University Senate                                                                     

Proposed:  February 11, 2011

Adopted: February 11, 2011 without dissent



WHEREAS      fringe benefits play a crucial role in the lives of university officers, both in their overall compensation and as a support for their quality of life, and

WHEREAS      severe cost pressures have led to an effort at Columbia (as at other universities) to consider important changes to its benefits programs, and

WHEREAS      these choices involve consequential risks for the growth and competitive standing of Columbia University, and

WHEREAS      the University Senate has the authority, both from its mandate in the University Statutes and by precedent, to participate in the making of new policies for fringe benefits, as with other University policies, and

WHEREAS      the Provost has convened an advisory group to recommend new fringe benefits policies;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED       that the University Senate affirm the following principles to guide the Provost’s advisory group in its search for changes in Columbia’s fringe benefits program:

--that major recommendations for changes should honor expectations that have been established over the course of the careers of current officers, and should assure grandfathering of essential health, tuition, and retirement benefits to the maximum extent possible;

--that additional cost burdens should be socialized to the maximum extent possible, through the fringe pool and the budgets of Columbia’s academic and administrative units;

--that for additional costs to be borne by individual officers, the University should apply a principle of progressivity, so that the lightest burden will fall on those least able to pay—either because of lower salaries or onerous medical or educational expenses—and the heaviest burden will fall on those most able to pay;

--that the University should assure maximum access for all full-time officers, going forward, to all benefits supported through the fringe pool;

--that any necessary reductions in benefits be exacted from new officers, over a period of time whenever possible, to avoid precipitous drop-offs between the benefits packages of current and future officers;

--that, as current deliberations about new benefits policies will draw upon a wider circle of advice, they include those who have been designated by the University Statutes as representatives of Columbia’s academic constituencies in the University Senate.

Proponent: Faculty Affairs Committee