Betsy Rodriguez, UM System vice president of human resources, opened the second half of today’s Board of Curators meeting by presenting benefits packages from some Big 12 and Big 10 universities.
The UM System is the only institution in the Big 12 to offer only a direct benefits plan. Seven out 15 schools Rodriguez studied offer a choice between direct contributions and pension-based plans.
Universities with defined benefits do not control the plan’s features, according to Rodriguez’s findings. Instead the state controls the features, as MOSERS would if UM outsourced its benefits to the state agency.
Rodriguez said she is keeping in mind that no single plan from UM’s peer institutions is the best fit for all employees, nor is there one that meets all the objectives. UM’s goal, Rodriguez said, is to forge a plan that can meet the needs of both higher-and lower-paid employees.
Rodriguez’s presentation went on to address UM faculty and staff concerns, based on town hall meetings she has held at the system’s four campus during the past two months.
Among the communication challenges Rodriguez listed is the widespread belief that UM administrators have made a decision about a new plan and haven’t been transparent. Rodriguez stressed that the school is working to build trust through transparency and honesty.
From the administrative end, the UM Retirement and Staff Benefits Committee is concerned that a direct contribution plan would not provide enough retirement income and would harm lower-income employees.
For now, there is no explicit solution.
These and other concerns have arisen from town hall meetings, which UM President Gary Forsee earlier today announced will continue Tuesday as part of a two-week tour of the system’s four campuses.