Council of University System Faculty
General Body Meeting: Thursday, April 17, 2008
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, University Center
CUSF Members Present (21):
Joyce Shirazi (UMUC, Secretary), Deloris James (UMUC), Bill Chapin (UMES), Bill Stuart (UMCP, Vice Chair), Patti Cossard (UMCP), Martha Siegel (TU, At-Large), Jay Zimmerman (TU), Joyce Currie Little (TU), Joyce Tenney (UMBC), Dennis Coates (UMBC), Zane Berge (UMBC), John Collins (UMBI, Chair), Rose Jagus (UMBI), Lee Richardson (UB), Alcott Arthur (CSU, At-Large), Paul Flexner (SU), Bobbi Adams (SU), Dave Parker (SU), Monika Gross (BSU), Rahim Ashkeboussi (FSU), Kim Rotruck (FSU)
Jim Sansbury (USM, Associate Vice Chancellor, Office of Financial Affairs)
Call to Order
John Collins called the meeting to order at 10:00 am. Joyce Tenney introduced the Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Dr. Marilyn Demorest. Dr. Demorest welcomed CUSF to UMBC and discussed how the university has been transformed from a commuter school to a residential campus due to the many new residence halls and other buildings. The United States Geographic Survey (USGS) Water Science Center recently opened in the UMBC Research and Technology Park. Erickson Retirement Communities will construct a $20 million building at the same University Park. Dr. Demorest noted that space is the biggest concern. A new Performing Arts and Humanities building will be the next new facility. Concerning enrollments, UMBC finally broke 12,000 including 2600 graduate students this year. This includes a Gates Cambridge Scholar who is currently on UMBC’s campus, with a 2nd one interviewing for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Dr. Demorest added that Dr. Elliot Hirshman, currently the Chief Research Officer at George Washington University, will become the new Provost. Dr. Arthur T. Johnson, the current Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is stepping down. John Collins noted that Dr. Johnson was a founding CUSF member. Regarding a question from Martha Siegel about the percentage of part time faculty, Dr. Demorest noted that of approximately 400 instructional faculty members teaching in the fall 2007 semester, roughly 200 were part time.
The March 2008 CUSF Meeting Minutes were approved.
Alcott Arthur noted that the Membership and Rules Committee emailed statements from all CUSF candidates to the membership. Each candidate gave a one-minute statement and CUSF members elected by secret ballot, the following 2008-2009 CUSF officers:
Chair Bill Chapin
Vice Chair Martha Siegel
Secretary Joyce Shirazi
At Large Bill Stuart, Joyce Tenney
No candidates elected to trickle down.
Faculty Benefits - Jim Sansbury
John Collins introduced Jim Sansbury, the USM Associate Vice Chancellor in the Office of Financial Affairs. Jim Sansbury mentioned that he been around for 36 years, that he works with Joe Vivona, and that his role with CUSF is to provide facts, such as the costs of the various benefits, and to explain USM business processes. Jim Sansbury stated that CUSF should get Chancellor Brit Kirwan’s support if we want to make changes, and noted that we need to go to Irv Goldstein and Joe Vivona before asking the Chancellor for his support. Jim Sansbury also elaborated on the possibility of the increase from 7 ¼% to 9 ¼% for the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), which two years ago cost $16 million. Currently 75% of staff and faculty are in the ORP. He stated that the Chancellor asked him to run the dollar data on the 2% increase and to prepare a benefits analysis comparing USM ORP contributions, retiree health benefits and tuition remission to other universities.
Rahim Ashkeboussi: Is there a difference in State retirement plan vs. the ORP in health benefits for retiree and spouse?
Jim Sansbury: Yes, with ORP it takes 16 years of service for the employee to receive the full health subsidy. To cover your spouse you need 25 years of service. As for the State retirement plan, both employee and spouse receive full state subsidy after 16 years. We are currently working on the data from other universities.
Martha Siegel: I recommend that CUSF and CUSS have a representative on this committee.
Jim Sansbury: This “committee” consists of me and just one other person in my office. The Board of Regents recognizes that the employer ORP contribution is lower than other universities and the retiree health benefits for ORP participants is lower than State Pension Plan participants. In 2004, the Board’s Effectiveness and Efficiency Committee reviewed our tuition remission program. While it appeared our tuition remission program was generous compared to other universities, the Committee decided not to make any changes because of the comparatively lower ORP contributions and retiree health benefits.
Paul Flexner: Will that impact us then? Voluntary contribution has nothing to do with the increase?
Jim Sansbury: Legislation drafted in 2006 included a 3%, 4% and 5% phase-in of employee contributions. Possibly, that can be changed because it has not gone that far yet. It appears employees are looking for additional ways to save for retirement because about 15,000 employees have supplemental plans. By the way, employee contribution for the State Plan was phased in and now is 5% and that includes the lower paid nonexempt employees.
Jay Zimmerman: This means increasing the amount the State puts in and then we must increase ours as well?
Jim Sansbury: There is concern about the employee contribution.
Jay Zimmerman: Why not make it optional with a carrot? ‘Up to 5% for the employee and the state will match it.
Jim Sansbury: I can look into that. It is important to note that voluntary contributions are tied to the $15,500 maximum contribution limit for 403(b) plans. That limit does not apply to mandated contributions.
Bill Chapin: I think that this is something that we need to discuss among ourselves and put on the May agenda, and I am just making a motion to put it on the agenda for the May CUSF Executive meeting.
John Collins: Is that a motion?
All: Yes, for the May CUSF Executive meeting.
Jay Zimmerman: Why is it 16 years for me, but 25 years for my spouse?
Jim Sansbury: First there was nothing for spouses, and then it evolved to the group rate at 16 years of service and then a full state subsidy at 25 years.
Jim Sansbury: $ Per DBM, $10 Million is the cost annually to provide the full health subsidy at 16 years rather than 25 years. How to fund this is the issue. We should not expect any increase in benefits. You should know that the State of Maryland has a $14.6 unfunded retirees health insurance liability. The State Legislature has established a Blue Ribbon Commission to develop ways to fund this liability that could include changing benefits. My guess is that there will be equal benefits, not better benefits. I am on that Committee representing the Chancellor.
Jay Zimmerman: What about sick leave?
Jim Sansbury: An employee earning $75,000 who did not use any sick leave in 36 years would get about $2,600 additional retirement pay a year or $100 per pay check. If you want a payout at the end, it requires a change in law. There are only two ways to be paid out; either the State allows a deposit to your account or paying out a portion in cash – both require a change in law.
Paul Flexner: Why at the end of 30 years? Why not in your check every month or 5 years, etc?
Jim Sansbury: I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. You need to be very careful asking to be paid for unused sick leave. Any request will invite scrutiny on collegial leave.
Bobbi Adams: The choice of ORP vs. State was given to me when I joined, but none of it from this perspective. I feel that I was lied to. They push you into the ORP, but none of these differences are on the list.
Bill Stuart: I came here 35 years ago and we got “no” information.
Jim Sansbury: Some campuses have done a better job than others explaining the differences. We have paid a lot of attention to this in the last few years, and I believe they are all doing a good job now.
Bobbi Adams: I was told no one chooses the State plan because it is not good.
Jim Sansbury: About two years ago, an ORP participant introduced legislation to change the benefit. He retired after 23 years and he did not know that his spouse would not get the subsidy.
Bill Chapin: These things do not appear in the places where they need to.
Jim Sansbury: Again, you need to be careful about collegial leave - you may not want to invite scrutiny.
Jay Zimmerman: I prefer scrutiny.
Patti Cossard: What is collegial leave?
Jim Sansbury: Collegial leave is in the faculty policy --15 days sick leave, and faculty get another 25 days of sick leave while the classes are covered and no leave is taken.
Jay Zimmerman: Just because the administration likes it does not mean it is good for faculty.
Bill Chapin: It varies on the campuses. Librarians have separate policies and it needs to be looked at.
Jim Sansbury: I know that that Faculty, Exempt Staff and Nonexempt Staff are the different classes of employees. I am not sure where Librarians fit in.
Bill Chapin: Librarians are faculty on some campuses.
Patti Cossard: Trying to get clarification on these things is difficult, including a policy on librarians. We have problems with people getting tenure and moving to Librarian IV. We are told we do not have collegial leave.
Jim Sansbury: Next is tuition remission – going to any campus from any campus.
Kim Rotruck: Full benefits to any school in the USM stopped in 1990 or 1991.
Bill Chapin: The first change was in the middle 1980’s.
Kim Rotruck: It is definitely dependent on when you were hired.
Jim Sansbury: I need to clarify that prior to the current policy BOT employees received 100% tuition remission at any of their institutions. UM employees received 1/3 tuition remission at any UM institution. UM employees comprise about 85% of total employees. The current policy was developed in 1990 and the administration was very concerned that allowing all employees 100% tuition remission at any institution would be too expensive. A total of $9.9 million is spent per year by USM on this. Graduate school is not included if the employee was hired after 1990.
Monika Gross: I am at BSU, but my daughter got into the pre-physical therapy program to get her 50% to go to TU instead of BSU.
Kim Rotruck: I am at FSU and my son is studying mechanical engineering at FSU. For the last two years of the program, he must attend UMCP. Will he have to pay 50%?
Jim Sansbury: If the degree is from UMCP and the tuition is billed from UMCP, then he may have to pay 50%.
Patti Cossard: We get dependent benefits as state employees. Can faculty get enhanced benefits?
Jim Sansbury: Nothing technically prevents this. California or Illinois faculty have better tuition remission benefits than staff.
Patti Cossard: It is a long-term commitment and it is a two-way street, and it helps to attract the best. I come from Princeton University where they do anything, i.e. buy houses for faculty.
Bill Stuart: Any questions for us?
Jim Sansbury: Keep an eye on the Blue Ribbon Commission to Study Retiree Health-Care Funding Options results. The Co-Chair is Senator Edward Kasemeyer. Also, remember that collegial leave is a big benefit.
Martha Siegel: Well, it doesn’t cost anything.
Bobbi Adams: We want the same benefits as faculty in the State plan.
Jay Zimmerman: ORP is definitely not significantly better.
Rahim Ashkeboussi: Is there a cost analysis for not providing full tuition remission to all? The fees are evaporating all of the benefits.
Jim Sansbury: No, not that I know of.
Patti Cossard: Do not throw us in with everyone. How many dependents are we talking about?
Jim Sansbury: About half of those receiving tuition remission benefits are dependents.
Paul Flexner: I recommend adding this to the agenda for the CUSF Faculty Affairs committee. We need to figure out how faculty really feel about contributing another 5%.
Jim Sansbury: Sit down with Irv Goldstein first and then ask the Chancellor about this.
John Collins: The Faculty Senate Chairs meeting tomorrow may help with setting a precedent.
Patti Cossard: Is USM now opening its calendar for legislative action?
Jim Sansbury: Yes.
Paul Flexner stated that after the May CUSF meeting, we will discuss our plans with Jim Sansbury. Paul Flexner noted that it sounds like the legislation can get the ORP benefit increased. Benefits for contingent faculty is important, as well as the 16-year versus 25-year spouse coverage time period. To get us up to 14 ½ % retirement contribution within 4 years and the State will donate 9 ¼ which will have us donating the remainder, may cause some concerns. The State wants to do this over 3 years and they are imposing upon faculty. Paul Flexner continued to explain that we never were asked what we wanted. He asked if we really want this now, and what do we do if folks do not want to increase our part to 5%? Rahim Ashkeboussi recommended that we educate the faculty. Martha Siegel suggested that someone from CUSF should get on Jim Sansbury’s committee and that we need to be vigilant. Patti Cossard stated that it is important to cost it out, because at some point we will not have enough retirement money. She added that many times we forget that at tax time it ameliorates the costs and the benefits come back. Patti Cossard said that we need to have a comprehensive review of this, especially since she is a single mom. Joyce Little Currie said that at the age of 70 ½ you have to start withdrawing money. Moreover, the State dropped AIG Retirement and now she has to pay taxes. She elaborated that whenever the State drops a retirement fund, which they did, taxes paid are based on where it is contributed. Therefore, by the end of this year, if you are 70 ½ years of age or above, you are forced to withdraw all AIG’s money and pay taxes on it.
John Collins asked Paul Flexner to send us something via email for the Faculty Senate Chairs’ meeting tomorrow. Paul Flexner noted that we need to involve more faculty in this by including the ORP options at the Faculty Senate Chairs meeting, as well as including it as an agenda item for CUSF in May. Martha Siegel asked if we could ask the Faculty Senate Chairs if they have faculty who could teach us all on this issue. She also asked Paul Flexner if he could mail out to CUSF this agenda information, and he agreed to do so.
Bill Stuart stated that the P-20 Leadership Council is now transforming and they are just getting organized. However, there are no action items yet, and alignment issues are worrisome. Topics for the committee include college enrollment issues, such as motivating students for college, ethics, etc. The Governor now dominates the committee and it is no longer solely academic. Now most of the members are appointees including the Chair. Deloris James added that we should lobby him to put one of us on the committee. Patti Cossard noted that the slate has already been selected. John Collins said that Secretary James Lyons said faculty members may be able to sit on some committees.
Martha Siegel commended the CUSF Legislative Committee because they helped us avoid the textbook bill and assisted with Hagerstown, as well. John Collins noted that he had already thanked them during BOR Faculty Awards ceremony at Hagerstown. Then CUSF gave Patti Cossard a round of applause, as she graciously thanked Lee Richardson and CUSF for their participation.
Student Research Day
Patti Cossard stated that the research work of the graduate student who attended Student Research Day (SRD) will be included in the CUSF newsletter. She also asked if we could discuss the inclusion of graduate work in future SRD’s for the May CUSF meeting. Patti Cossard noted that she met with Ms. Lillyann Brown, USM Administrative Assistant and her supervisor at USM after the SRD. Joyce Tenney and Martha Siegel added that we need to figure out if we really want to have SRD next year. If the legislators will come, then maybe we can, but otherwise we may want to reconsider. Food and Annapolis 101 need to be taken into consideration, as well. Patti Cossard suggested that we separate SRD from Annapolis 101.
John Collins noted that Regent David Nevins has asked for a textbook bill recommendation from CUSF. John Collins added that the Student Regent, Richard Scott said that he has hundreds of ideas. Martha Siegel made a motion that CUSF send a letter of Best Practices to USM provosts, etc. because we are missing the boat for some PR-- noting that we are conscious of the necessity for timely book orders and best practices. The motion said to send it to the faculty by sending it to the Senate Chairs and the AAAC. Patti Cossard seconded the motion. John Collins said that he will send it to all CUSF members tonight and take it to the Faculty Senate Chairs’ meeting on Friday.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 1:10 pm.