February 25, 2014

February 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 2

APAC, SUAA Host Successful Pension Reform Town Hall; Biggest Attendance Ever

A large crowd filled Student Center West for the Town Hall.
Jeff Houch, Legislative Liaison,
SURS, speaking at the
APAC-SUAA Town Hall.
APAC and the State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) hosted "Illinois Pension Reform: How it Impacts You Now and After You Retire" on Jan. 29. Presenters were Jeff Houch, Legislative Liaison, SURS (State Universities Retirement System of Illinois), and Brenda Russell, President of the UIC Chapter of SUAA.

MORE THAN 325 people attended the event—the largest crowd ever for an APAC-sponsored event.

“AND, WE successfully broadcasted to Rockford, Peoria, and Springfield,” said Michael Moss, APAC Chair. The event marked the first time an APAC event ever was broadcast to Springfield.
PANELISTS ADDRESSED SURS retirement plan design change details as provided by Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 98-599) and what they mean for SURS members (both current employees and retirees), legislative challenges trying to overturn SB1, and retiree health insurance issues.

TO DOWNLOAD presentation PowerPoints and view high-definition videos of the event, visit http://uicretirement.blogspot.com/.

TO READ the UIC News article detailing discussions at the Town Hall, log on to http://news.uic.edu/examining-impact-of-pension-law.

IF YOU have questions on how the new legislation on pension reform will impact you, contact SURS at (800) 275-7877.

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 5175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is March 12 in Room 2750 of UH. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

Marisa Pochter New Grad Assistant for APAC

Marisa Pochter, new graduate assistant for APAC.
MARISA POCHTER is the new graduate assistant for APAC.

POCHTER NOTED she will “be working with the committee to organize and facilitate the monthly meetings, manage the listservs and the Retirement Matters blog, and assist in special projects as they come along. I'm looking forward to learning more about the professional academic system and how the University system works, in addition to getting to know more professionals on campus.

“I AM a first year graduate student working towards a Masters in Public Health,” Pochter added. “I'm originally from Southern Arizona, and moved to Chicago about four years ago. I'm still adjusting to the cold, and enjoy getting outside as much as possible - bike riding, running and playing with my dogs.”

SHE CAN be reached at mpocht2@uic.edu.

Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans Assists Largest Campus Minority Group

Individuals of Asian and Asian American heritage comprise the largest minority group on the UIC campus.
By Monica M. Walk

FOR 15 years, the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans (CCSAA) at UIC has offered representation and support to the largest minority group on the University campus. The committee promotes the social, cultural, and professional welfare of UIC’s Asian American students, faculty, and staff and reports to Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares.

“NEARLY 20 percent of the student body is Asian and Asian American,” said CCSAA Chair Jessica Canlas, associate director of communications in the College of Pharmacy Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs and a UIC alumna. “The creation of this committee was very student-driven. There already were similar committees on status for Blacks and Latinos. Asian and Asian American students said, ‘What about us?  We are a big constituency and need some support.’”

THE COMMITTEE was approved in 1999 during the tenure of Chancellor David Broski.

“THE COMMITTEE sheds light on awareness of diversity,” Canlas said, noting that students and their families may hail from very different countries—such as China or India—with very different cultural identities.  “Asian Americans are a diverse group, and we have diverse needs.”

UIC HOLDS the Federal designation of Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI), and it is also the only funded AANAPISI in the Midwest. (See more at www.uic.edu/depts/aarcc/aanapisi.html). “This is a big deal,” Canlas said.  “It allows the University to receive funding from the Federal government to support recruitment, retention, and graduation of Asian American and Pacific Islander students.” In fact, UIC is one of only two schools in the nation that currently holds two AANAPISI grants, totaling close to $4 million over six years. “Members of the committee in faculty roles were instrumental in making this happen,” Canlas said.

ESTABLISHMENT OF the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center in 2005 was another big moment for campus community, Canlas said. “The committee is a volunteer advisory group and can only do so much,” she said. “The center has dedicated staff focusing on serving students, and a physical space to build community and provide support. It is lively and crowded!”

CCSAA SUPPORTED the effort to establish the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center to provide academic and community support, which, like the earlier Chancellor’s committees, already existed for the campus Black and Latino populations. AARCC is also currently seeking a new director for the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center. (Visit www.jobs.uic.edu for more information.)

THE 16-MEMBER Chancellor’s committee comprises 13 participants from faculty and staff, plus three students. A call for members goes out each spring. Additional interested students, faculty, and staff are always welcome to participate on subcommittees that develop programs, workshops, and events addressing the employment, academic, and personal needs of the campus community. CCSAA also has opportunities for campus community members to apply for funding to attend conferences that align with the committee’s mission.

LAST SPRING, CCSAA began holding a community forum each semester. The event is open to all, with the intention of explaining the committee’s purpose and priorities while canvassing for topics and areas of concern from campus members. The first forum drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 60 people.

“WE SERVE the campus community, and need to know how they want to be served,” Canlas said. “This is a nice forum to voice opinions. I am very pleased people come and tell us.”

THE NEXT forum is slated for Wednesday, April 16 from 3-5 p.m. Location to be determined.

TOPICS OF recent concern and action for the committee include:
  • Analyzing the disparity of front-line student services staff compared to the student population. Canlas noted that staff serving students in front-line positions have not reflected the size of the Asian and Asian American student population.
  • Reviewing marketing for recruitment for a diverse pool of employees.
  • Researching diversity of the Civil Service employee pool.
  • Supporting the need for more space for the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center.  Despite a recent expansion, the space is proving small for the number of users it attracts, Canlas reported.
  • Discussing the cultural issues of mental health concerns. A first-aid training was held in December, and Canlas anticipates additional education programs in the future.
  • Discussion of the promotion and tenure process for faculty members.

“I THINK just like any other ethnic and racial group on campus, Asian Americans are integral to the University’s identity,” Canlas said.  “We are unique, and the breadth of diversity is incredible here. I am proud the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans has been able to develop a firm identity for Asian Americans on campus. We display the importance of our role here, and in doing so, bring our community together. At UIC, we can all be proud of who we are. We come together to do great things on this campus.” 

FOR MORE details about the committee or to attend a monthly meeting, visit  http://www.uic.edu/depts/ccsaa/index.html.


Pension, Retirement Information Available

APAC AND SUAA (State Universities Annuitants’ Association) publish UIC Retirement Matters at http://uicretirement.blogspot.com/. The blog contains information on pension reform, pension lawsuits, appointment limit waivers, employee unions, and more.


Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the State budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.

PENSION OVERHAUL savings will barely dent Illinois’ fiscal woes, say University researchers. WBEZ, Jan. 20, 2014: http://www.wbez.org/news/study-pension-savings-barely-dent-illinois-fiscal-woes-109547.

UNIVERSITY WILL look at ways to make up pension cuts to staff, faculty. Associated Press, Jan. 23, 2014: http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/2cc2a2116c505b613b9a82b1aa4a6784.

WE ARE One Illinois files suit to overturn pension cuts law. We Are One Illinois, Jan. 28, 2014: http://www.weareoneillinois.org/news/we-are-one-illinois-files-suit-to-overturn-pension-theft-law.

Vol. 7, No. 2, February 2014

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Neal Lorenzi, Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Monica M. Walk
Chair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Agnes Kawalec
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar