SENATE From the Chair

Senate Executive Committee
Resolution on Benefits Redesign
Adopted Unanimously March 19, 1997

There now has been extensive opportunity to discuss the benefits redesign report among all constituencies of the University. Over the last two weeks the Chair, Past Chair and Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate have had frank and useful discussions with the president and provost around benefits redesign and have reached agreement that the administration and the faculty will create separate committees to work in close collaboration on the next phase of the process. The Senate Executive Committee welcomes this development and will appoint the faculty committee by the end of this term.

SEC received the report of the Faculty Senate ad hoc Committee to Review the Benefits Redesign Report on March 17 [see text, in this issue]. After extensive discussions with faculty from across the University, feedback from the various schools and full and complete discussions with the Faculty Senate ad hoc Committee, the president, provost, deputy provost and associate provost, the Senate Executive Committee unanimously adopted the following resolution.


After careful review of the proposed benefits redesign and following the advice of the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Benefits Redesign Report, the Senate Executive Committee calls on the administration to take the following steps to improve the proposed plan.

  1. Agree to reexamine and redesign the benefits package for the following years, in a comprehensive fashion, according to the following principles:
    a. Reconsider the entire benefits package comprehensively when restructuring retirement and disability benefits.
    b. Affirm Penn's commitment to maintaining compensation at highly competitive levels with peer universities in order to attract and retain highly distinguished scholars and staff members.
    c. Ensure that the benefits program and salary levels separately remain highly competitive with those offered by peer institutions, even though the mix in amounts spent on benefits and salary within total compensation will vary over time.
    d. Make any future changes in benefits and salary levels to ensure that the total level of compensation does not decline and remains highly competitive.
    e. Examine the feasibility of developing adequate mental health, hospice, and institu tional and community long-term care coverage using conventional and alternative delivery systems.
    f. Develop a set of principles that can be used to identify that sub-set of regular, part-time employees for whom an appropriate benefits plan should be provided.

  2. a. Remove lifetime caps on health care insurance benefit payments in all plans.
    b. If the Keystone POS, PennCare or US Healthcare substitutes for the BC/BS Comprehensive Plan do not perform satisfactorily, consider reintroducing BC/BS Comprehensive as a mid-range alternative between BS/BS 100, PennCare and the HMO options.
    c. Adopt state-of-the-art techniques for monitoring quality of care and member satisfaction in the health care plans.
    d. Provide major immediate education to all Penn employees about the nature of the various health care choices and greater access to benefits counsellors. Also provide improved education about plans in future years.

  3. Affirm Penn's current commitment to the undergraduate tuition benefit.

  4. Grandfather the graduate tuition benefit for all current faculty and staff and for faculty and staff hired to begin work by January 15, 1998.

  5. In reporting the amount of annual salary increases commencing July 1, 1997, to individual employees, identify specifically the component in dollars or percent that is due to the one-time increase caused by the conversion of flex dollars to salary and the component that reflects the annual increase.

  6. Recognize that any "savings," from the current benefits redesign should be distributed equitably. Deans should not have discretion in distributing such savings.

  7. Reconsider developing an appropriate flexible benefits plan.

SEC also endorses the administration's commitment that the Benefits Advisory Committee work in coordination with a high-level Faculty Senate committee to be appointed by the end of the Spring term 1997. These two committees should work separately but collaborate fully with each other. Their first order of business should be to develop a long-term benefits philosphy to guide Penn's future work in benefits redesign.

-- Peter Kuriloff, Faculty Senate Chair


Volume 43 Number 27
March 25, 1997

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