Faculty Council Newsletter April 21 2011

Betsy Rodriguez from Human Resources spoke about the new retirement 
plans.  This is only for new employees.  She spoke of the retirement 
advisory committee, which presented many opinions, but did manage to 
reach consensus.  They concluded that the would be comfortable with a 
combination plan for new employees - half defined benefits and half 
defined contribution.  They also discussed other ways to reduce risk for 

Q.  Did they discuss indexing of benefits?
A.  This was a big issue.  This concerns the issue that lower paid 
employees might not be able to match matching benefits.

The committee made the following recommendations.

1. Protecting the current plan - how do we protect it for current 
employees?  After a lot of study and review and consulting, they are 
very comfortable that current employees will not be at risk.  But they 
do want reassurance from the Board:
a) full funding of the plan.  Many retirement plans across the nation 
are in trouble, but we are better off.  We have been disciplined and 
provided full funding.  But they want it in writing for the future.
b) Payoff of unfunded liabilities over time.  Let's make sure we don't 
stop this from happening.  In writing.  Right now this is at $450 
million, and is projected to be paid off in 20 years.
c) Continue the stabilization fund.  This was set up in 2008.  This is a 
reserve fund so that the money the university puts in is averaged out.
Q.  What about matching the cost of living (COLA)?
A.  Right now benefit is not cost of living indexed.  You can buy a COLA 
at the time you retire.  Most employees don't do this.  Most plans with 
COLA are in bad shape.  UM has done COLA ad-hoc, and this accounts for 
most of the unfunded liabilities.  No COLA's are expected anytime soon.

2. Contributions introduced in 2009 will continue, but they want the 
Board to "strive" to not raise them further.

3. Develop and support a strategic employee communications plan to 
foster understanding and appreciation of benefits.

4. Future plans must reduce risk to employees.

The report is on the faculty and staff benefits web page, and the FC web 

* 60% of UM employees do not vest.
* 17% of UM employees retire with more than 20 years.
* Tenured/tenure track have longest service; 5% turn over.
* Average age is 46.
* As long as a retirement plan is competitive, it is not typically a 
determining factor for people being at UM.
* Assets are $2.6 billion.  It is in a lock box.  It now equals the 
budget of UM.
* 434 pensions started in 2010, which is double the previous year.
* 7000 retirees.

We are heading into a period in which the plan needs the highest 
contributions to date.  Current projections (up until 2017) will wipe 
out stabilizing fund.  One alternative is to increase employee 

How competitive is the current plan?  Most other faculty at peer 
institutions get defined contributions.  Mixed plans are common in 
private sector.

(At this point, the fire alarms went off, and we left for a short while.)

Leah Cohen

She handed out an important letter from the diversity enhancement 
committee.  It urges Steve Owens to teach the Board about domestic 
partner benefits.

Leona Rubin

There are three ballots going out soon:

1.  Faculty committee on tenure representation, making it similar to FC 
2.  Grievance.  The ballot statement will include a reference to AAUP's 
opposition, as well as FC's support.
3.  Modifications to Gen Ed program (to be decided separately)
  a.  Capstone requirement may be met by any 4000 level course if a 
department wishes;
  b.  Diversity course requirement.

The motion to send out the ballots passed.

Clyde Bentley

An electronic survey to evaluate the Chancellor is going out tomorrow.  
Please participate in this survey.

Chair's Report

Provost Foster and Leona Rubin discussed the creation of task force to 
evaluate e-learning, particularly the academic aspects.  Committees are 
to be formed, perhaps this summer.

IFC Report - Bill Weibolds

The IFC had a long conversation about civility.  One of the issues 
discussed was whether faculty have any responsibility to control the way 
their colleagues behave?  (Personally I have no idea what this is 
about.  The word "civility" can mean so many things, and no-one has 
explained to me what is the purpose or goal of these discussions.)

The IFC are also talking about the domestic partner issue, and will 
continue to do so.

Q. Where are we?  Does it have to go through board of curators?
A. Yes.

Changes to Academic Calendar - Victoria Johnson

Reading day is currently Thursday.  Student groups would like to put it 
back to Friday.  Also this semester, the Thursday reading day created 
problems with making up snow days.  But the disadvantage is that 
students might have four finals in one day, this is hard on faculty 
teaching large sections who typically have to prepare make-ups.  Having 
reading day on Friday will mean we follow the compressed schedule from 
7:30am to 10pm.

The rules were suspended rules, and FC passed moving reading day from 
Thursday to Friday.

Bill Weibolds

He proposed two resolutions.  These come from Bill Weibolds, not any 

1.  Memorial for those who died in recent wars.
Questions: What about older wars after WWI?  What about the Civil War?  
Those who die in the peace corps?

2.  Close certain roads anytime when school is in session, not just the 
current 8:15-3:45 (or whatever it is).

Harry Tyrer

He has released the document concerning the proposed committee 
concerning IP issues.  This should be on the FC web site.

Submitted by Stephen Montgomery-Smith