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Changes make spending account reimbursements easier, faster

Effective April 2, the Benefits Office in UI Human Resources made two changes to how you can submit and receive payment on health and dependent care spending account claims.

You now can submit claims by e-mail. In addition to in-person drop-off, campus or U.S. mail, and FAX transmissions, the office now accepts electronic transmission of claims through attachments to an e-mail. If you wish to submit your claim electronically, the electronic copy of the reimbursement form and the scanned copies of the receipts must both be attached to your e-mail to You cannot send the reimbursement form and mail the receipts—they must come together attached to one e-mail.

The second change is about how the Benefits Office makes payments—if you receive your claim payments by direct deposit, you can expect to see those payments sooner and more often. (The change does not affect you if you receive your claim reimbursement by paper check.) The Benefits Office now processes claims for direct deposit on the following schedule: Monday processing will be paid on Wednesday; Tuesday processing will be paid on Thursday; Wednesday processing will be paid on Friday; Thursday processing will be paid on Monday; Friday processing will be paid on Tuesday.

However, because of claim volume, the office does not guarantee claims received on a certain day will be paid on that day's payment cycle. In addition, if the University or banking system is closed for holidays, the payment will be delayed to the next appropriate business day.

Benefits Office staff say the changes should enhance the University's spending account reimbursement programs by making them more user friendly.

If you receive paper checks and wish to change to direct deposit, go to the University Self Service site under the topic label "Direct Deposit" in the Payroll section:

Okay, so you're over 50. Are you done wining?

Could Iowa become the next Napa Valley of the Midwest? Some Iowa vintners think so, and older adults taking a wines of Iowa class and tours can judge for themselves.

If you're over 50, you can learn about Iowa's thriving grape-growing operations and winemaking while touring seven Iowa wineries in May and June during a five-week course sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the UI Center on Aging.

The institute's Wines of Iowa class is open to everyone 50 and older. The first session is from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Tues., May 22; subsequent sessions are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays, May 29, and June 5, 12, and 19. The cost for the five-week session is $350, which includes lunch, transportation, winery tours, and wine tasting. Individual sessions also are available for $80 each trip.

Registration deadline is Wed., May 9. Additional information and registration is available online at, or you may contact Linsey Abbott at (38)4-4221 or

For more about the class, read the University News Services release at


Award-winning Hairspray comes to Hancher this month

Hairspray, the John Waters musical comedy that won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2003, will come to The University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium for eight performances: 7:30 p.m., Tues.-Fri., April 17-20, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun., April 21 and 22.

Tickets for the Tuesday through Thursday performances are $48/40/30; UI student and youth $43.20/36/27; senior citizen $48/40/30. Tickets for the Friday through Sunday performances are $55/47/37.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (33)5-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating, and auxiliary services should dial (33)5-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use TDD technology.

Tickets may be ordered online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through Hancher's web site:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard, or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

Catalyst Award Seed Grant winners announced

The UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity has announced the recipients of the 2007 Catalyst Award Seed Grants. The Catalyst Award annually recognizes faculty, staff, students, and units for distinctive and innovative diversity contributions at the University.

Catalyst Award Seed Grants support creative projects that have an immediate impact on reaching the diversity goals of the University's strategic plan, The Iowa Promise.

Recipients of the newly created Catalyst Award Seed Grants are:

Helen Jameson, assistant director for programming, and Lee Seedorff, advisor in the Office of International Students and Scholars in International Programs, who receive a $950 grant for a training program to teach student leaders how to bridge the gap between underrepresented, domestic racial/ethnic groups, and international student groups at the University.

Laurie Croft, administrator for professional development with an adjunct appointment in teaching and learning, and Malik Henfield, assistant professor, both in the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development in the UI College of Education, who receive a $750 grant for a program to help students in the Teacher Education Program learn to identify and meet the needs of traditionally underrepresented students in gifted education programs.

Sue Almén-Whittaker, Nicole Smith, and Jenna Hammerich in the College of Liberal Arts and Science's English as a Second Language program (in the Department of Linguistics), who receive a $270 grant for a project to pair students in the Iowa Intensive English Program and the Teaching Assistants Preparation in English Program with UI faculty or staff members for the purpose of creating cross-cultural communication and dialogue.

Latisha Myers and Karen Ladjahasan, who receive a $205 grant for a project submitted on behalf of the Minority Student Nurse Association to invite underrepresented and minority UI prenursing students to participate in a mentoring program.

For more information on the 2007 Catalyst Award Seed Grant, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at (33)5-0705.

UI wellness program reports results

The University's liveWELL program, administered by UI Human Resources, has issued a report of outcomes from 2006. The complete report is available in pdf form online at

Highlights of the report show that 4,812 people, about half of those eligible for the program in 2006, took the program's online Health Risk Assessement. They reported that their top behaviorial risks were unhealthy eating (57 percent) and lack of exercise (44 percent). They reported that their top chronic conditions were migraines (16 percent), arthritis (13 percent), and back problems (13 percent).

Additionally, 231 participants successfully completed the program's Health Coach Service. All of the health coach participants rated service as good to excellent, and 96 percent reported improved health as a result of participation.

For 2007, liveWELL directors have set a goal of 55 percent participation by the UI community in the program's online Health Risk Assesement. They also plan to develop programing that addresses the top behavioral risk factors noted in the assessment data.  

Merit staff will be eligible to participate in liveWELL beginning July 2007.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Joni Troester at (33)5-2692 or

Nominations due for staff awards

The Staff Council is accepting nominations for three staff recognition awards: the UI Outstanding Staff Award, the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award, and the David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service.

Nominations are due April 30.

Any member of the University (faculty, staff or student) may make nominations. Nomination instructions and forms are available on the Staff Council's website,

Nominations due for President's Instructional Technology Innovation Award

The President's Instructional Technology Innovation Award recognizes creative use of technology in teaching at The University of Iowa. The award is presented in the fall semester and includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Nominations are due April 23, 2007.

Any UI faculty, staff or student may nominate someone, and self-nominations are encouraged. Nomination instructions and criteria are available on the web at

UI Staff Council members and officers elected

University of Iowa staff members elected 21 new members to Staff Council, which also named officers in March. Staff Council represents approximately 5,400 professional, scientific and special services staff members who are not covered by a bargaining unit.

New officers for 2007-08 are Kathy Klein, secretary IV in the Graduate College, president; Duncan Stewart, cataloging librarian in University Libraries, vice president/president elect; Nancy Davin, administrative assistant II (human resources) in Student Health Services, secretary; Sarah Tallman, administrative specialist II in Research Services Administration, budget officer; Mary Greer, Web editor in Health Care Information Systems, past president.

The new councilors elected in their respective classifications begin their three-year terms this month.

For a list of the 21 elected council members, see the University News Services release at



New initiative investigates rights implications of global warming

The University of Iowa's Center for Human Rights, in cooperation with the University's Center for Global and Environmental Research, will join the Vermont Law School in a new initiative to examine human rights and other legal rights implicated by global warming and climate change.

Burns H. Weston, interim director of the UICHR, is director and senior researcher of the Climate Legacy Initiative. Jerry Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, and Jonathan Carlson, professor in the College of law, will work with Weston.

For more information, see the University News Services release at


They swam across the what!? Is that a croc?

What can fossils of ancient animals tell us about the history of modern animals?

Quite a bit, according to Chris Brochu, associate professor of geoscience in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Brochu is the coauthor of an article published in the March 7 issue of the Royal Society Journal that tells how a fossil of a crocodile that lived millions of years ago in Puerto Rico helped reveal that related crocodiles likely came to live in present-day South America by swimming across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa.

The story began with a conversation Brochu had with a colleague about fossilized crocodile remains found in a fresh water river delta off the coast of northern Puerto Rico. At first he was merely hopeful, because crocodile fossils are common, but are often very incomplete. But his reaction changed after he got a look at the fossil.

"My jaw dropped," he says. "This was the back of a skull, which is the best part if you want to know what kind of crocodile you have. It belonged to a gharial, a group found today only in fresh water in India and neighboring countries. These were sea-going, coastal animals that didn't have the aversion to salt water that crocodiles do today."

Brochu explains that the Indian gharial is not found in salt water, but the geographic distribution of fossil relatives suggests it descended from ancestors that lived in, or were at least able to withstand, saline conditions. The fossil describes a new type of gharial (since named Aktiogavialis puertoricensis) that lived during the Oligocene epoch, a geologic period ranging from 34 to 23 million years ago. The fossil is from an animal related to a group of gharials otherwise restricted to South America.

When he looked at the geological time frame and the location of the find, together with known information about the relatedness of crocodile species, he was left with two facts: that a single trans-Atlantic crossing likely accounts for the South American crocodiles and that gharials, being coastal animals, developed their current affinity for freshwater comparatively recently.

"Prior to the find, the question had been, 'How did South American fresh water gharials get there?' Now we have a fossil from Puerto Rico that helps answer the question," he says. "This discovery tells us that South American crocodiles got there by crossing the Atlantic, probably from Africa.

"And it reinforces the notion that the ecology of modern animals can't always be understood by looking at modern relatives," he says. "It is important to include fossil information in a phylogenetic, or evolutionary development, context when assessing the ecological history of modern organisms."

by Gary Galluzzo, University of Iowa News Services





  • Ethel Vachta, 85, retired food worker, Feb. 24 in Wellman, Iowa. (obit)
  • Dorothy Blount, 79, retired central service technician III, Feb. 25 in Tucson, Ariz. (obit)
  • Wanda Demory, 86, retired nursing assistant, Feb. 26 in Coralville. (obit)
  • Craig O'Connor, 67, retired storekeeper, Feb. 28 in Coralville. (obit)
  • Amelia Calvert, 86, retired custodian, March 1 in Lone Tree, Iowa. (obit)
  • Judith White, 68, retired supervisor, March 5 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Hazel Fountain, 98, retired custodian, March 8 in Cedar Rapids. (obit)
  • Myrna Samms, 70, retired nurse, March 9 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Bernice Kroeger, 92, retired nurse, March 13 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Brenda Wildermuth, 40, former senior physical therapist, March 16 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Linda Schultz, 58, nurse, March 18 in Coralville. (obit)
  • Fred Parks, 87, retired repair, March 19 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Ruth Davison, 79, retired nurse, March 22 in Kalona, Iowa. (obit)
  • James A. Dixon, 78, professor emeritus of music, April 3 in Iowa City. (obit)


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