For the second time in a year, the University Council has expressed concerns about the Optional Retirement Program, which is available mainly to faculty members.
At its first meeting of the academic year on Oct. 4, the council adopted a resolution objecting to announced cuts in the state contribution to the ORP and calling for separate administration of employer contributions to ORP and the Teachers Retirement System.
The resolution, addressed to Erroll Davis, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, and UGA President Michael F. Adams, notes that the proposed reduction in state ORP contributions represents a 1.53 percent reduction in total compensation to ORP members and could raise the retirement age for as many as 987 UGA faculty members. While the ORP contribution is being cut-for the second time in three years-the state contribution rate for TRS is being raised, the resolution says.
Faculty were not consulted and had no input on the proposed reduction, which “will directly affect the ability of UGA to recruit the best faculty,” the resolution states.
The resolution asks the Georgia General Assembly-after consultation with the board of regents-to recognize that ORP and TRS are “separate entities” because they are based on different financial models (ORP is a “defined contribution” plan and TRS is a “defined benefit” plan). Calculations relating to employer contributions for the two programs “should either be uncoupled entirely or reformulated to require equal employer contribution in both programs,” according to the resolution.
The resolution also asks that all faculty in either ORP or TRS be granted a one-time open enrollment at any significant point in their career such as when they achieve tenure or get a promotion.
The university’s Human Resources division should give new faculty members clear information about differences between ORP and TRS, and inform current ORP members about how they can increase contributions to other retirement plans such as 403(b) and 457(b) plans, the resolution says.
Last October, the University Council’s Faculty Benefits Committee expressed concerns about differences between ORP and TRS, and the council adopted a committee recommendation asking the regents to create a separate oversight committee for the ORP that would function in a similar way to a committee that monitors TRS. The Oct. 4 resolution reiterates that request.
In other action, the University Council gave final approval to a request from Staff Council for full University Council membership for eight additional staff members. Previously only the Staff Council president was a voting member of University Council, though staff members had seats on several University Council committees.
Staff Council requested the additional representation to help ensure that concerns of staff members receive close attention. Increasing staff membership requires changes in the University Statutes and the University Council Bylaws, which must be approved by the board of regents.
Susan Quinlan, chair of the university’s Honorary Degree Committee, encouraged University Council members to consider submitting nominations for honorary degrees. The committee will accept nominations until Nov. 1.