SENATE SEC Action February 28, 1997

Unanimous Objection to Benefits Redesign

The Senate Executive Committee held a special meeting on February 28. The main agenda item was to hear members' comments on the Benefits Redesign Report (Almanac February 11, 1997) and discuss their views with the Faculty Senate ad hoc committee to review that report. After a lively discussion that filled the entire time allocated for the meeting, the following resolution was adopted:

The Senate Executive Committee strongly and unanimously objects to the proposed benefits redesign. We object on grounds both of process and of substance. We have been given too little time in which to respond and too little information on which to base a reasoned assessment of the proposal. In terms of substance, we have grave concerns about the revocation of a benefit--the graduate tuition benefit--upon which some present members of the faculty and staff have relied in making life choices. We are concerned both about the effect of this revocation on those faculty and staff members and about the precedent this would set for future reductions in tuition benefits and other aspects of faculty compensation. With regard to health benefits, we are particularly concerned that the increase in faculty and staff contributions entails an overall reduction in compensation. More generally, we are troubled by the absence of clearly articulated long-term principles on which faculty and staff members could rely in making decisions about benefits. We urge the administration to impose a moratorium on these changes until the faculty has had the opportunity to discuss them fully. We charge the Chair to explain our concerns in detail to the President and the Provost.

-- From the Senate Office

In response to the SEC resolution above, the following comments are made by the co-chairs of the Benefits Advisory Committee whose Review and Recommendations were published in Almanac February 11, 1997.

Response to SEC Resolution

We were disappointed to read the Senate Executive Committee's statement of objection to the recommended changes in the University's benefits plan. The Benefits Redesign Committee, which we co-chair, includes faculty and staff among its members, and the Committee spent the better part of a year in the preparation of its recommendations. We spent weeks, in addition, reviewing the recommendations before they were published with the University's Academic Planning & Budget Committee, and benefited greatly from that Committee's advice and counsel.

It is imperative that broad consultation proceed over the recommended benefits redesign, so that all views may be adequately aired and understood. With this in mind, we intend to proceed with the briefings now underway in the Schools and administrative units across the University. We look forward, in particular, to further conversations with the Senate leadership. Meetings of the Senate leadership with the President, the Provost and the Executive Vice President are already scheduled this week, and we expect those meetings will yield a full and fair exchange of views.

-- Barbara J. Lowery, Associate Provost
-- Clint Davidson, Vice President for Human Resources


Volume 43 Number 24
March 4, 1997

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