Faculty Benefits Committee Meeting

Minutes, April 14, 2004

3:30 – 5:00


The following committee members were present: Michael Chang, Chuck Donbaugh, Michael Elliott, Blair Funderburk, Marc Goetschalckx, John Grovenstein, Jean Hudgin, and Gayle Warren.

Disability Insurance

It has been several years since the Benefits Committee recommended and the Faculty Senate and President approved a change in disability insurance policy. This new policy would enable 9-month academic faculty to base their disability insurance on the number of months worked the previous year rather than defaulting to 9 months of coverage. Thus, an academic faculty who works in the summer could purchase disability insurance based on a 12-month salary rather than the 9-month academic salary. To implement this policy, Human Resources needs to link the disability insurance to the number of months worked the previous year. However, PeopleSoft does not allow for conditional if-then statements, and there is currently no mechanism for implementing the change in policy. Human Resources is now installing the latest update to the software and hope to implement this policy by January 1. Chuck agreed to request that OIT program this capability into PeopleSoft.

Vision Benefits

The Benefits Committee discussed the relative costs and benefits of vision insurance. By examining the cost of the insurance and copays and comparing these to the economic benefits of services and products provided, the committee determined that

§         net benefits for many employees is likely to be small but positive;

§         net benefits increase if an employee or family member use both eyeglasses and contacts, or multiple forms of eyeglasses; and

§         net benefits to employees that do not currently use a Medical Care Spending Account (to pay for health costs using pre-tax dollars) would also be more significant, since the Vision Plan would be paid for with pre-tax dollars.

Based on these findings, the Benefits Committee recommended that Human Resources initiate a Vision Plan for Georgia Tech starting with the Fall Open Enrollment.

Partner Benefits

The Benefits Committee continued its review of partner benefits. Based on an evaluation of benefits provided by Georgia Tech directly, the Committee has determined that Georgia Tech currently provides all the benefits it can as a unit of the Board of Regents under the current laws of Georgia and policies of the Board of Regents.

The Committee has also been considering a specific request made by two faculty members to present a resolution to the Board of Regents to strengthen its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and to expand the provision of benefits (including medical) to domestic partners throughout the University System. The faculty requested that the Benefits Committee review a proposed resolution to this effect (modeled on one passed by the Faculty at the University of Georgia) and to forward the proposed resolution to the Georgia Tech Faculty Senate for their consideration.

The Benefits Committee  reviewed the domestic partner policies of 25 peer institutions[1].

§         Of the 8 private schools in the group, all offered domestic partner medical benefits to same-sex couples, while only 25% offered these benefits to opposite-sex couples.

§         Of the 17 public schools, 59% offered benefits to same-sex couples and 12% to opposite-sex couples.

§         The issuance of medical benefits to same-sex domestic partners is distinctly regional. 9 of 11 state universities located outside the south offer these benefits, while none of the 6 southeast and south central state schools offer such benefits.

Given the current political, policy and budget climate in Georgia, the Benefits Committee has determined that this would not be an opportune time to move on this petition, and has voted to not forward the proposed resolution to the Georgia Tech Senate at this time.

Sabbaticals and Long Term Care

Between now and our next meeting, Gayle Warren will contact Chuck Duffy concerning issues of how sabbaticals might be financed, with particular focus on the use of a higher overhead rate for academic faculty to cover the cost of sabbatical benefits.

If the Committee decides to endorse the addition of a long term care plan, this plan will not be rolled out during the Fall Open Enrollment Period. Given its complexity, the Committee believes that the policy should be rolled out during the spring, when employees can focus on its particular characteristics. The Committee and Human Resources will continue to work through issues associated with long term care at the next meeting and in the fall.

Next Meeting

The final meeting will be at 3:30-5:00 on April 28.

[1] Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell (private & public sides), Duke, Iowa State, John Hopkins, MIT, NC State, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers, Stanford, Texas A&M, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, U of Florida, U of Illinois, U of Michigan, U of Minnesota, U of Texas Austin, U of Washington, U of Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech.