Faculty Benefits Committee Meeting

Minutes, March 24, 2004

4:00 – 5:30


The following committee members were present: Dale Atkins, Michael Chang, Chuck Donbaugh, Michael Elliott, Blair Funderburk, Marc Goetschalckx, John Grovenstein, Gary Wallawick (Legal Affairs) and Gayle Warren.


Sabbaticals currently fall under Regents and Georgia Tech Paid and Unpaid Leave Policy. The Regents policy is permissive, but requires review of each leave. In general, the policy states:

§         leaves, with or without pay, are granted by the president of the institution with approval by the Chancellor of the Board of Regents (although generally the president approves leaves of less than year in-house, while longer leaves require Regents approval),

§         leaves may be provided only for purposes of promoting scholarly work and encouraging professional development,

§         the president may refuse leaves if the employee’s job cannot be handled by other employees and if funds are not available to replace the employee, and

§         leaves should be granted only to those holding at least a masters degree and who have worked at the institution for at least 3 years.

The policy is therefore permissive, but provides no entitlement to a sabbatical leave as-of-right. Moreover, the funding for leaves must be generated by Tech or the researcher and is not provided for by the state.

Under existing policy, sabbaticals could not be granted as of right, but professional leaves could be made more systematic. A sabbatical policy would therefore require Tech to develop a system for financing sabbaticals and a set of criteria promulgated by the President that would govern his approval of sabbaticals.

To Do:

§         talk to Duane Hutchison re sabbatical funds

§         funding options

o       a sabbatical system that provided an entitlement might need to cover as many as 1/7th of the faculty

o       how do Fulbrights work?

§         other peer college policies and funding systems, including approval process

§         eventually, we would need to model the cost based on a set of potential policies

§         talk to Sandy Bramblett concerning demographics on the faculty

Vision Benefits

43% of US employers offer a vision plan. These are usually 100% voluntary, but some include employer participation.

Georgia Tech does not offer a vision plan, except in as much as health care policies have limited vision benefits imbedded in them. These benefits primarily provide discounts or cover exams only.

Approximately 60% of Americans require some form of vision correction, while 1/6th of children 3-16 wear eyeglasses. Retail prices for eyewear is generally 3 to 5 times as expensive as wholesale.

Most vision plans allow for a standard exam, frames, lenses and contacts once every 12 or 24 months. The most common limitations are one every 12 months for each of these except frames, which are once every 24 months. Members can get either glasses or contacts, but not both in one year. Co-pays exist, generally $10 for exams, $15-$20 for frames and lenses, and $0-$25 for contacts. Vision plan carriers generally focus on either chain stores (e.g., Walmart) or private doctors (OD/MD) with nationwide networks. Lenses covered include single, bifocal and trifocal, with discounts provided for  progressive lenses, add-on coatings, tints and UV protection.

The Benefits Committee looked at a comparison of group vision plans that might be offered at Tech. The plan benefits and costs seem quite similar (about$85/year for an employee and $250/year for a family). The biggest difference is that Spectera includes both private providers and access to retail chains, while VSP and CompBenefits rely solely on private providers.

The Benefits Committee generally recognized that most employees could use vision coverage, but questioned whether it really saves much money, especially since most of the health plans already cover exams. Blair will cost out lenses and frames for discussion at the next meeting.

Next Meeting

The two final meetings will be at 3:30-5:00 on April 14 and April 28. We will focus on finalizing the vision plan decision, and bring some closure to the long term health care, partner benefits, and sabbatical discussions.