U of I Fears "Brain Drain" From Pension Overhaul

Apr 21, 2014

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees have told President Robert Easter to work with other state schools and lawmakers to prevent a wave of retirements brought on by Illinois’ pension reform law.

Administrators say as many as 4,000 employees in the U of I system could lose hundreds of dollars a month in retirement benefits if they don’t retire by July 1st.

Credit illinois.edu

In a special meeting, U of I Trustees heard from a number of angry faculty members, including Chemistry and Engineering Professor Kenneth Suslick.  He says he’s forced to retire sooner than planned after 36 years on the Urbana campus:

"The state to me has demonstrated itself to be an unreliable employer, and no longer deserves my services,” Suslick said.

Easter says the problem stems from an error in the pension law involving a benefit option called the ‘money purchase formula’… and he’s working with legislative leaders to develop a fix.

“I’m optimistic that something will get done… but it needs to get done – sooner rather than later is the challenge,” Easter said.

State Sen. Daniel Biss was involved in drafting the legislation, and says the change would be simple. But some lawmakers may be uneasy about reopening the pension legislation.

U of I Trustees will also vote next month on a supplemental employee retirement plan to make up for a loss in pension funds.