HR Newsletter - December 2023

Welcome to the December edition of the HR Newsletter. December, a month synonymous with warmth, reflection, and celebration is the perfect time to take a moment to express our gratitude for the unwavering dedication and hard work each of you contributes to our university community. Your commitment to excellence and fostering an enriching educational environment does not go unnoticed.

December is not just a time to reflect—it's a time to celebrate the festive spirit that unites us. And, as we approach the end of the year, let’s take a moment to appreciate the strength of our university community. We work together toward a common goal of academic excellence and positive impact. Your collective efforts make a lasting difference in the lives of our students and contribute to the growth and reputation of our beloved university.

In the spirit of the season, we wish you a joyful December filled with the company of loved ones. May this holiday season bring you the peace and happiness you deserve. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to CWU. Together we continue to work toward creating a model learning community of equity and belonging.

Direct questions about anything in this newsletter to

  • Welcome to the Wildcat Family!


    • Noah Annett – College of Business
    • Johnny Bartlett – Dining Services
    • Stephanie Brough – Student Rights & Responsibilities
    • Landis Hanson – Financial Aid
    • Krista Houghton – Enterprise Accounting
    • Brad Masset – Dining Services
    • Sharrie McPherson – Administrative Services
    • Suzanne Merritt – University Advancement
    • John Orndorff – Auxiliary Computing Services
    • Tyler Shannon – Case Management
    • Marianne Thompson – Aviation
    • Taryn Thompson – Dining Services
    • August Tibbits – School of Education
    • Scott Vise –University Police & Public Safety
    • Ashley West – Admissions
  • First Friday Leadership Talk

    January 5, 2024 | 11 AM | Shaw 115
    Leading with Care: Empowering Survivors of Interpersonal Violence

    CWU survivor advocate, Katie Parks, will discuss ways that leaders can intervene to support those who have experienced interpersonal violence, including how to respond to disclosures and how to bring a trauma-informed lens to leadership work.

    Katie Parks, Assistant Director for Violence Prevention and Response – CWU Wellness Center

    Katie is a confidential Prevention, Advocacy, Training and Healing (P.A.T.H.) advocate in the CWU Wellness Center. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan, and takes pride in providing compassionate, trauma-informed support services to survivors of interpersonal violence. Her goal is to create a healthy and safe campus environment.

    For Leaders at all levels: staff, faculty, and students
    Register: MyCWU > Learning > ‘Search for Learning’ enter “First Friday”

    Direct questions to

  • Meet with a Retirement Plan Representative

    Our Fidelity representative will be on the Ellensburg campus January 23 & 24 and February 20 & 21.

    Sign up online for an appointment: Meet with Us > Schedule a meeting > Enter employer name: Central Washington University.

    An in-person consultation with a Fidelity Workplace Planning and Guidance Consultant provides you:

    • Guidance to help you maximize retirement savings and achieve other goals
    • Face-to-face planning from a seasoned investment professional - at no cost
    • A convenient time and location to meet - right at work

    Fidelity is the plan administrator for the CWU Retirement Plan (CWURP) and the Voluntary Investment Plan (VIP). The CWURP is the mandatory faculty and exempt retirement plan and the VIP is an optional retirement savings plan available to all non-student employees.



  • First Choice Health


    Access Employee Assistance Program resources with username ‘CWU’ to login. Available to CWU faculty, staff, and their family members. Or call 800-777-4114 for immediate assistance.

  • Emotional Wellness: Navigate Holiday Emotions


  • 2024 Minimum Wage Increase

    The Washington State minimum wage is increasing to $16.28 per hour on January 1, 2024. Employees making less than $16.28 will have their rate automatically increased January 1st to reflect the new minimum. No action is necessary by supervisors. A minimum wage poster is available on the Labor & Industries website. Direct questions to Human Resources at or (509) 963-1202.

  • 3 Ways to Maintain Balance During the Holidays


    What is meant to be a time of celebration with family and friends can often leave many feeling stressed, overloaded, overweight, and overspent. Following are three ways to help you enjoy this time of year.

    Rather than feeling guilty for eating too much, overspending, or being too busy, shift your mindset to gratefulness. Enjoy the meals you’ve been looking forward to. Be grateful you have the funds to buy your family gifts or, if you don’t this year, try spending less money, create a budget for next year, and create something homemade. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at your calendar and choose the events which bring you joy. Be grateful for the option to shop online. Instead of feeling guilty, make a conscious effort to choose gratefulness.

    Things can feel overwhelming as they start to pile up in your mind such as choosing and purchasing gifts, making extra food, weight gain, attending parties, participating in gift exchanges, and deciding what to wear. Don’t turn an indulgent party into a six-week feast or a shopping trip for gifts into an endless shopping spree. Try to remember the bigger picture. The holiday season covers the span of a few weeks, but each event only lasts a few hours at most. Enjoy each event you choose to engage with and take it one activity, one task, and one day at a time.

    The holidays are about giving to others, but it is especially important to take care of yourself during the busy holiday season. Make sure to keep exercise a priority, get plenty of rest, and drink sufficient water.

    We hope you enjoy this holiday season and implement simple ways to maintain balance in your life.

  • Employee of the Month Nominations

    Nominate Someone Today for Employee of the Month

    Our colleagues are doing important work every day for the betterment of our students and institution. We want to celebrate individuals for their positive interactions, projects, and work that live into our core values of Student Success, Engagement, Belonging, and Stewardship.

    Nominees must: 

    • Be a current classified or exempt employee
    • Have been employed at CWU for at least one year
    • Be in good employment standing

  • SmartHealth


    SmartHealth is a voluntary wellness program that supports your journey toward living well.

    In 2024, WebMD, one of the most trusted brands in well-being, will administer SmartHealth with new resources and a more personalized experience. Watch for more information in January. 

    The current SmartHealth platform will be available through 2023. As of January 2, 2024, you may register with the WebMD SmartHealth platform. You can prepare by creating a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account if you haven’t already. To learn how, see Accessing SmartHealth.

     Wellness Incentive

    If you qualified for the wellness incentive during in 2023, it will be applied by the end of January 2024. Depending on your medical plan, you will either receive a $125 reduction in your deductible or a $125 deposit into your health savings account (HSA). See the SmartHealth webpage for more details.

  • Did You Know?

    Student Employees may work up to 40 hours a week over Winter Break. 

    During regular class sessions, students are limited to 20 hours a week – because student success is what matters most.

    However, if there is work to be done and the appointing authority approves, students can earn extra money during their break between quarters. Student employees interested in working extra hours should talk with their supervisor.

  • askHR

    Q:  Where can I find information about campus closure due to inclement weather?

    A:  Updates will be posted on the Emergency Notifications page. Each center will follow their host site’s protocol.

  • CLA Online – December Learning Focus is “Work AND Life Balance”


    As we approach a time of year that can be stressful, it’s important we prioritize our own wellness and the well-being of others. Work-life balance looks different for everyone, but generally is having a healthy split between time spent on work-related activities and personal activities. CLA Online contains useful resources to assist. To learn more, select one of the following recommended features:

    WATCH:       Optimizing Your Workplace Well-being

    READ:           Find Your Balance Point: Clarify Your Priorities, Simplify Your Life, and Achieve More

    LISTEN:         Creating a Purposeful Life: How To Reclaim Your Life, Live More Meaningfully and Befriend Time

    Questions? Contact Central Learning Academy at
  • Washington Apple Health for Adults and Children
    If you are a Washington resident and your household income is below the Medicaid standard, you may be eligible for free or reduced premium health insurance through the Washington Apple Health program or Washington Apple Health for Kids. Check eligibility at or call 855-923-4633. You may choose to retain insurance through your employer and may qualify for premium assistance.

    For more information or to apply, visit the Health Care Authority’s Premium Payment website or call 800-562-3022, extension 15473. Information is also available on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (PDF) website.

  • Saltine Cracker Toffee Recipe



    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2 sleeves saltine crackers
    • 1 bag white chocolate chips
    • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
    • Crushed candy canes
    • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
    • Line baking sheet with foil and then place crackers in a single layer, salted side up.
    • Over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Turn up heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
    • Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract.
    • Pour boiled butter-sugar mixture evenly over crackers.
    • Bake for 5 minutes.
    • Remove from oven and sprinkle with white chocolate chips.
    • Place in oven for a few seconds to melt chips.
    • Remove from oven and spread melted white chocolate chips evenly over crackers.
    • Sprinkle immediately with crushed candy canes.
    • Once cooled, break into bite-size pieces.

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