Attendees: Henry Scarton, Lou Padula, Curtis Powell, Robert
Block, Tamar Gordon, Patricia Search, Ash Kapila, Bruce Nauman,
The Minutes from
June Deery reported on the activities of the Faculty
Advisory Group on Compensation. The
group was charged with helping categorize faculty performance, determining how
to reward those who were doing well and determining how to retain and attract
top faculty. The committee was told that
In July 2003, there was a report to the Deans and Chairs (see attached). The general idea was for Deans to guide faculty on how to assess individuals in their own field with some indicators of performance. Evaluators would also have some flexibility. Base salaries would be normalized by looking at the market yearly and if there were salary adjustments needed, it would start with those most out of alignment. The report, while trying to be comprehensive, could not cover everything. There was some reassurance that faculty salaries would not decrease and that salary adjustments would come from a separate fund, not those designated for salaries or merit increases. This would occur during a one-time major adjustment as opposed to an annual evaluation.
Some questions not addressed include:
Where is the salary information being kept and who has access to it?
With current budget cuts, will this actually ever happen?
Is there a separate budget for such a process?
Will this eliminate any gender inequities, or adjust for deflated starting salaries?
Will any back pay and fringe benefits be included?
The report does not address when all departments would follow the new template and whether each department would have their own criteria or whether they would follow universal standards. It is not clear if demotion will occur or if it does, whether there is an appeals process. It is not clear how this relates to Promotion & Tenure and whether it will involve a peer review. There was no discussion in the report on getting rid of tenure.
Richard Leifer, a Faculty Advisory Group member, stated that there is always some kind of trepidation with a faculty/administrator committee. In his opinion, Curtis has done a great job in letting faculty participate and in playing the role of a facilitator.
Ash Kapila asked if there was any discussion about what would happen if someone were put in a particular range in the salary table and wished to be reevaluated. He asked how long it would be before the next evaluation and the possibility of a change. June Deery thought that it would be done on an annual basis.
Wesley Huang, member of the Faculty Advisory Group, said when this was originally proposed, there was a lot of concern. The administration agreed there are good reasons to revise the compensation system and he feels that if the committee devises criteria, the administration is willing to allocate money to correct the inequities. It seems there will be a certain amount of structure imposed by administration such as salary ranges based on the market and rank and evaluations done by department Chairs and Deans. There are still some details about structure that are vague such as salary stability and base pay vs. merit raises. A faculty range is judged by long term accomplishments in a 3-5 year period, where merit raises are based on the previous year.
Sharon Anderson-Gold, Senator-at-Large, asked if there is
any more information on a separate budget for this project. Curtis Powell stated there is a separate fund
Ed Rogers, Emeritus Faculty, began his talk with “Each of you who retire will have some serious concerns that are certain to grow with time including wellness, income and the passage of friends and family.” Ed went on to say that he would focus of wellness and income.
Health insurance is currently a big issue. Active employees have a health plan just as retirees have one, however the one for active employees will probably not be the same as when you retire.
Medicare will help although medical premiums will go up even
though Medicare becomes the primary source of insurance. An interesting thing that has come along is
the new prescription plan. How it will affect
Sources in retirement include social security,
Under discussion in the retiree’s forum with Rensselaer Human Resources are two possible adjustments. One is a 70% recovery of net compound loss to inflation from 1990 to 2003 and a stop gap for the neediest which will consist of a minimum pension of $25 per month per year of service.
A major problem is that $18 million of funding will be required
In his closing thoughts, Ed stated that all benefit programs
are complex, advised everyone to pay close attention to information and correspondence
from HR and also stated that retirees take an active interest and pride in
When Bill first came to
To be a candidate for this, a family member must be an
eligible employee at a participating institution and certified by the sending
institution. Once this is done, normal
admissions apply. The main benefit is that
it attracts outstanding employees and attracts people to the school. The list includes Smith, Trinity, GWU,
Schools that join can set their own conditions as to how many scholarships they allow, how many exchanges are allowed and what tuition percent is covered.
Curtis Powell stated that the consortium was looked at by Human Resources but was not appropriate due to the cost effectiveness. If the protocols have changed, he would be willing to review it.
He complimented the report on retirees and agreed that retirement planning is important. HR has improved the process of disseminating benefits information not just with new employees, but with current faculty and staff. There are ongoing discussions with TIA-Creff, Fidelity, and Scudder reps that are available to talk to faculty and staff regarding retirement.
Obviously healthcare costs are extremely important. Individuals running for President are all talking about healthcare and universal healthcare which has an impact on all employees.
Regarding health care costs over the last few years, average
national benefits increases were 15%, 14% and 12%. Some individuals have plans that increased by
20-30%. The national cost is now up to
$7,000 per year for each employee.
The adoption benefit increased from $1,000 to $1,500. The annual dental maximum increased from $1,250
Long term disability is now free for regular employees and
paid at 100%.
There was no change in the Dental plan premiums. The Medical Plan employee portion increased from $2.38 to $7.96 per pay period. He noted that the average increase according to the Kaiser Family Foundation is between $239-$276/year where the RHP and R-HMO will be between $62 and $191/year.
The normal contribution to a Medical plan is 70/30 where the
employer pays 70% and the employee pays 30%.
Ash Kapila asked that since the faculty has input into the
compensation plan, why isn’t input on benefit changes sought from the faculty? Curtis stated that there are no major changes
being made to the plan. He first puts together
an RFP (request for proposal), evaluates the plan document and what the laws
recommend and lastly what the trends are.
Curtis must share these recommendations with the Board of Trustees, members
of the Cabinet and President Jackson. The
most important thing that Curtis looks at is to have an effective and
competitive benefit program to recruit and retain top faculty and staff.
Ash thought that with any change there would be some formal way in which input from faculty and staff could be taken, perhaps some sort of an institute-wide committee to look at healthcare benefits. Ed Rogers stated there had been a healthcare task force but now the Faculty Senate generally has a compensation committee. Henry Scarton said he had previously been on the fringe benefit committee but then it disappeared. He believes that much of this negativism could be ended if there were some sort of informal conversations regarding benefits. Curtis responded that when those committees were put together, it was for major changes to the healthcare benefits. Henry Scarton suggested grandfathering people in when changes are made to avoid people misunderstanding what their coverage is. Curtis responded by explaining there is an effective communication campaign that goes out to all faculty and staff explaining what the changes will be to allow people to understand coverage.
Jim Stodder, Senator from
Curtis replied that it's 'one
Bruce Nauman asked about the $18 million expense. Curtis responded by saying that due to the funding
level required by the IRS,
Tamar Gordon, Senator-at-Large, stated that what is missing from the summary of changes is the increase in the drug co-pay. It went from $10 for a brand name drug to $25 which is a 150% increase. Along with the addition of the $50 co-pay for an emergency room visit, she felt that these changes are not minor changes as Curtis suggested, but rather major ones. Curtis responded that the prescription drug change was changed a year ago and discussed at that time.
Bernie Fleishman, retired faculty member, pointed out that regarding the $11 million that arose, there were times when the institute put nothing into the pension fund. If the Institute stresses to its employees to plan for retirement, the institute should do the same. He added that prudent provisions for the future are to anticipate market ups and downs. Curtis responded by saying that even during years where the market was good and the actuaries stated that the Institute did not have to make contributions to the plan, they did anyway.
Ash Kapila made an observation that the change in the coverage for dependents that normally covered them to age 25 and now only covers them to 19 places a burden on the 5% of those that it affected. He stated that although Curtis mentioned in his presentation that it was a loophole, it was a benefit that people had. Now if the faculty covers the cost of their dependent’s medical coverage, it is essentially cutting their salary by $4,000. Curtis responded by stating he has a dependent that will graduate college and may not get a job and receive benefits. He felt it would not be fair to rely on the people in the room to cover the medical benefits of his dependents.
Bob Block, retired faculty, stated that recruitment and retention of faculty was emphasized but retired faculty is not. He felt that the whole package must be looked at including how well faculty will do when they retire and how well RPI retirees do compared to retirees from similar colleges. Curtis said that he is meeting with the retiree’s forum to discuss how these individuals can get the best benefit plan. He added there are only 25% of businesses and employers who offer medical benefits to retirees. President Bush has stated that if employers offer medical plans for retirees then the federal government will discuss supporting it. RPI can strengthen the medical and prescription program. It is very complex, it is not easy and it is not one size fits all. When discussing financial planning it is surprising to note that there are people not enrolled in the contribution program. A 457b program was just initiated where people can defer money. There is also a 403b program however only 25% of faculty and staff are enrolled in the program. These tools are there for individuals to get ready for retirement.
There were 208 votes received, 144 against the Core Curriculum Proposal and 64 in favor.
President Geisler noted that if any of the working groups have action items that need to be addressed, they should be brought to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
Meeting adjourned to working groups at .