IBHE rejects retirement plan proposal

By Eric Krol

The state’s higher education governing board has rejected a proposal which would attempt to modify the state’s controversial early retirement plan.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), meeting Tuesday in Chicago, voted against a recommendation that suggests offering a temporary incentive to senior state faculty. Under the proposal, faculty would have been eligible to receive two years of service credit toward early retirement.

Deb Smitley, IBHE associate director of public affairs, said the board members voted against the resolution because they were concerned about the different benefits higher education employees would receive under the plan.

Some board members said they felt the plan went too far, while others said the plan did not go far enough, Smitley said. If the plan had been recommended, 8,233 individuals would have been eligible to participate.

The IBHE was concerned about the current $3 billion funding gap in the state’s early retirement system, she said. Any plan the IBHE would consider endorsing would have to be mindful of the underfunding issue.

The IBHE also reacted to a report which revealed that incoming freshmen lack basic skills necessary to succeed at college.

The IBHE staff report showed that even though many students had three years of math in high school, they still needed remedial help once they hit college.

The IBHE also met as a committee-of-the-whole for about 45 minutes after the regular portion of the meeting ended.

The board began discussion of priorities in higher education and heard testimony from each of the university systems on how schools are reallocating and prioritizing from within, she said.

The board is looking at reprioritization as a result of last October’s request by IBHE Chairman Arthur Quern to find ways to get the most out of stagnant state money. The IBHE will continue the discussion at its next meeting in May.