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HR Update - May 5th

To keep communication as clear as possible, and archive it for later use, the Office of Human Resources will be sending out updates using this format.

If you have information that you would like to disseminate to all employees, please send that to and we will coordinate adding the information to a future HR update.

For now, we would ask that you limit any mass communications to avoid confusion.

Changes to HR update submissions

Due to staffing transitions in the Office of Human Resources, please be sure to send future submissions to  As this publication becomes a shared duty, submission to this email address will ensure your content is included in the next HR Update.

Summer FAQ's

As the summer grows closer, employees often have questions regarding summer dress code, work hours and holidays. Answers to these frequent questions are below.  Of course, employees should discuss how this relates to individual offices with their manager/supervisor, and the HR team is ready to answer individual questions as well.

Please refer to our Summer FAQ document. 

Open positions - share the news!

Announcing Winners of the 22nd Vazquez-Valarezo Poetry Award

Theme: “Discontentment”


The Women’s and Gender Studies Program is pleased to announce the winners of the 22th Annual Vázquez-Valarezo Poetry Award


1st Place:  Lalini Shanela Ranaraja –Poem: "For [REDACTED]”

2nd Place: Blake Traylor –Poem:  "Deathtrap"

3rd Place: Lalini Shanela Ranaraja –Poem: "Freefall In Reverse”


Our profound gratitude to our distinguished judges Taddy Kalas & Lucas Street, Professor of French & Director of the Reading and Writing Center, respectively. 

One Flea Spare

One Flea Spare will be presented May 6-9 in the Brunner Theatre Main Stage.  Tickets and information can be found at

Darkly comic and deeply moving by turns, One Flea Spare is set in plague-ravaged 17th Century London where social roles and the boundaries that describe them have turned upside down. The definition of morality is up for grabs. Upper and lower class are forced to live in quarantine together and the secrets and sins of the four shut-ins are laid bare. The social hierarchy collapses, and inhibitions are loosened as the prisoners wait for death to strike them down or pass them by. Who, if anyone, will survive.

Social distancing and masks required of all patrons. 

Swenson Center Faculty Research Stipend

The Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center (in Denkmann Hall) invites applications for our annual Faculty Research Stipend. This $600 stipend supports one Augustana College faculty member's 1-week exploration of Swenson Center library and archival materials, to support the creation of class projects or the faculty member's individual research (priority given to those that will impact students). Apply by May 15.

For questions please contact Lisa Huntsha x7496.

BCBS settlement

Late last year, the nation's Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) insurers – including Wellmark, Anthem, Highmark, and others – agreed to a settlement fund to settle a long-running suit that was filed by their customers. As a result, approximately $1.9 billion will be available to pay damages -- $1.78 billion for fully insured employer groups and covered employees and $120 million for self-funded employer groups and covered employees.


What This Settlement Means to You

·You may be eligible to receive payment if you were enrolled in a fully-insured BCBS health plan during the time between February 7, 2008 and October 16, 2020.

·You may be eligible to receive payment if you were enrolled in a self-funded BCBS health plan during the time between September 1, 2015 and October 16, 2020.

·The Augustana plan was a self-funded employer group with BCBS from 09/01/2018-present.

·As a result, you may be eligible to receive a cash payment from the settlement fund if you were covered by Augustana’s health plan at that time. (You may also be eligible if you were covered under another employer’s plan and or individual BCBS plan during the time periods listed above.)

·The amount of payment you may receive will depend on several factors, including the number of valid claims that are filed, the premium amounts you paid during the time period, and whether your coverage was fully insured or self-funded.

·If your total claim payment is $5.00 or less, no payment will be made.


What Will Happen Next

·If you would like to participate in the settlement, go to and click on File A Claim under I would Like To. Since BCBS submitted information for eligible members to the settlement court in advance, the claim submission process is simple and requires only basic additional information from you.

·Payments from the fund will be prorated against the total value of the settlement claims submitted by eligible entities in each customer group (fully insured and self-funded).

·No distributions will be made until there is a final resolution of any disputes that could impact claims payments. This process will not begin until November 2021 – please be patient.


If you have any questions or want more information, please visit Thank you.

Plans for returning to work on campus


Dear colleagues,

With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing at Augustana and within the community, and given the wide availability of vaccines, Augustana will be completing its transition back to work-on-campus. We do so because of two long-held beliefs at Augustana that the experience of the past 13 months has reinforced.

First, that face-to-face interaction with our students is the foundation of our effectiveness as an educational institution; and second, that working in community on the Augustana campus provides the best means of supporting our students and each other in the important work that we do.

As a residential college of the liberal arts and sciences, Augustana is defined by the interactions that occur between community members, both students and employees. We value close relationships with students and with co-workers — and we understand that they are best developed face-to-face. Augustana thrives because of a deeply collaborative environment facilitated by as many face-to-face interactions between community members, both formal and informal, as possible.

We all participate in building the culture of the Augustana community through our presence in it. There is significant value in being physically present, given the breadth of engagement with our students, whether as faculty members, members of our team serving students, or team members with students working in their offices. We require students to be on campus and we should expect that of each other as well.

The social connections we develop through work in physical proximity to each other helps sustain us during difficult times. And we are better ambassadors for Augustana when we personally witness (and take part in!) the magic that takes place on campus.

Many of the best interactions are not through email or Zoom meetings, but through those unscheduled social interactions, sidewalk conversations and impromptu meetings with co-workers that define our culture and our high-performing workplace. I agree with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, when he says: "Video meetings are more transactional. Work happens before meetings, after meetings."

I am mindful that most employees came to Augustana to work side-by-side with others and not for a culture in which some members work at the office and others at home. Such a culture promotes segmentation of employees, constricts the free flow of ideas, and risks the segregation of knowledge into silos.

Augustana’s workplace is different from many. We are on a spacious 115-acre campus spread out among dozens of buildings. We are not densely packed together in high-rise buildings.

To be sure, the workplace will be different from that which we left in March of last year. The Augie Strong Task Force will continue taking steps (masking, distancing, plexiglass, etc.) to ensure Augustana continues to live responsibly with evolving public health standards.

For employees who have not been working full-time on campus, the return to full-time work with a full-time physical presence on Augustana’s campus will start on June 1, 2021, and be fully implemented by Aug. 1, 2021.

Supervisors will determine when full-time attendance is beneficial to the department within the June 1 to Aug. 1 timeframe. The dates may be delayed by the cabinet if required by public health officials.

Prior to June 1, employees not currently working on campus may be required to work on campus if their presence is necessary, in the view of the supervisor, to adequately provide services.

Employees foreseeing a need for accommodations added to their workspace (e.g., plexiglass panels), should direct requests to their supervisors. Those requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

We have tried to anticipate some of the questions this transition will prompt. If you don't find your answer in this FAQ, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources.

Thank you for your efforts over the past months to ensure our students’ well-being during challenging times. May the next academic year be a better one for us all.



President Steve Bahls

Updates and events from the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


Dear Campus Community, as the academic year winds down and you look forward to a change of pace, I hope your commitment to embracing diversity and inclusive efforts continue. Below are a few ways to enhance your learning.

May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month! The congressional resolution signed into law by President Jimmy Carter urged "the people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such weeks with appropriate ceremonies and activities". Learn more here.

  • May 13 at 4:00pm - Womeniesta: a celebration of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Women's Voices. Come and listen to your faculty and peers talk about the recent events. JOIN here. 


Mental Health Awareness Month - The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares resources to help increase awareness and destigmatize mental health. Read President Biden's Proclamation on National Mental Health Awareness Month

La Batalla de Puebla a.k.a Cinco de Mayo

On Wednesday May 5th many Americans will revel in Cinco de Mayo festivities. Learn the cultural roots of Cinco de Mayo and the history of La Batalla de Puebla 1862 (the Battle of Puebla).  If you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, keep in mind this is a commemoration of a historical event. Celebrations should be inclusive and respectful, avoiding stereotypical nods. The Anti-Defamation League  offers ideas for consideration.

DEI Calendar


Onward Together,


~Dr. Smith

Office of Human Resources
639 38th St.
Rock Island, Ill., 61201

Phone: 309-794-7352

Fax: 309-794-8962