Faculty Benefits Committee Meeting Minutes

April 27, 2006, 9:00 – 10:30 AM, OHR

 

Present: Jean Hudgins, Dale Atkins, Bettina Cothran, Bill Ballard, Chuck Donbaugh, John Grovenstein, Michael Chang, Michael Elliott, and Blair Funderburke

Administration

Minutes from the 3/30/2006 Committee Meeting were reviewed, revised, and approved.

Old Business

·        Postdoc eligibility for ORP vs. TRS

o       OHR provided a draft memorandum from the Committee to the Provost; the memo was discussed, amended, and unanimously approved for sending to the Provost. [Follow-up note (9/8/06): the amended memo was sent to Provost Chameau on 5/25/06. On 5/26/06, however, the Provost announced that he was leaving Georgia Tech and subsequently no response was provided; the committee will resubmit the memo to the new Provost. Amended memo is attached.]

·        Wireless phone discounts

o       Following up on his previous investigations, M. Elliott reviewed the current procedures needed to secure a “state employee discount” that most wireless service providers make available to Georgia Tech employees. Elliott recommended that the process be advertised and procedures made more accessible via Techworks.

o       In the broader context, it was decided that the committee might be able to provide some helpful feedback to the Techworks administrators about the site in general in addition to this specific item on wireless discounts. The committee agreed to review Techworks in the future and schedule a meeting with the Techworks administrative team.

·        Compensation Review

o       OHR provided the Committee with the Executive Summary of the Status Report of the FY2006 Classified Compensation Program.

·         For FY2003-2006 annual merit allocation has averaged 1.8%

·         A sample of 1087 employees were compared across selected markets ranging from the Institute’s Peer Group to national, regional, and local markets for the classified employees.

·         Of the 1087 employees sampled, 405 (37%) were compensated at rates considered 10% or more below market, 549 (51%) were compensated at rates within ±10% of the market, and 133 (12%) were compensated at rates considered 10% or more above market.

·        The summary concluded that “Based on the competitive posture of the program…it is recommended that to the extent possible, particular attention be paid to those low market rates in the allocation of increases in the FY2007 merit allocation. Additionally, as any additional funds become available, they should be directed at the same conditions.”

o       OHR has a 3 year plan to make improvements in compensation across the board (subject to budget availability), but in the interim they will have to look at strategic positions and see where the need is greatest (salary shortfalls show up most prominently in the hottest jobs).

·        Ability to electronically download 403b financial information from Fidelity into Quicken financial software.

o       Fidelity is willing to allow this to occur, but needs authorization from the Board of Regents. Dorothy Roberts at the BoR communicated that the BoR denied the request but that the person that made that decision is on extended leave. The person that is replacing this person will be meeting with Fidelity in June and this topic will be on the agenda for that meeting, however.

·        Metlife Supplemental Life Insurance rollout

o       Blair noted that the Metlife Supplemental Life Insurance offering in March netted a 50% increase in employee enrollment, a 45% increase in spouse enrollment, and 95% increase in dependent children enrollment.

New Business

·        Michael Elliott

o       The Committee formally thanked Michael Elliott for his many years of service and valuable contributions to the Faculty Benefits Committee as a member and Chair.

Next Meeting

·        The Committee adjourned for the 2005-2006 AY and will reconvene Fall Semester 2006.


 

Memorandum

Date: 5/25/2006

To: Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Cc: Faculty Benefits Committee (Dale Atkins, Bill Ballard, Bettina Cothran, Chuck Donbaugh, Michael Elliot, John Grovenstein, Jean Hudgins, Eric Southard)

From: Michael E. Chang, Chair Faculty Benefits Committee

RE: Recommendation to classify Postdoctoral Fellows as members of the General Faculty

At its 27 April 2006 meeting, the Faculty Benefits Committee unanimously voted to recommend that Post Doctoral Fellows be granted General Faculty status.  As members of the General Faculty, postdocs would be eligible to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), which offers immediate vesting.  In contrast, the current classification of postdocs as staff employees requires their placement into the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS), which has a ten year vesting requirement.  Rarely do postdocs remain employed for the required ten year TRS vesting period.  Thus, the Institute is not providing an effective retirement plan for this group of valued employees – and this is the motivation for this recommendation.

In examining this issue, the Committee noted that the employer match for the ORP is currently 9.66% and that the employer match for the TRS is 9.24%. Considering the number of postdocs at Georgia Tech (204 as of February 2006), this difference in cost to the Institute was considered to be minimal. An additional financial concern regards the accrual of vacation time – 14 hours per month for General Faculty, versus 10 hours per month for staff employees. This increase in vacation time is notable, however, the Committee considered postdocs warranted equal treatment with the General Faculty due to the nature of their contributions to the Institute and their strong “peer-like” relationships with the Academic, Research, and General Faculty.

The Committee further considered the impact of postdocs on faculty governance. If postdocs were granted General Faculty status, as a group they would constitute only 8% of the governing population (204 postdocs, 1074 instructional faculty, 985 research faculty, and 292 general faculty). Seeing that the inclusion of postdocs would not lead to any imbalances, the Committee considered participation by the postdoc community in faculty governance to be a benefit. The Committee also found that all other University System of Georgia Research Units grant postdocs General Faculty Status. Based on this, and without verifying the status of postdocs at other peer institutions outside of the USG, the Committee believes Georgia Tech could be at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting postdocs, as the inability to effectively use the retirement benefit equates to a nearly 10% decrease in compensation.

Finally, it should be noted that should postdocs be granted General Faculty membership, the change in retirement plan eligibility would only apply to newly hired employees. Short of terminating an employee and removing them from the employee roll for three months or more, there is no way to switch an employee from the TRS to the ORP. This is unfortunate for the current postdocs already here at Georgia Tech, given the transient nature of the position, however, this will be resolved as the postdoc community turns over in the next 2 to 5 years.

The Faculty Benefits Committee respectfully submits this recommendation to you, the Provost, for further consideration and next steps.