HR News

Sheila Johnson-Willis Appointed Chief Equal Opportunity and Title IX Officer

Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Andrew Gordon has announced that Sheila R. Johnson-Willis has been named associate vice president and chief equal opportunity and Title IX officer. She has served in that position on an interim basis since June 2015.

“Following a national search announced last November, which attracted applicants from across the country, it became very clear to the search committee that Sheila has all the essential qualifications, skills, experience, sensitivity and commitment to carry out the duties of this critical role,” says Gordon. “She has earned the respect and trust of students, faculty and staff, and has done a stellar job of leading the office through some challenging times over the last few years.”

Gordon thanked the search committee, a diverse group of students, faculty and staff co-chaired by Dawn Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Higher Education in the School of Education, and Jake Tanksley, senior human resource business partner in the Office of Human Resources.

“The committee understood the crucial nature of this position in fostering a culture of inclusion and acceptance and a safe and supportive learning, living and working environment,” says Gordon. “Sheila has already demonstrated her agility, sensitivity, compassion and professionalism in handling a myriad of equal opportunity, Title IX, disability and related issues. This position encompasses increasingly complex and demanding concerns. I look forward to working with her in partnership as we strengthen our services related to these complicated and vital issues.”

Reporting to Gordon, the associate vice president leads the Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Resolution Office (EOIRS) and is responsible for aligning all its functions, including training and investigation of equal opportunity claims, affirmative action planning and disability rights guidance and investigations. During her tenure as interim leader, Johnson-Willis has expanded services and staff, adding an experienced investigator and obtaining the resources necessary to hire two additional investigators. She also enhanced disability services and outreach to students to make them more aware of their rights and the support available.

“I am grateful for the support of the University in providing the resources critical to ensuring that we are a welcoming and inclusive campus committed to equal opportunity,” says Johnson-Willis. “As we move forward, my priorities include increased education and communication campuswide on issues related to accessibility, equality, sensitivity and safety for all members of the Orange family.”

Prior to being appointed interim associate vice president and chief equal opportunity and Title IX officer in June 2015, Johnson-Willis was director of equal opportunity and inclusion at Syracuse University from October 2012 to June 2015. She came to Syracuse from Colgate University, where she was director of equal opportunity and affirmative action and Title IX officer. Before that, she was director for affirmative action compliance and Title IX coordinator at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. She earned a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

Good Health Habits Can Stop the Spread of Germs

Photo: washing hands under running waterAt this time of year, it is more important than ever to continue good practices to help prevent the spread of contagious illnesses, such as the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a list of good habits to protect yourself from the flu and other illnesses, including the following:

  • Get a flu shot! Proper vaccination is the best protection against the flu. Faculty and staff can receive the flu vaccine at the SU Health Services pharmacy until Feb. 28 or for maximum flexibility, Syracuse University Medical Plan participants have additional options to receive the flu vaccine.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated. Because of this, please avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

“The most common symptoms associated with flu are congestion, fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat, and body aches and chills. If you begin experiencing these symptoms, rest, fluids and fever-reducing medication will help manage the symptoms. While most flu illnesses resolve on their own, if you’re experiencing severe illness or have concerns, seek care promptly,” says Dr. Karen Nardella, medical director in SU Health Services. Faculty and staff who experience flu-like symptoms should consult their primary care physician.

Have a healthy spring semester.

Faculty and Staff Invited to Take Stress Buster Challenge

Life is full of situations that invite stress. While we cannot always control what is happening around us, we can control how we respond. Our responses to stress, both positive and negative, can affect our physical well-being and overall health. The good news is that by trying a variety of techniques and strategies to help manage your stress, you can see what works best for you.

Faculty and staff are invited to take the Stress Buster Challenge, Feb. 12-March 1, a three-week, email-based challenge designed to empower you to take action to manage stress effectively.

All who complete the challenge will be entered into a prize drawing.

Learn more and register by Feb. 8.

Questions? Email or call 315.443.5472.

Add your name to the email list to stay up to date on the latest wellness events.

Campus Buildings to Glow Red for Women’s Health Awareness

The Hall of Languages and Hendricks Chapel will be aglow in red lights on the evenings of Thursday, Feb. 1, and Friday, Feb. 2, as part of the campus’s efforts to raise awareness for women’s health. Friday marks the 14th anniversary of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, and is also National Wear Red Day.

National Wear Red Day—the first Friday in February—brings attention to cardiovascular disease in women by encouraging everyone to wear red and take positive action to live longer, healthier lives. The red dress has since become the iconic symbol of the battle against heart disease in women. Some form of cardiovascular disease affects more than one in every three adult Americans.

To learn more about wellness offerings and opportunities please visit

Chancellor Syverud Discusses Five Immediate Priorities in 2018 Winter Message to the Community

Chancellor Kent Syverud identified five immediate priorities for Syracuse University in his Winter Message, which he delivered on Tuesday, Jan. 16, to a standing-room-only audience in the Jack and Laura Hanhausen Milton Atrium in the Life Sciences Complex.

The Chancellor said that entering the spring 2018 semester, the University is “in remarkably good shape to respond to the challenges coming at us and to seize opportunities to have a better impact in the world.”

He spoke of five priorities for the new semester: Invest Syracuse; the need to remain open and welcoming to the world; major building projects; community engagement; and a reexamination of policies governing sexual harassment and abuse of power in relationships between faculty or staff and students.

View complete story and video

Important Information About Excellus BCBS

Happy New Year! As of Jan. 1, 2018, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (Excellus BCBS) is the medical plan administrator for Syracuse University. Please show your Excellus BCBS member ID card for all medical services and continue to use your OptumRx card to obtain prescription drugs. Below are some helpful tips and reminders about our medical coverage.

Member ID Cards
Welcome packets, including member ID cards, were mailed to your home address in mid-December. Each dependent who is over the age of 18 and is enrolled under your plan should have received a welcome packet with two member ID cards as well. If you cover any dependents under the age of 18, please provide your ID card to their provider when they seek services. If you have not received your ID cards, please contact our Excellus dedicated customer care team to request a new card.

Excellus BCBS on Campus
An experienced Excellus representative will be on campus for personalized meetings to review any of your detailed questions surrounding our medical coverage. Stop by if you have questions; no appointment is necessary. Visit our website for the most current schedule.

Access Your Medical Information
If you have questions on your account, you may access your information in a variety of ways:

•  Calling the dedicated Excellus BCBS customer care team at 800.493.0318 (TTY/TTD: 800.662.1220)

•  Registering for secure online access at

•  Downloading the mobile app through iTunes or Google Play by searching for Excellus BCBS

Set Your 2018 Fitness Goals
Thinking about setting your fitness goals by joining a gym in 2018? With the Fitness Your Way plan through Excellus BCBS, you’ll have access to 10,000 gyms nationwide. And, as a way to jumpstart your workout, the enrollment fee will be waived Jan. 1-31, 2018 by using the code SYRACUSE2018. Learn more about Fitness Your Way and other gym memberships by visiting and click on Blue365 Discounts under the Health and Wellness section.

24/7 Nurse Call Line
With Excellus BCBS, you can contact a registered nurse by phone anytime—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Excellus BCBS specially trained registered nurses can provide support and education for members with chronic or complex health conditions, or provide answers to more general health questions.

Prior Authorizations
As a reminder, please have your health care providers contact Excellus BCBS to obtain required prior authorizations. You may contact our dedicated customer care team at Excellus BCBS with any questions on the prior authorization process, or to obtain a list of services that require prior authorization.

We are here to help: If you have any questions about your medical benefits, please contact our Human Resources Service Center at 315.443.4042.

University to Operate on Reduced Schedule During Green Days

The University will be operating under its Green Days and reduced occupancy schedule format for the Winter Break period froPhoto: Winter view of Crouse-Hinds Hallm 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.

Request for Building Access:During the Holiday/Green Days period:
• All academic and administrative buildings will be locked or closed.
• Building temperatures will be lowered to 60 degrees, unless prior arrangements have been made.

If you require your building to be open over the Winter Break/Green Days period, please submit a request to your building coordinator, noting the specific dates and times. Requests should be made by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19. (Note that faculty and staff will be able to access all buildings, as usual, by swiping their SU I.D. cards, even when the buildings are locked.)

Request for Adjustments to Temperature and Lighting:
Deans, directors and department heads may submit a detailed request for adjustments to temperature and lighting during the Winter Break/Green Days period. Please review the University’s temperature guidelines. We ask that requests be made using the online form by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19. Requests will be reviewed and approved by either the vice president and chief facilities officer or the provost.

Important: Buildings Not Included in Winter Break Reduced Occupancy Schedule
Due to academic and research needs, the following buildings will be excluded from the temperature setback, and will remain on normal access, temperature and lighting settings:
• Heroy Geology Laboratory
• Bowne Hall—Fourth Floor
• Lyman Hall—Fourth Floor
• Sims Hall—Department of Public Safety
• Center for Science and Technology
• Bird Library—Operating hours are listed on the library website.
• Life Sciences Complex
• Link Hall
• Physics Building
• Women’s Building

Additional information regarding Winter Break/Green Days services and resources may be found at:
• University services available during Winter Break/Green Days:
• HR Winter Break/Green Days info:
• Winter Break/Green Days FAQ:

Questions on building occupancy can be directed to the Department of Energy Systems and Sustainability Management, 315.443.6195 or

Thank you for your continued support of the University’s sustainability initiatives.

Employee Discount Tickets Available for Dec. 27 and 31 Men’s Basketball Games

In support of all the great work of the University’s faculty and staff, Human Resources is partnering with Syracuse University Athletics to offer employee appreciation discount tickets to two upcoming men’s basketball games.

The discount tickets will be available for the following games:

7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 27: SU vs. Eastern Michigan, $5 ticket

6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31: SU vs. Virginia Tech (first conference game), $10 ticket


Faculty and staff are invited to purchase up to eight tickets for each game at the identified price with their SU I.D. Employees may purchase tickets online using the promotional code/password SUEMPLOYEES; online through a MyCuse Account; in-person at the Dome Box Office or over the phone by calling 315.443.2121 (press 2).


A University parking permit will be honored for free game day parking at the University Avenue Garage, Booth Garage and Manley Field House North parking lot.

Some parking permits (for employees who do not already have a permit) to park at Manley North will be available for both games. They may be picked up at Skytop, with an SU I.D. and proof of ticket for the game, on Dec. 18, 19 and 20.


The first 100 employees to sign up will receive a free hat. Instructions on how to pick up the hat will be emailed prior to game day.

Share Your Orange Spirit

Employees can share game day photos on social media for a chance to appear on the Dome videoboard using #CuseGameDay.


Call the HR Service Center at 315.443.4042 or email For questions about basketball tickets, call the Dome Box Office at 315.443.2121.

Important Benefits Information and Deadlines

Don’t forget about important information and benefits application deadlines for faculty and staff:

Child Care Subsidy

The child care subsidy—$1,000 per child younger than age 6, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year—is available to eligible faculty and staff with gross household incomes of $100,000 or less. Applications [PDF] are due to Human Resources by Friday, Dec. 8.

Reduced Medical Contributions

Depending on an employee’s household size and income, reduced medical contributions are available through Schedule B. Learn more online and apply by Friday, Dec. 8.

Supplemental Life Insurance and Long-Term Disability

If you chose to enroll or increase your supplemental life insurance, please remember to complete your statement of health. If you chose to enroll in long-term disability insurance, please remember to complete your medical history statement.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

As a reminder, Excellus BCBS will be the University’s medical plan administrator effective Jan. 1, 2018. If you elected to enroll in the University’s medical plan effective Jan. 1, you will receive a welcome packet at the permanent address you have on file with the University as recorded in MySlice. This welcome packet will include two member ID cards with your name on both.

In addition, each dependent who is over the age of 18 and is enrolled under your plan will also receive a welcome packet with two member ID cards at their home address as recorded in MySlice. If you cover any dependents under the age of 18, please provide your ID card to their provider when they seek services. If you have not received your cards by Dec. 15, please contact Excellus BCBS at 800.493.0318 (TTY/TTD: 800.662.1220) to request a new card. Please refer to the comprehensive set of FAQs for additional information regarding the transition to Excellus BCBS and 2018 benefits.


Please visit the benefits website or contact the HR Service Center at 315.443.4042 or

New Paid Family Leave Benefit for Staff Effective Jan. 1

With a new law taking effect in 2018, Syracuse University is working to stay ahead of changes and ensure employees know and understand their benefits. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, new benefits are available with the passage of the New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) law, providing paid leave for eligible staff members to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or prepare for a family member’s call to active military service. Relevant information has been posted on the Human Resources website.

Summary of the New Paid Family Leave Benefit:

Staff and student employees, including graduate assistants, working in New York State are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • If a regular work schedule is 20 or more hours per week, an employee is eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • If a regular work schedule is less than 20 hours per week, an employee is eligible after working 175 days.
  • New York’s legislation establishing Paid Family Leave does not apply to those working in a teaching capacity. Faculty continue to be eligible for leaves of absence and paid parental leave benefits, and may request administrative leave through their departments, as appropriate.“Syracuse University provides several kinds of leave to assist faculty, non-academic staff and other eligible employees in balancing the demands of the workplace with their personal needs,” says Andrew R. Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “Our human resources team is prepared and ready to assist employees who may have questions to help them maximize their available benefits.”Under the new law employees are provided several benefits, including:
    • wage replacement for eight weeks of leave at 50 percent of pay (up to 50 percent of the state’s average weekly wage), increasing to 12 weeks and 67 percent pay in 2021;
    • job protection upon return from Paid Family Leave; and
    • continuation of health insurance while out on Paid Family Leave.

New York State specified that the Paid Family Leave Program is employee-funded, and that employers shall collect an employee contribution through a payroll deduction determined annually by the New York State Department of Financial Services. In 2018, the rate will be 0.126 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped at $1.65 per week.

Resources and Training

  • Several upcoming information sessions are available. The state continues to clarify the regulations. Human Resources will continue to update the website as further information becomes available. Additional information can be found on the New York State Paid Family Leave website.

Timeline Moving Forward

  • New York’s timeline calls for a phased rollout over four years, with the benefit level starting at eight weeks, 50 percent pay in 2018 and reaching 12 weeks, 67 percent pay in 2021. Employees do not need to take any action to enroll in this coverage and the benefits will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Questions about Paid Family Leave