Big Ten Retirees Association

Big Eleven University Retirees Association

Michigan State University, August 28, 29, 1995

Attendees: See attached sheet

Monday, August 28, 1995

Clarence Hansen, immediate past president, welcomed the delegates and introduced the local officers. Don Polin, current president. University, after giving information on absentee members and distributing the agenda, introduced Dr. Keith Groty, University Vice-president of Human Resources. After a brief history of the retirees association at MSU, he introduced the morning speakers. They were: Kris Hynes, head of benefits; Sue Lanningham, in charge of the communications area of benefits (brochures. etc.). Sherry Smalley-Van Kampen of the retirement division, and Rochelle Cummings from TIAA-CREF.

Ms. Lanningham described the health and dental plans at MSU and how and when the information about the various options are disseminated to retirees. At MSU, most employees and retirees opt for the traditional Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan but 2 HMO types are available--Blue Cross Network (Health Central) and Physician's Health Plan (PHP). These medical plans are fully paid by the University. In the area of Dental, there is the traditional Delta Dental Plan which provides 50% coverage and the Midwestern Dental Plan (MDPI) which provides variable coverage (50% to full coverage) depending upon the service provided. . With both medical and dental coverage, there is open enrollment each year over a 2 to 4 week period and the employee/retiree can switch from one plan to another during this open enrollment time. There is also a paid life insurance plan that retirees can continue to participate in and decreasing term life insurance plan. At age 70, coverage ceases. There is a possibility this will be extended to age 72. An additional benefit is the course fee courtesy program. A retiree's spouse or dependant child can earn a Bachelor's degree at 50% of tuition fees. This applies for the first Bachelor's degree, no advanced degrees. Ms. Lanningham described the interaction between benefits office and retirees. They can handle specific claim problems, have a toll-free telephone number and have had a BC/BS representative on site for this 1st year of operation which may be extended. (BC/BS has been the carrier only since July 1, 1995; the previous one was Aetna). The benefits office has meetings with retirees in other parts of the country notably Florida and Arizona. They interact via the Spartan Senior Citizen, the newsletter of the retiree organization, by providing information and up-dates. Ms. Cummings described how TIAA tries to formalize programs for those contemplating retirement. Their Financial Education Series gives workshops on campuses and at other institutions. They have 5 modules: I) Getting organized (focusing on analyzing present cash flow and assets, 2) Setting goals which narrows down to priorities and time frames, 3) Protecting Income and assets and risk management. 4) understanding investments (types, risks/rewards, appropriateness of various strategies rather than direct counseling), and 5) Planning to retire which is a pulling together of all of the above. She described other services such as small group counseling and toll-free numbers.

Psychological/sociological aspects of retirement was fielded by one of the attendees (Purdue). Ms. Hynes asked how the benefits office could better coordinate with the retirees office to help in this area.

Ms Smalley-VanKampen, the manager of the retirement division of Staff Benefits gave some history of retirement benefits at MSU. In April of '91, a cash withdrawal plan at age 55 was offered and in July '91 alternatives to TIAA became available. They are Fidelity and Vanguard mutual funds. There are restrictions within these funds. Some "select" funds can utilize only the 5% employee contribution, not the 10% university contribution.

Ms. Hynes wrapped up the presentation. The university spends $50 million on health plans only. They are currently working with local hospitals, the medical schools, and unions to work out how to be better purchasers of health care. MSU is also investigating policies for long-term care for active employees.

Howard Miller, a long time retiree gave a presentation on the non-financial benefits of retirement at MSU such as free campus parking. ID cards for library use and entrance to some facilities, comparable (to active employees) prices on major athletic events, season passes for golf, Staff Bulletin, free staff directories, free hearing screenings, annual banquet in honor of all retirees, etc.

The U of M delegates distributed and described the results of the survey and asked for suggestions on how to update it. It was suggested that a smaller survey be distributed that would update rather than have to provide complete information. A vote of thanks was given to Dr. Kaplan (U of M) for the fine job done in compiling the survey. There followed a discussion on how to get some of the member universities to participate more actively in the Big 11 University Retirees Assn.

After the lunch break, Mary Zehner of MSU gave capsule reports and introduced each committee member:

Connie McAuliffe - Committee on Committees which reviews the various committees and updates them. There are 2 new committees, Travel & Membership.

Pat Ralston - (Health Committee) handed out printed info from the Tri-County Office on Aging and names of retirees who can help in certain areas Louis Twardzik - Travel Committee which has been working this year with a local travel agent on setting up some travel programs at reasonable costs. He conducted a survey of the membership and then planned with a local agency to provide a 2-3 yr. plan. A temporary itinerary will be presented to the board and membership. We will also explore the possibilities of benefiting from travel programs at the other big 11 universities. A question was asked about the possibility of other Big 11 retirees joining with MSU in travel plans. Some thought will be given to this.

Don Gregg - newsletter. We have 2 newsletters, a national one that goes out to all retirees in the Fall, Winter and Spring. The latter two are for paid-up members only. (This is handled by a member residing in Arizona and is printed by University printing for a charge). The local one is funded by Human Resources at MSU and goes out 7 or 8 times per year and is sent to local dues paying members.

Eugene Dice - Program Committee The upcoming year, the committee plans a thematic program such as community and university-wide health benefits for retirees and speakers for each meeting would address some aspect of that topic.

John Roetman - Office Management spoke about the service corps, which no longer is a separate entity at MSU. The corps helps the university in various capacities (e.g., ushering at convocations, stuffing envelopes, etc.). The office provided by the University is manned in the AM. 5 days/week by volunteers to answer queries and there is an answering machine at unmanned times. They are building a computer base of data on retirees.

There followed discussion by the various attendees. Mr. Ed Frickey of Purdue described next year's program and facilities. The dates are 8/26 and 8/27 at Purdue University and in 1997 the meeting will be at Penn State. Dr. Kaplan (U of M) expressed interest in forming a steering committee of past, future and present hosts. Minnesota gave an update on the problems of retirees with pre1963 benefits and their efforts to help these people. There followed a discussion on poverty-level retirement pensions. This seems to be a problem at all the participating universities. Penn State indicated that they have been able to help a bit with an endowment type fund. More discussion on this follows in the next day's minutes. A tour of campus, led by Clarence Hansen, followed the close of the day's meeting.

Tuesday, August 29, 1995

The morning's program featured details on operating a retirees association.

Mary Zehner of MSU gave a treasurer's report on the last 2 years' expenses. She indicated that there were 3 options to increasing the treasury: 1) keep dues the same at $5 yearly and reduce expenses & cut services, 2) increase yearly dues, and 3) increase income by substantially increasing membership. She felt we needed to increase membership and the base of volunteers. Considerable discussion followed. OSU's Retiree Assn. has tax-free status and they have an endowment fund. Requests were made for copies of their endowment fund constitution. Minnesota 's Retiree Assn. also has an endowment fund and is non-profit. Penn State has a needy retirees fund, though they are not tax-exempt. The University holds the funds. They have no office or telephone number. Purdue has no official organization; they are an arm of the university. U of M gave information on developing an endowment fund. They have been working toward improving the retirement of "non-contributory" retirees and are exploring the creation of an endowment fund (tax-free donations) through the University. They have determined that one needs to establish a tax-exempt status 501(C3) and suggest that a lawyer be used in the process. Iowa at this time has no formal organization but Dr. Cheng has been working toward organizing one.

Mr. Ken Laubenstein, president of the MSU Federal Credit Union spoke about the program they have established for retirees called the Senior Class. They advise in certificate investment, provide free travelers' checks and even help balance check books. They also provide free meeting room. He described other close relationships with the university.

Pat Ralston described the MSU Alumni Assn. and feels that we need to do a similar marketing job for the Retirees Assn. He handed out a paper on some of the psychological/sociological aspects of retirement which had been a mutual concern of all the attendees. There ensued a discussion about the goal of the Retiree Assns. (advocacy vs educational) and to whether the mission statement was actually approved. There was a need to clarify this mission statement. The following is the mission statement from last year's meeting's minutes:

U of M indicated it has 2 non-voting positions for retirees in the Senate Assembly.

After the lunch break, 2 speakers on advocacy programs were featured. Mike Pemble of the Michigan Insurance Bureau spoke on senior programs such as Medicare, Long-term care, and other health insurance. The thrust of his talk was on Long-term care policies as Medicare has very strict guidlines for skilled nursing care only. He said the long-term care policies have greatly improved and now have home health care coverage, inflation coverage and guaranteed renewable policies. Many offer "accelerated death benefits". There was some debate as to whether these are tax-deferred. He suggested that one purchase "issue" rated rather than "attained" age rated policies and to avoid optional or conditional renewability ones. There is now a "free-look" period of 30 days for money back for those over 65. Mr. Pemble distributed several useful brochures and lists which would be valuable for those in other states as well.

The last speaker was John Peterson of the State of Michigan Department of Aging who described the Medicare Medicaid Assistance program (MMAP) which establishes programs in each of 14 regions in Michigan. He discussed public/private partnerships and the Aging Network which exists in every state. The latter was started in 1965 with the Older Americans Act.

The meeting was adjourned (informally) at 2:15 P.M.

Respectfully submitted

Ruth Polin, temporary secretary


Name Affiliation
John Roetman Michigan State
Don Polin Michigan State
Don Gregg Michigan State
Connie McAuliffe Michigan State
Gene Dice Michigan State
Pat Ralston Michigan State
Mary Zehner Michigan State
Walker Hill Michigan State
Howard Miller Michigan State
Clarence Hansen Michigan State
Ed Frickey Purdue
James Wagner Purdue
Donald Gustafson Purdue
Jack MacMillan Penn State
Jane MacMillan Penn State
Jeanne Lupton Minnesota
Frank Cheng Iowa
George Crepson Ohio State
John Mount Ohio State
Wilfred Kaplan U of M
Norma Marshall U of M
Fred Beutler U of M
Frances Sawyer U of M

Missing: Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin

4021 Wolverine Tower   Ann Arbor MI   48109