The University Record, May 24, 1993

Committee appointed to study flexible benefits options

A Universitywide advisory committee has begun working with University groups and external consultants to study, plan, design and recommend a flexible benefits program.

The Flexible Benefits Advisory Committee (FBAC) is co-chaired by David J. Anderson, professor of electrical and computer engineering and chair of the Advisory Committee on University Budgets (ACUB), and Chandler W. Matthews, associate vice president for finance.

Other members: John E. Tropman, professor of social work and chair of the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty; Dorothy K. Russell, vice chancellor for administration at the U-M-Flint; Robert G. Behrens, vice chancellor for business affairs at the U-M-Dearborn; James E. Christenson, director of Plant Operations; Robert S. Holbrook, professor of economics and associate vice president for academic affairs; Alan W. Steiss, director of the Division of Research Development and Administration; and Laurita Thomas, human resources administrator and assistant director at U-M Hospitals.

In appointing the FBAC, Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. and Vice President Farris W. Womack noted that the ACUB, after reviewing U-M staff benefit programs, had recommended that the University undertake “a process of study and consultation for the possible implementation of a flexible benefits program.”

One of the first actions in that process, Whitaker and Womack said, is to establish the FBAC. “This committee is charged with the oversight of the design and communication of a flexible benefits program for all active, regular University faculty and staff who are not represented by bargaining groups.”

The proposed action is driven by a number of important reasons, they said, but “essentially, our main objective is to give plan participants the opportunity to apply University and personal resources to the purchase of or the use of the most effective benefits for their particular needs. It is our expectation that a proper structure, with enlightened decisions by participants, would tend to dampen the rate of increase of University benefit costs.”

The U-M has selected Towers Perrin, a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations convert to flexible plans, to work with the FBAC.

Some 20 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have converted to flexible benefits plans.