May 22, 2012

Members of the University of Illinois community,

It is likely that this will be an eventful week for the Illinois General Assembly as it pushes toward adjournment and addresses a number of key issues, including legislation aimed at stabilizing the state's underfunded public pension systems.

Legislative staffs have been working to draft a bill during the past week since President Michael Hogan and I last communicated with you on this subject. The situation in Springfield is fluid as the May 31 deadline to end the spring session approaches. Specific details of a pension stabilization plan have not been introduced.

University of Illinois leaders have been advocating strongly on behalf of our employees regarding pensions and other issues. I traveled to Springfield twice last week to meet personally with House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, and key members of their staffs. Dr. Avijit Ghosh, special assistant to the president who has been on-point for the U of I on the pension issue, and our governmental relations staff are at the capitol and in constant contact with legislative staffers.

Our  team has reiterated that an acceptable pension stabilization plan should follow principles and objectives such as:  fair and equitable distribution of the pension obligation; an adequate time period to transition to a new system so that employees and the University can plan; future financial sustainability for all parties involved; flexibility to provide a credible promise of retirement security for employees, and to provide universities with the ability to recruit and retain staff and faculty.

The foundation of the University's excellence is its people, their skills and talents. This priority is reflected in our daily interactions with the state legislature. As events unfold in Springfield, we will provide updates.

Robert A. Easter, President-designate


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