Faculty Senate’s Benefits Advisory Committee Chair Roger Laine, Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope and others are taking action to increase faculty awareness, participation and engagement about the University’s comparatively poor retirement benefits.
About 70 percent of the University’s faculty is on the Optional Retirement Plan, or ORP. The state-paid benefits for faculty members are some of the lowest retirement benefits among universities in the nation, according to Laine.
The problem is worsened because LSU faculty do not receive Social Security benefits, something many universities in the Southeastern Conference give.
Starting July 1, LSU faculty on the ORP plan will receive 5.19 percent in retirement benefits. In 2012, that number was 5.97 percent.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Stuart Bell said the University is concerned with “any issues that may impact the retention of our existing faculty and our ability to be nationally competitive in recruitment of new faculty.”
“Employee benefits that are competitive with peer institutions are certainly critical for our current and prospective faculty members,” Bell said.
A 5.19 percent benefit plan means 5.19 percent is the annual amount put in a faculty member’s retirement account, Laine said.
Comparably, the University of Georgia contributes 6.2 percent to Social Security and adds another 11 percent of state benefits, totaling a 17.2 percent of salary retirement package — more than three times the retirement benefits for LSU faculty, Laine said.
He said the LSU ORP faculty benefits paid by the state have dropped 25 percent since 2009, when they were 6.95 percent.
Cope said retirement services help recruit faculty who are thinking about the future and provide a reward and retention for those who are here.
“In both cases, LSU is far, far behind any other school in the SEC,” Cope said. “Once again, LSU has fallen atrociously far behind in a very important index … We don’t see any pressure coming from the LSU System to help with this situation.”
Laine said most of the faculty don’t know the benefits have been cut.
“The bottom line is that people who come here as faculty have a much, much lower retirement benefit than they do at other institutions. … This extremely low retirement benefit is a substantial impediment to recruitment and retention of high quality faculty,” Laine said. “LSU would need to offer at least a 10 percent increase in salary over any offer from Georgia to make up for the pecuniary Louisiana state retirement benefit.”