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Easter: Trustees To Discuss UI Supplemental Plan in January

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U of I President Robert Easter, Council of Academic Professionals

U of I President Robert Easter meets with the Urbana campus Council of Academic Professionals at its meeting Thursday (Jeff Bossert/WILL)

With Illinois’ pension overhaul now law, University of Illinois leaders will proceed with options to supplement for a possible loss in retirement funds.

Some faculty members are discussing a plan in which the U of I matches employee contributions.

President Robert Easter says options for filling that gap will be discussed by the university trustees at their January meeting, and one would be chosen before pension reform takes effect in June.

He said many peer institutions in the Midwest, both public and private, offer a similar program.

“Most of them have social security as a base, and then they have some sort of supplement defined contribution plan on top of that as an adjunct to social security," he said.  "We will see what works for us, and make some recommendations for the board, but ultimately it would be their decision.”

Easter says the challenge is determining cost, and that starts with understanding the impacts of pension changes on each employee, and how a supplemental plan would be handled at each salary level.

But meeting with the U of I's Council of Academic Professionals Thursday, Easter said even the supplement discussion will raise questions.

“One of our concerns, is we think about a supplement – and we start something," he said.  "Then a year from now, the rules change again.  Where are we?  All of these things, it’s kind of a series of domino effects.  One thing effects the next, effects the next and so forth.”

Easter said it’s likely the U of I will have to find ways to reduce costs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting jobs or programs.  And he said university tuition won’t go up beyond the rate of inflation.