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August 22, 2012

A message from President Seligman

Joel Seligman

Last academic year I asked a University-wide committee on resources to evaluate our employee benefits program. The committee’s work is part of broader efforts to address challenges facing academic institutions, both in the United States and abroad.

The challenges posed by current economic conditions, including the prospect of reduced health care reimbursement, decreasing federal support for research, and the nationwide focus on the costs of college, require that our University be diligent in managing expenditures.

We constantly evaluate efforts to control costs in such areas as energy and the purchase of goods and services. At the divisional level, the deans and Medical Center leadership are involved in ongoing efforts to ensure that their programs are as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

The focus over the past several years has been on protecting the University’s core. That means preserving the jobs of our talented faculty and staff.

Let me express my gratitude to the members of this committee. Cochaired by Senior Vice President Ron Paprocki and former Provost Ralph Kuncl, the committee undertook a difficult but necessary task. As you can read in this issue of Currents and in other materials that will be mailed to the homes of employees by the Office of Human Resources, I have accepted the recommendations of the committee to make modifications to the employee benefits plans, beginning in January 2013.

While some of the changes represent opportunities for us to bring specific areas of our programs into line with other aspects of our benefits packages, other recommendations, particularly involving tuition reimbursement and waiver programs for employees, represent reductions in our current benefits programs.

The committee worked hard to find ways to mitigate the impact of any change. The changes in dependent tuition benefits will not affect those whose children are already enrolled or accepted for admission for fall 2012. In addition, the tuition waiver rates for employees who take classes at the University will be based on progressive salary bands. Those who are paid at a lower rate will pay less for approved classes than those who are paid at a higher rate.

Rather than recommend that we revert to the pre–2006 dependent tuition benefit of 50 percent for employees with 10 or more years of service, the committee recommended that the University continue to pay most of the undergraduate tuition for the children of eligible employees. Based on the numbers for fall 2012, the University would pay 88 percent of tuition. That is a substantial benefit.

The committee labored to balance the need to identify savings with the desire to avoid drastic changes in our benefits programs. The committee found innovative ways to address the concerns of as many employees as possible and has produced a carefully thought-out, thoroughly researched set of recommendations.

Our University is a national leader in education, scholarship, and clinical care because of the people who choose to work here. Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our more than 20,000 employees, our University is a strong and vibrant institution.

We are dedicated to ensuring that it remains so. I am confident that the recommendations of this committee are a step toward achieving that goal.

—Joel Seligman

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