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Retirement, Parking and Child Care Among Issues
Staff Discuss with Chancellor at Town Hall Meeting

By Ioana Patringenaru | June 23, 2006

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox held a town hall meeting with staff members on June 22 at Eucalyptus Point.
You can view a video of the 80-minute session (Real Player required — download the free Basic player here.).

Almost 300 staff members packed a town hall meeting with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox Thursday to talk about retirement, parking, child care and many other issues.

“I’m so pleased to see so many of you here,” Fox told her audience.

“The staff are, of course, the key people for keeping this institution running,” she later added.

The standing-room-only meeting was the last of three town halls Chancellor Fox held in the past two months. The first two allowed students and faculty to talk about their concerns. Thursday’s meeting was dedicated to staff members.

“This is our opportunity to share with Chancellor Fox our views, our opinions, what matters to us,” said Ken Tomory, chair of UCSD’s Staff Association.

After talking briefly about student enrollment, retirement and other issues, Chancellor Fox took questions from the audience.

You can view a video of the 80-minute session
(Real Player required —
download the free Basic player here.).

Joyce Yates, a nurse at the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, was one of the first to step up to the microphone. She questioned the need to reinstate retirement contributions while UC’s retirement plan is still solvent. UC employees also have lower salaries than others in the state, Yates said.

“Step forward on our behalf and make it right,” Yates asked the Chancellor.

UC Regents have said they plan to ask employees to begin contributing again to one of their retirement plans in July 2007. For now, the UC Retirement Plan is solvent, but that won’t be the case in a few years, Fox said. So, contributions will be necessary to keep pensions intact. The hope is that raises offset contributions so that take-home pay won’t be cut, she said. The question now is whether to restart contributions at a low level early on, rather than at a high level later on, she said. 

“We’re a community, we’re in this together,” Fox said. “I think what we all want to do is use the resources of the university in the best possible way.” 

Close to 300 staff members attended the June 22 town hall meeting

A study has show that salaries for UC employees are about 15 percent below market level, Fox said.

“You are underpaid, absolutely you are underpaid,” she said. “I’m trying my best to do something about it.”

But UC benefits are slightly above average, Fox also said.

Parking also was on the minds of several staff members. Fees are too high, said Jorge Olvera, groundskeeper and 20-year UCSD veteran.

“It’s either buying a gallon of milk for my kids or buying a parking permit for the day,” he said.

Part of the problem is that UC doesn’t allow the university to subsidize parking, Chancellor Fox said. The cost for building parking structures is prohibitive, at $22,000 per spot, said Brian d’Autremont, director of Transportation and Parking Services. The solution, he added, is to offer carpools and vanpools as well as access to public transportation, such as buses and the Coaster. On average, vanpooling saves about $4,000 a year per person, according to the San Diego Association of Governments, he said.

Chancellor Fox also fielded questions about child care. Bari Weick, a financial and human resources manager at the Institute on Global Conflict & Cooperation, said he was concerned about the future of the International Center Cooperative Nursery School. Closing the school would mean losing up to 51 child care spots on campus, he said.

“If ICNS closes during your tenure, you’ll see a huge decrease in available child care spaces,” Weick said.

Fox said her understanding was that the school would remain in its current location for 18 months. The university won’t decrease the number of child care spots available on campus, she said, but the question is how to achieve that goal. Fox pledged to create a workgroup that would look at providing as much child care as possible given the university’s limited resources.

“This is a severe problem for us,” she said.

During the meeting, employees also talked about carpooling, sustainability on campus, marketing and many other issues.

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