Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17th Presidential Roundup

The entire UPPSA board wishes you a relaxing winter break and happy holidays. The Presidential
Roundup will be taking a much-needed vacation to San Diego until after the first of the New Year. Feel
free to email with any concerns or questions in the meantime.

• Update on Meeting with CUPPA Dean Pagano Friday, December 10th- On the Friday of finals week representatives from the CUPPA student associations met with CUPPA dean and College of Business Administration (CBA) acting dean Michael Pagano to discuss the ongoing efforts to evaluate a potential CUPPA-CBA merger. We were joined by professors Karen Mossberger and David Merriman, CUPPA faculty serving on the CUPPA-CBA committee to explore this change. Based on conversations with students in the weeks preceding this meeting the multi-association representatives asked Dean Pagano and the committee members questions regarding the ultimate goal of any such merger, the status of research centers and how this will affect the university’s Great Cities Commitment. Professor Perry assured us that building a stronger academic environment, improving the school’s reputation and further refining its mission are paramount to any possible financial savings a merger might produce. Dean Pagano supported this, noting that savings resulting from a merger would most likely be marginal.
The work of the CUPPA-CBA committee has just begun. UPPSA and our partners in the other student associations will continue to work to ensure student voices are heard throughout this exploratory process. Please send any questions, suggestions or concerns to
• Graduate Employee Organization update on Assistantship Taxation Changes- Many people with assistantships noticed a recent change in their level of withholding on their pay. The following is the GEO’s explanation of the situation.
The waivers that come with Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships are, and will remain, tax free. Graduate Assistants however fall under another tax code and do pay tax on their waivers- at a rate of 25% Federal and 3% State. In the past that hasn't been a real issue as the first $5250/ year was tax-exempt and for amounts exceeding the $5250 the university used other IRS codes available to graduate students to claim exemptions.
That changed this Fall semester for a number of reasons and over 100 GAs saw paychecks of between $0 and $300. Some of those of those small paychecks were attributed to a series of errors in the Payroll department - however more than 40 mostly out of state GAs received paychecks that left them almost nothing to live on. We now know that the University of Illinois is currently being audited by the IRS and that it is taking a very rigid approach to withholding- essentially allowing nobody to be tax-exempt above the $5250.
Another issue is that after December 31st it is likely that the ruling which allows the $5250 exemption will expire- meaning every dollar of the value of a waiver will be taxable. In-state tuition rates for 6-11 credit hours are $3238/ semester. Out of state rates are $7237/semester. That will mean that in-state students will pay over $800/semester in tax and out of state will owe over $1800/semester.
GEO recently filed a demand to bargain with the UIC administration over this- while we cannot bargain that the university does not withhold tax at all we can have a say in how the university does that in order to make the effects on GEO members as small as possible. One way to do that would be to have all graduate employees have in-state tuition assessed and waived, regardless of their actual residency. Another way would be to have the withholding spread out over the whole term of the appointment. GEO will also be demanding that the university notify all GAs in their letter of appointments as to possible taxation of GA positions so that GAs know in advance of the affects this may have on their paychecks
We hope to start bargaining early next semester and we need input from as many graduate employees as possible. Please contact GEO at to get involved!
• New MUPP Orientation- On Wednesday, December 8th several dozen new MUPPs attended departmental orientation. Following the orientation, UPPSA members welcomed these new students during a social at Jak’s Tap. The new group includes a fantastic mix of locals, people new to Chicago, experienced planners and folks joining us from other professions or right out of undergrad. Both new and veteran MUPPs are encouraged to join UPPSA at our next General Assembly Meeting and Transit Oriented Dining social in January. Watch your email for news on the date and location of this meeting!
• UPPSA Membership- For those students new to the program, those who have been around for a while but haven’t become members and students who became members last spring, enrollment in the Urban Planning and Policy Student Association is open during the first month of the spring semester. Visit to download the membership form. Return it and your check for $15 to Ann Barnds or any UPPSA board member to enroll or renew your membership. Membership benefits include higher reimbursement rates for approved conference travel, the annual UPPSA gift, and the satisfaction of being a part of one of UIC’s most dynamic and good-looking student associations. Email us at with any questions.
• Retirement of Atanacio Gonzalez from GCI- The Great Cities Institute announced the retirement of Atanacio "Nacho" Gonzalez from his position as Associate Director of the UIC Neighborhoods Initiativewith GCI. After 16 years of service to the University of Illinois, Nacho will be starting a new chapter of his life on January 1, 2011.
Before starting at the university Nacho worked as a Journeyman Rotary Collator Operator in the printing industry, a community organizer, and an organizer trainer. At UIC, he has worked on an astonishing variety of projects: first at the Center for Urban Economic Development, then at the
Natalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Development, and finally with the Neighborhoods Initiative at the Great Cities Institute where he was a researcher, community development specialist, and fellow. In his capacity as Associate Director of the UIC Neighborhoods Initiative, he managed projects and raised over $3.745 million from foundation and federal agencies. Author and co-author of numerous participatory research studies, Nacho has also taught non-profit management classes for GCI’s Professional Education program.
For his extensive contributions to UIC and to Chicago communities and beyond, we are grateful. For the passion that he applies to his work and to the other activities and people in his life, we are inspired. His leadership and camaraderie have made a lasting impact. We warmly wish
Nacho the best of everything in the new adventures that will surely follow his retirement.
• Process Over Outcomes: Blog Your Masters Project- UPPSA gets a lot of questions about how students formulate their masters projects, organize themselves to get the work done and stay sane while working on their masters projects. If you would like to blog about your masters project experience contact us at and let us know what your particular take is and whether you would like your own thread or would like to contribute to more of a discussion.
• Mayoral Candidate Forum, December 14th- The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is convening a forum of candidates for the first open mayoral race in Chicago since 1989. Join us at the UIC Forum Tuesday, December 14th from 6:30-8pm. To reserve a seat visit
• Mentorship Program Comments and Feedback- If you are currently participating in either the APA-IL or CUPPA Alumni mentorship program, we would like to know what you think about your experiences in the program! Let us know what is working well, what is not, and any recommendations or other comments you may have. Please visit and leave your feedback using the appropriate form. Your comments are important and will help to improve the future of both programs, so please share your thoughts!
• UPP Accreditation Student Participation- In the coming months the Urban Planning and Policy department will undergo its self-study as part of the work to be accredited. Be on the lookout for opportunities to provide the department your feedback and help with the study. In partnership with the department, UPPSA will help disseminate surveys, host focus groups and help analyze how the department tracks outcomes. For more information about accreditation take a look at
• Book Exchange- As this semester is ending, a new one is going to begin shortly. Don’t forget to sell your books for some extra holiday cash, or rent them out, if you are attached to them. UPPSA book exchange in online! Go to to post your books.
• Masters Project Forum- Based on a past UPP Next event during which UPP faculty and former students presented on the MUPP masters project, we thought it would be a good idea to begin an on-going discussion board for students to put their ideas out into the MUPP community, learn about resources and find people for collaboration. One of the ideas that came up was the disconnect between completing a solely individual masters project and then working in careers that will almost never involve purely individual work. Us this thread as a forum for collaboration. Feel free to post 1) your idea for a masters project 2) requests for information, sources or people to connect with 3) provide feedback to others and 4) begin the process of pursuing a collaborative masters project. To view it go to
• Academic or Assistantship Advocacy- Any MUPPs with concerns about department-wide academic issues are encouraged to contact UPPSA at with your feedback about the program. The Board of UPPSA meets regularly with the UPP department and the Dean of CUPPA. Let us be your advocate. Also, for those students with assistantships, UPPSA President Bob Fuller is also the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) steward for CUPPAH. If you feel you have been treated unfairly in your assistantship (Teaching, Graduate or Research) feel free to contact him at to get connected with the GEO’s grievance resources.
• If you have important news for fellow MUPPs and you would like it included in the President’s Weekly Roundup and/or on the UPPSA website email by 2 p.m. each Sunday.
Have a great week,
Bob Fuller
President- UPPSA

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