University News

Faculty votes unanimously for improved benefits

The University has lagged behind peers in providing retirement and tuition assistance for faculty

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brown faculty members may see increased tuition assistance and retirement benefits, as the faculty endorsed a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Employee Benefits at its meeting Tuesday night.

Faculty members all voted in favor of the report, with no abstentions.

One of the report’s major recommendations was an increase in the Tuition Aid Program benefit, which provides tuition assistance to faculty and staff members’ children who attend the University as undergraduates, said Harold Roth, professor of religious studies, who presented the report to the faculty.

“Brown’s tuition benefit for employees’ children attending Brown is not competitive with those of our peers,” including those that have comparable endowments, Roth said. The report recommends raising Brown’s tuition benefit “to a level minimally competitive with our peers,” from 24 percent of tuition to 36 percent, Roth said. The increase would cost the University a little over $2 million annually, he said.

One faculty member expressed concern that 36 percent was not an ambitious enough goal, since the mean  percentage among the University’s peer institutions is 37 percent. “If we’re trying to stay competitive, wouldn’t we want to at least go toward the middle of the pack? It should be a long-range goal to be competitive in the mid-range of our peers,” he said.

Roth said the committee would accept the faculty member’s criticism “as a friendly amendment to the report.”

Besides a hike in the tuition benefit, the report also proposed changes to faculty retirement benefits. One proposal recommended the creation of a center for emeritus faculty members, which would be modeled after the Koerner Center at Yale. The report also suggested expanding the current Phased Retirement Option — which gradually reduces workload and pay until a faculty member retires —  from three to five years and establishing a savings account to help faculty members save for health care in retirement.

“Hopefully the report will guarantee that faculty and staff have a voice,” Roth said. “This will also benefit the University because when employees feel their voice is being heard, they are more likely to buy in” to the University’s initiatives, he said.

Following Roth’s presentation, Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 announced the formation of search committees to replace key administrators who are stepping down at the end of this academic year. Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences, Clyde Briant, vice president for research, Stephen Lassonde, deputy dean of the college and Michael Pickett, chief information officer for computing and information services, are among those the search committees will seek to replace, Schlissel said.

Schlissel also said the Academic Priorities Committee has been sifting through 82 proposals from faculty members for future University Signature Academic Initiatives.

The proposals have a significant degree of overlap, so the committee will “work on shaping the proposals into clusters” and encourage collaboration among faculty members who submitted similar proposals, Schlissel said.

President Christina Paxson announced changes to this year’s Commencement. This year, faculty members will sit “up front, looking out, instead of in the audience” and will be presented with teaching awards, Paxson said.


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