University of Kentucky leaders tweaked the school's benefits plan Tuesday in an effort to save $5 million over five years.
Employees hired after Jan. 1 won't receive matching retirement contributions from the university unless they work at least five years, according to a new policy approved by UK's board of trustees.
Currently, employees are vested from the first day of employment and can keep the university's contributions whenever they leave their jobs.
UK will continue to double its employees' contributions to retirement plans. That means if a full-time employee puts 5 percent of his or her base salary into the retirement plan, UK will kick in an amount equal to 10 percent of the person's salary.
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"This is not a takeaway," said Frank Butler, executive vice president of finance and administration. "All they have to do is stay and they get the benefits."
Still, Butler said, the change should save the university more than $5 million during the first five years as employees come and go. Those savings could help provide raises for staff and faculty, who haven't received pay increases for the last two years, he said.
Two of the trustees — faculty member Ernest J. Yanarella and Robynn M. Pease, the staff representative — voted against the proposal because they wanted the policy to explicitly earmark the savings for faculty and staff salaries.
They also said they were concerned about an overall downward trend in benefits at UK.
"There is fear. There is anxiety. There is insecurity that there will be a whittling away of benefits," Pease said.
Mira Ball, chairwoman of the board, said she trusts that UK administrators will keep their word and use the savings to bolster salaries.
Also Tuesday, the board tweaked the formula for evaluating UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. That evaluation is used to calculate Todd's annual bonus. He turned down this year's bonus of $168,000.
For the 10 goals the board set for Todd in the 2009-10 academic year, the trustees added emphasis to their charge to "provide strong oversight and management of university financials."
That goal will be worth 12 percent of Todd's bonus calculation, instead of the original 10 percent. The institutional goal of providing oversight of athletics — including avoiding any major NCAA violations — will now be worth 8 percent. The other eight goals are worth 10 percent each.
Ball also appointed two trustees — Edward Britt Brockman, a Louisville eye doctor, and Sandy Bugie Patterson, a Fort Thomas businesswoman — to study Todd's compensation during the next year, including gathering information about how his salary compares to SEC school presidents and benchmark institutions.
Several trustees said at their September meeting, where Todd turned down his bonus, that they would like to reassess whether Todd's $304,000 base salary plus the $50,000 he receives as head of the UK Athletics Association is appropriate.
Earlier Tuesday, several trustees expressed concern that a sex toy company, Pure Romance, was a major sponsor of "Sex Week at UK" earlier this month.
While no policies were broken, Barret Gargala, a student coordinator of the series of educational events, lectures and activities, said organizers would seek more diverse sponsorships and speakers in the future.