Friday, February 28, 2014

UIC SUAA President Answers Timely Questions

From Brenda Russell, UIC SUAA Chapter President: 

russell portrait small
SUAA Chapter President, Brenda Russell
I am receiving many questions from mid-career faculty and professionals about the long-term prospects at UIC. They express concerns about the pension changes along with union strike and the financial issues in the state of Illinois.  Morale is very low.  Let me cheer you up on this cold February Friday.

Should you stay at UIC?  I say YES.   I love UIC because we care about higher education, research and service in the best way possible.

Unintended consequences of pension "reform" may work in your favor!  The pension changes affect those nearing retirement most and judging from the crush on information requests about pensions to SURS my best guess is that will be many unexpected opportunities for promotion for mid-career folk.

Every place I know has strengths and weaknesses, but they differ from the devil you know to the devil you don't.

Before you consider jumping ship you should think very carefully.  Consider what matters most to you.  For most academics it is not only about money but the ability to make a difference in their chosen field, and to make the world a better place. That is the mission of UIC. Chicago is a modern, cosmopolitan city. UIC always feels to me to be ahead and living in 21st century. UIUC is in the wrong place and UIC will increasingly be the #1 choice of the top Illinois students.

At any career step you need to ask what next? What are your goals, and can UIC meet them?   Then you can look at UIC again and decide what it has to offer you.

Illinois may seem to have a gloomy financial situation but, in fact, Illinois is one of the wealthier states.  It could easily increase taxes or revenue streams just as California did.  I believe that Illinois will turn itself around and be as good as or better than most other states.

Having said all that, you should decide where you will be and what to do based on the attainable goals you are most passionate about.

It might be a tougher choice for those who are eligible and close to retirement because the new pension Law might cost you a reduction in your expected pension.  I am following it all closely and there will be probably be a few tweaks to the law this session, but I don't expect anything major to change.  Court cases are filed, but nothing in court yet.  You cannot count on a court to stop the clock by an injunction before the deadline of June 30 2014 under old law.  I expect much of this new Law to be allowed eventually, although I think we can overturn some items and be compensated for losses.  This will all take two or more years or so those retiring in that time window have a degree of uncertainty that is tough to manage.

I hope you choose UIC.

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