Columbia University professors say cuts to health care and retirement benefits will lead to faculty flight
May 2, 2011
At a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences last Wednesday, University President Lee Bollinger spent almost 40 minutes fielding questions about the impending cuts to faculty and staff benefits.
Since the cuts were announced last month, faculty members have reacted to them with almost uniform exasperation, saying they will lead to faculty flight and make it harder for Columbia to recruit top professors.
The substantial cuts to health care benefits, retirement plans, and college tuition benefits for employees’ children were recommended last month by a task force of professors and administrators. The University’s “fringe pool,” which employees contribute to out of their salaries and which pays for their benefits, has been losing $25 to 35 million per year, and the task force was charged with eliminating that deficit.
Classics professor Stathis Gourgouris said that everyone who questioned Bollinger at the meeting opposed the cuts.
“I have never seen A&S faculty of all ages, ranks, and persuasions so united on an issue,” he said in an email. “The unanimous demand was that the administration go back to square one and reconsider entirely the proposed cuts.”