NSHE faculty (still) have 401-K style retirement plan, not PERS

19 Jun 2012 9:40 AM | Deleted user
The Las Vegas Sun writes up some of the funny math in a so-called "study" of state retirement costs, but fails to mention the most embarrassing howler in this out-of-state group's under-researched blog post: that since 1970, higher education faculty do not participate in the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada, or PERS (except those who were enrolled in it prior to their employment in the Nevada System of Higher Education).

The "report" lists 200 faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who will supposedly be paid a total of several hundred million dollars over the next 30 years. In fact, more than 93 percent of faculty (including non-instructional academic faculty) at the two universities (and nearly 90 percent of faculty across NSHE) are in precisely the sort of 401-K style, defined-contribution plan that the sponsors of the "study" recommend because it carries zero liability for the state after retirement.

This is why the Nevada News Bureau covered the NSHE retirement plan as a "model pension" program more than a year ago.

Those interested in some actual, empirically sound comparisons can turn to data from the 2011-2012 American Association of University Professors report on faculty compensation and benefits.

It states that, on average nationally, retirement benefits cost public 4-year universities $10,252 per faculty member. This amounts to 10.8 percent of total compensation. And most universities also pay into social security, which on average costs the institution another $5,383 per faculty member and another 6.2 percent of total compensation. Nevada state employees, including NSHE faculty, are not enrolled in social security, so the state does not bear this cost at all, nor are these benefits available to most NSHE faculty -- even though the authors of this "libertarian" study actually recommend social security enrollment as a way to cut costs for states and local governments!

(See Tables 10A and 10B for national averages of higher ed retirement programs.)