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Brief Notes

This year's Benefit Choice Options booklet is available online only

Benefit Choice enrollment continues through May 31

The annual Benefit Choice enrollment period for UI employees continues through May 31. The Benefit Choice Options booklet, which contains changes for the 2010-11 plan year, will not be mailed to employees this year, but is available online. More info

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IN THIS ISSUE: Graduate College seeks IMentors | Donate to annual garage sale | Vintage Vinyl sale is May 8 | Annual piano sale is May 6-10 | Qualitative inquiry explored May 26-29 | Free eye exams for service animals | Research study participants needed | Nuclear weapons film screening is May 8

Benefits Brief

Benefit Choice enrollment continues through May 31

The annual Benefit Choice enrollment period for UI employees continues through May 31. The Benefit Choice Options booklet, which contains changes for the 2010-11 plan year, will not be mailed to employees this year, but is available online. Full-time employee health and dental contributions remain the same as the current plan year.

The Benefit Choice section of NESSIE should be used to make changes to state health and life insurance plan enrollments, opt in or opt out of the state group health insurance plan (if you have proof of other non-state group coverage), opt in or opt out of the dental plan, and enroll or re-enroll in flexible spending accounts (FSAs).  Employees also may add or drop dependents (documentation is required) and same-sex domestic partners. Changes will become effective July 1. NESSIE can be used until midnight May 31. The Benefits Services office will be closed May 31 for the Memorial Day holiday. 

Benefits staff members will be available at the following computer lab locations to provide Benefit Choice information, assist employees with NESSIE navigation and answer questions relating to Benefit Choice or other benefit issues.

  •        9-11 a.m. May 13, 19 and 26, OBFS Training Lab 16, 111 E. Green Street, Champaign
  •        1-3 p.m. May 11, 18 and 27, Staff Human Resources, 52 E. Gregory, Champaign

Pre-registration is not required.  Employees are encouraged to bring documentation with them if adding a dependent or opting out of health insurance during the Benefit Choice period.  Parking at both locations is metered. 

These sessions are approved events under Civil Service Policy and Rules, Rule 11.12. Employees may be released from work to attend this event, university operations permitting, and subject to prior approval from their supervisor. 

Customer service hours at the Benefits Services office (Room 177 Henry Administration Building) are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Personal appointments with a benefits counselor can be scheduled by calling 217-333-3111.  E-mail inquiries should be sent to

Health Plan Administrators

Vision Plan

Quality Care Dental Plan

For other plan administrators view the Benefits Choice Options booklet online.


Faculty members, alumni

Graduate College seeks IMentors

The Graduate College seeks faculty members and graduate alumni for IMentor, a new mentoring network to support the success of underrepresented graduate students at Illinois.

Studies on graduate education repeatedly point to mentoring as a key factor in degree completion. Yet, African-American, Hispanic and American Indian graduate students often report that isolation and a lack of significant connections to faculty members and peers affect their decision to accept admission offers or remain in graduate programs.

IMentors, who are not academic or research advisers, help guide students through aspects of the graduate experience and into chosen careers.

Registration for mentors is now open. Students will sign up and be matched with an IMentor beginning in the fall. To learn more or to become an IMentor, visit the Graduate College website at or contact the college at or 217-333-4860.

University YMCA

Donate to annual garage sale

Collections for the University YMCA’s annual Dump and Run garage sale will begin May 10. The sale is being coordinated with International Student and Scholar Services.

Items will only be accepted at the UI Stock Pavilion (not at the University YMCA). There also will be collections in August. Sale dates are Aug. 21 and 22.

Dates and times to drop off items this month:

  • May 10-15 and May 17-28: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • May 13, 20 and 27: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To schedule a pick-up for large items the week of May 10, call Samantha at 217-337-1500. For information on what items may be donated, visit:

Dump and Run collects reusable items – often things that students would dispose of as they leave campus – and sells those items when students arrive or return to campus in August.

The project reduces litter and consumer waste, lowers dumping costs for certified housing units, provides inexpensive items for students to purchase in the fall and is a significant fundraiser for the University YMCA.

To volunteer, e-mail Anyone who volunteers for at least six hours may shop before the sale.

LPs, CDs, video games and more

Vintage Vinyl sale is May 8

The Vintage Vinyl sale – with thousands of used records, tapes, CDs, video games and video players offered for sale – takes place May 8 at Lincoln Square Village in Urbana.

An entrance fee of $5 will be charged 8-11 a.m. Admission is free 11 a.m.-3 p.m. After the sale closes for an hour of reorganizing, all items will be half price 4-6 p.m. Used equipment – including CD players, DVD players, turntables and speakers – also will be offered at bargain prices.

The sale benefits Illinois Radio Reader, a service of Illinois Public Media that provides news and information to blind and visually impaired audiences in East Central Illinois.

Deane Geiken, director of the IRR, said adding video games and players to the mix this year means there’s something for all ages at the sale. “As always, we have a great selection of classical and opera recordings. We’ll have to see if the rock, jazz and blues donations will match them,” he said.

School of Music

Annual piano sale is May 6-10

Through the University Piano Loan Program, Samuel Music and Yamaha Corporation of America provide faculty members and students in the School of Music with new pianos. As the end of the academic year approaches, acoustic and digital pianos, along with a large selection of new and used pianos and Clavinova digital pianos, will be for sale.

All instruments will be sold at reduced prices with the Yamaha manufacturer’s warranty included, on a first come, first served basis.

To ensure the best selection, schedule an appointment at the School of Music between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. May 6, 7 and 10 or between 1 and 6 p.m. May 9. Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment, call 888-742-6632 or e-mail

Support of this event enables Samuel Music and Yamaha to continue to loan new instruments each year to the UI School of Music.

Sixth annual international conference

Qualitative inquiry explored May 26-29

Qualitative research will be the focus of the sixth annual International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry from May 26 to 29. The theme of this year’s congress is “Qualitative Inquiry for a Global Community in Crisis.”

In recent years, the conference has drawn more than a thousand participants from more than 60 countries, making it the largest annual conference of qualitative researchers in the world, according to congress director Norman Denzin, a professor in the Institute of Communications Research in the College of Media.

The first congress was organized by Denzin and others in 2005 in reaction to moves by governments and funding agencies to define good science and research strongly in favor of a quantitative, “evidence-based,” biomedical model, which emphasizes controlled experiments and number-gathering, Denzin said.

This meant restrictions on funding for qualitative research, which emphasizes observation and often seeks to record the voices of marginalized populations, he said. The trend has affected fields such as business, communications, education, health care, law and social science, he said.

At the first conference, participants founded the International Association of Qualitative Inquiry. The UI also is home to the multidisciplinary International Center for Qualitative Inquiry. More information is available at

UI Veterinary Clinic

Free eye exams for service animals

Many companion animals perform vital roles in society as service animals, assisting people with disabilities, aiding search and rescue, or contributing to therapy.

To show appreciation for service animals, veterinary ophthalmologists at the UI Veterinary Teaching Hospital will participate in the third annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, a specialty organization that certifies veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology, coordinates this event to provide free eye exams for service animals, including dogs and horses. More than 170 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S. and Canada will donate their services for this event. 

To qualify for a free exam, service animal owners must first register at After registration and approval is complete, call Shari Poruba, 217-333-5374, or Lorri Zoch, 217-265-0008, for an appointment.

For more information about the hospital, visit

Strength training

Research study participants needed

Female UI employees between the ages of 18 and 34 years are needed for a 60- to 90-minute focus group about strength training.  Women should be physically active and not currently doing any strength training. Participants will receive $25 compensation. If interested in participating, contact Ravina Daphtary, or 217-244-6138.


Nuclear weapons film screening May 8

“Countdown to Zero,” a documentary billed as “a wake-up call about the global nuclear threat,” will get an early screening May 8 on the UI campus.

The 90-minute film, not yet in theaters, will be shown at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of the Armory Building, with a discussion to follow. The screening is free and open to the public, however seating may be limited.

The event is co-hosted by the UI’s Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security, along with representatives of Global Zero, an organization devoted to eliminating nuclear weapons.

The film was produced by Lawrence Bender, who also produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” the influential documentary on the issue of climate change.

For more information and links to reviews, check the ADCIS website.


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