Bill Paulus photo

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Dear FM,

Remember those turkeys in the spotlight of my biweekly newsletter about this time last year - the turkeys many of us witnessed roaming around campus? Wow, what a difference a year makes from then until now, eight months into a global pandemic.

With Thanksgiving this week and the focus on gratitude, it’s easy to reflect on what I’m thankful for in FM because I witness your commitment and dedication every day, all year round. Specifically this year, I echo Vice President Mike Berthelsen’s message from last Friday expressing how grateful I am for the extraordinary work each of you continually accomplish and the flexibility you have shown during this past year. COVID-19 has rocked our world, and still, you have adapted, cooperated and stepped up to the challenge to make the campus safe, reliable and welcoming. Amazing. Thank you FM staff! 

Here are only a few highlights of what our FM staff helped to accomplish recently and why I’m filled with gratitude for our FM staff:

  • Mass testing for COVID-19: The North Campus District team did an excellent job to help set up the Field House for the free two-day saliva-testing event for the U of M Twin Cities community that was held on November 16 and 17. The mass testing was hosted by the U Medical Reserve Corps and was part of a rollout of about a dozen new testing sites around Minnesota. Site Commander Kathy Berlin said, “It went better than we could have imagined.” Around 4,000 people were tested over the course of the event. Click here to see the story on Fox9 News.

  • COVID-19 research testing site move: Timothy Schacker, M.D., Medical School Vice Dean for Research and Program Director in HIV Medicine, wrote to U Services with gratitude for the heroic effort that the Health Sciences and Energy Management teams put forth in moving the COVID-19 research testing site from 717 Delaware to the Children’s Rehab Building. The site which receives research visits from people who are known to be COVID positive had to be moved due to colder weather. Dr. Schacker shared that “FM teams did an absolutely outstanding job at making this happen.” In a matter of days, the new location was up and running. 

  • Sanitary water testing: Over the last couple of months, Energy Management’s Water Utilities crew supported wastewater sampling for tracking potential exposures to COVID-19. This research is important for tracking spread and exposure in residence halls.

  • Rapson steam leak: Energy Management, the East Bank District, and Central Services worked together to repair a steam leak at Rapson Hall.

Shown above U Construction’s Laborers, Jeremy Uchtman and Kyle Hughes, help to move a 3700lb granite slab in order to excavate the steam line that runs beneath it

As you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, consider your health and the health of your coworkers and loved ones. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to develop your Thanksgiving health plans as President Gabel mentioned in her recent email message

This Thanksgiving season in addition to being grateful for FM staff, I’m reflecting on the people I appreciate most in my life. However you choose to celebrate your time away, I hope you find time to relax, and consider the mindful tips from the Center for Spirituality & Healing to make the most of the holiday season.

Have a great week!



Open Enrollment
This year's Benefits Open Enrollment began November 1 and goes through November 30. This brochure explains what benefits can be changed or selected during Open Enrollment and includes the 2021 medical plan rates; also available in: Amharic, Hmong, Oromo, Somali, Spanish and Tigrinya. A Virtual Benefits Fair is also available this year. Don't hesitate to call the Contact Center if you have any questions about your benefits. Call 612-624-8647 or 1-800-756-2363 and select option 1 for benefits.

TRIRIGA updates and resources
Starting December 1, please contact 1-help ( for any TRIRIGA related issues. Click here to learn more from the latest EAM Newsletter. 

  • Steps to getting TRIRIGA Support:

  • Things to know when calling 1-help:

    • Your location

    • Are you successfully able to log into TRIRIGA?

    • Are you using the mobile app?

    • What are you doing in TRIRIGA to generate the issue or question?    

    • A good description of the problem and the steps you’ve taken.

TRIRIGA mobile users
Please take the TRIRIGA Mobile Survey (emailed to mobile users earlier today) by December 1. This survey is designed to gather feedback on the mobile app and usage, in order to address issues and help improve user experience. We want all mobile users to complete this. As a reminder, if you have not yet taken mobile training, please click here now to sign up for one of two remaining sessions:

  • 12/01/2020 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM

  • 12/02/2020 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM

FM Annual Update
I’ll be addressing all FM employees as I do every year in the Fall. The details about how and when are being planned and more information will be forthcoming. Since the format may logistically be different than past years due to the pandemic, questions and comments are being collected in advance. Please submit your question(s) and/or comment(s) here.

U of M COVID-19 Resources
If you are concerned about your COVID-19 status, find testing either through the University’s testing options or the State of Minnesota. If you are in need of time away for COVID-19-related concerns like sickness or caregiving, please contact your supervisor or U Services HR for additional information or support. Other resources:

Wellbeing Program
The Wellbeing Program kicked off a new year on October 1 debuting the new platform Virgin Pulse. Go to the Wellbeing website to learn more and sign up with Virgin Pulse!

Latest FM News

We appreciate your hard work!