Academic Senate Forum
Retirement Options Task Force Report to the President
The Systemwide Academic Senate has requested that each campus conduct a formal consultation regarding the retirement options recommendations provided by the UC Retirement Options Taskforce Committee appointed by President Napolitano. The retirement options will begin for employees hired after July 1, 2016 and will apply to Academic Senate, Academic Federation, and Staff members. Based on feedback received systemwide, President Napolitano will make recommendations which will be presented to the Regents of the University of California in March.
The Academic Senate will be reviewing and considering comments through Monday, February 8 for the Davis Divisional response. The Academic Senate Committee on Faculty Welfare will take the lead on the Davis Division response and will include the overall consensus of the entire Divisional Academic Senate, Academic Federation and Davis campus community.
For additional opportunities to participate in discussions and get additional information, we encourage you to attend one of the following town hall meetings scheduled for faculty on :
Monday, January 25 10:00am-12:00pm
UCD Medical Center in Sacramento
Center for Health and Technology
Lecture Hall 1341
Thursday, January 28 10:00am-12:00pm
UCD Main Campus
 Anyone who is part of represented by a union should speak with their union officials on whether it is appropriate for them to attend. This meeting is in no way intended to replace or supplant the any rights of unions as an exclusive representative of their members.
This forum closed on 2/3/2016 at 5:00 PM.
I am a new faculty member who joined UC Davis in 2014. I chose to come to UC Davis because of many factors, including the excellent base salary and benefits. I had several other excellent offers, including offers from ivy league institutions. I would not have chosen to come to UC Davis had the university not offered competitive salary and benefits, including the pension plan. My case illustrates firsthand that UC Davis competes with other top universities to attract and retain faculty. Because of this, I am strongly opposed to the proposed changes to the pension benefits and I am very concerned about how the proposed changes would negatively impact the ability of UC schools to recruit and retain top quality faculty and staff in the future. I am also disappointed in the fact that these proposed changes are happening with little transparency, and with little time for faculty to provide input.
I strongly oppose the change in retirement options. This will further erode our competitiveness for recruiting and retaining faculty.
I was recently hired by UC Davis and the UC retirement plan was definitely a big factor when deciding between UC and other lucrative offers, several with higher starting salaries. It is also a long-term incentive to stay within the UC system, and something I was counting on for decades to come. I am disappointed that the UC system is changing the retirement benefits so soon after I have joined the community, and worry about the future stability of both my own career at UC, as well as the ability to recruit and retain top intellectual talent.
I see no redeeming features to these retirement recommendations and justification for such changes is at best weak. As a de facto salary cut for incoming faculty vis-à-vis existing faculty, these “options” can only negatively impact the quality of future UC faculty and our ability to realize our mission. Already, faculty recruitment cannot keep up with increased enrollment, we are struggling to meet gender and URM balance and our best faculty are readily enticed to other institutions. These issues will be severely exacerbated if the proposed changes are adopted. I strongly urge the Davis Division to reject these recommendations outright.
I am very disappointed in the proposed change to the pension plan. I recently chose to come to UC Davis over other very good offers, and the UC pension plan was a significant consideration. Furthermore, and perhaps more significantly, I see the UC pension plan as a very strong incentive to stay at UC Davis throughout my career. I believe that the proposed changes will make it more difficult to hire the best new faculty, but even worse will be the effect on our ability to retain our best faculty.
I DO NOT approve!!! Pages 44 and 45 show a significantly reduced retirement income for new employees! Any move to a defined contribution plan is simply not wise!! Defined contribution was rejected by the academic senate for employees hired from 2013 onward for good reasons. Primarily the risk is much lower for defined benefit. Even the proposed defined benefit + defined contribution plan falls short by about 30% of the 2013 plan. This plan seems like short-sighted thinking any way you look at it!
As the report of the Retirement Options Task Force demonstrates, the Task Force recommendations, if adopted, would be harmful to future employees and to the quality of the University. The Task Force chose to accept the constraints that were placed upon it by the President. Those constraints were largely the result of the Committee of Two negotiations between President Napolitano and the Governor, which led directly to the structure of the deal being offered to the University in the budget bill. It is now evident that the status quo is better for the University than the terms of the deal. It is also the case that Committee of Two negotiations were a serious violation of shared governance. The Task Force Report provides no rationale for its assumption that the University accept the harmful terms of the deal. For these reasons, I recommend that the Academic Senate reject the Task Force recommendations and support maintaining the status quo.
UC and our campus in particular are trying to increase the representation of women and minorities in our faculty. These faculty would be hired under the 2016 tier, which has significantly reduced benefits over the 2013 tier. As a result, their total remuneration would be significantly lower on average than that of their male/white counterparts, unless they receive larger salaries to compensate for reduced benefits. Therefore, the new pension plan could significantly worsen inequities.
I have to express my grave concerns about the proposed changes in the UC pension plan. One key reason why UC has become a world renowned institution is because it has been able to hire and retain faculty and staff. One key reason of been able to retain faculty and staff is because of UC pension plan. As chair of a large department (>70 faculty, >600 people on the pay roll), numerous times over the past 14 years I was informed by faculty that they had plans to leave. However when they looked at all the pros and cons of accepting a position elsewhere, it was the UC pension plan that kept them at UC. If the UC defined benefit pension plan moves toward a defined contribution plan, the ‘golden handcuffs’ situation will break down and I predict an sharp increase in faculty turn-over, in particular of faculty members who are heavily courted by other institutions. UC faculty salary has not kept up with the salaries offered at other peer institutions but our pension plan stands out as one of the most attractive one. A loss of the UC pension as we know of it today will not only be a loss for faculty and staff but become a loss to the entire UC system, the state of California and all the students as UC will lose it competitiveness in attracting and retaining the best.
Please do not implement these retirement changes. Although I am part of a bargaining unit (CNA), it would very complicated to have different retirements for different staff. We need to keep the retirement fund strong. Many times new staff who are first getting a job do not have the wisdom and perspective to think about retirement issues when they are first hired. Our pension is a great asset that helps with recruitment and retainment of stellar staff. All staff are part of the UC team and deserve a dignified retirement. Please consider if you would want these new changes forced upon you and follow the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Thank you for your consideration.
I am deeply concerned that the proposed changes will diminish our ability to attract the best new faculty. UC salaries are well below those of most of our competitors, but up to now I have been able to argue to potential recruits that our benefits package at least partially compensates. In particular, the stability of a defined benefits package is very attractive to many people who do not enjoy having their retirement income dependent on the vicissitudes of the stock market. I am also concerned about the effect of a two-tier system on faculty morale and cohesiveness. How are our departments going to deal with the consequences of a situation in which older faculty have what is clearly a better benefits package than younger ones?
I am strongly opposed to the proposed change in the University Retirement Program. I believe the current UCRP program is a fundamental aspect of the academic quality that the UC System has sustained for many decades and, thus, if it is largely removed, the university is likely to suffer a significant long-term decline. I will try to explain this dire forecast. Our remuneration is generally thought to consist of two parts, salary and retirement (plus other important, but smaller benefits). Recent studies have suggested that our retirement benefits may be slightly greater than those of some of our comparison universities, while our salaries are significantly lower than those of the same. One argument has been that we should reduce the retirement benefits and increase salaries, but I note there is no proposal being put forward which would do this. Thus, if retirement benefits are reduced, our total remuneration will decline to levels that are markedly lower than our comparison institutions. I doubt that our salaries will be significantly raised subsequently as the political forces seem opposed to providing state funds to support higher salaries. The state has not funded our retirement, so basically we are being told to reduce our retirement benefits to free up additional funding for the university so that it can educate additional students and/or do with still fewer funds from the state. Although this situation seems dire, I have a greater concern. The traditional retirement program offered two important benefits to the university, other than the retirement payments to its faculty. First, it provided an anchor that retained many excellent faculty who saw that other universities could not attract them with higher salaries because they stood to lose enormous retirement benefits. Perhaps that is not a benefit for faculty, but it was a benefit for the UC system that helped us, as a university, withstand periods of budget stringency when many might otherwise have been tempted to leave. Second, UCRP was structured so that each of us had incentive to continue being as productive as possible for as long as we remained in the university because our retirement income was tied to our highest three year average salary, which generally occurred at the end of our careers. Certainly our merit and promotion process helps achieve the same, but I believe the incentive of the UCRP structure was also an important factor as well. I fear we will lose all of these. I cannot understand how it is that the President seems to have made the decision to change the retirement system unilaterally, or how the Regents could approve the same. Something is amiss. Equally amiss, we are all standing around and doing nothing. It must be that I am misunderstanding the situation. I hope so.
It would be nice if the pension plan was optional. I think most of the modern workforce would rather have a 403(b) match. Forced pension contributions, especially into plans that do not have an inactive COLA, (such as the 2013 tier), are highly unattractive, since they are essentially an interest-free loan to the university. For example, if someone joins the university at the age of 25 and leaves at the age of 35, cashing out would be the only reasonable option, since their calculated monthly pension amount would be frozen, and therefore drastically depleted by inflation, until they retire. But even the cash-out option is poor, since most people would rather have invested their contributions into a 403(b), where it could have grown. So although the goal of forced pensions is to reduce attrition, what they really do is detract qualified talent.