May 29, 2014

May 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 5

Kostas Yfantis, an Academic Professional at Urbana, to Serve on Presidential Search

Kostas Yfantis, the AP rep on the Presidential Search Committee.
KOSTAS YFANTIS, Manager of Teaching and Learning Services with Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) at the Urbana campus, was named on April 18 as one of the 19 members of the search committee that will assist the Board of Trustees in selecting the next President of the University of Illinois. The committee will identify and screen candidates to replace President Robert Easter, who plans to retire when his term ends on June 30, 2015.

“I AM humbled by the distinction to serve on the committee to help with the selection of the next President,” Yfantis said. “I have been part of the U of I family for over 18 years in a set of roles including those of student and academic professional and I will do my best as part of the committee to help find a strong leader for our University. I believe that the committee’s charge [1] articulates well some of the qualities and criteria for evaluating potential candidates.”

AS REPORTED in the news media, there are three town-hall meetings planned for June to get input from students, faculty, staff and alumni: June 23 in Springfield, June 24 in Chicago, and June 25 in Urbana. “This is an opportunity to provide feedback and I recommend participating in this important process,” Yfantis said.

YFANTIS HAS worked for CITES for ten years and in his current role, he manages the group that provides support to faculty, students and staff using a set of IT services with a focus on Blackboard Learn. His experience includes consulting, training, communication, and marketing and he takes an active interest in best practices in eLearning, management, and leadership.

YFANTIS RECEIVED his undergraduate degree in Communication from the Urbana-Champaign campus. He has served as Chair of the Council of Academic Professionals at Urbana as well as Chair of the University Professional Personnel Advisory Committee (UPPAC). In these and other capacities he has collaborated extensively with students, faculty and staff from the Springfield, Chicago and Urbana campuses.

IN THE last three years, Yfantis has served on at least seven search committees, ranging from executive to entry-level positions, transcending units and campuses. In spring 2014, he served on a search committee for a position with Academic Computing and Communications Center (ACCC) at the Chicago campus.

Injunction Temporarily Stops Pension Reform Act…

THE WE Are One Illinois union coalition, the State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA), and plaintiffs filed a motion for injunctive relief in Sangamon County Circuit Court that seeks to stop the implementation of pension reform legislation, Senate Bill 1, Public Act 98-599, by seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction until a final resolution on the bill’s merits is reached.

CIRCUIT JUDGE John Belz granted the temporary injunction May 14.

THE ACT makes cuts to the pensions of working and retired members of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) Teachers' Retirement System, and State Employees' Retirement System. It reduces the value of retirement benefits through cutting cost-of-living adjustments. It also caps the amount of salary that earns a pension.

MICHAEL T. CARRIGAN, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO, made the following statement to the media explaining why an injunction is critical:

“The pension theft bill must not be implemented before the courts have ruled. The fair and proper thing to do is not to allow this legislation to cause any damage until the courts have spoken on its constitutionality. Otherwise, teachers, first responders, nurses, and other state and university employees and retirees will be irreparably harmed. People are being forced to make irrevocable, life-altering retirement decisions. Yet they face these decisions in an uncertain economic environment while awaiting a court ruling. The pension theft bill should -- and, we believe, will -- be overturned, but the decision to retire cannot be undone. A complete stay of the bill's implementation is necessary to avoid irreparably harming active and retired teachers and state and university employees.”

THE JUDGE’S action stays the legislation in its entirety so that the pension systems and other defendants are enjoined from implementing or administering any provisions of the act until the court issues a final ruling on the merits of the act’s constitutionality or until further order of the court. In other words, the injunction will remain in effect until a determination is made on the law’s constitutionality, unless the court takes further action on the injunction prior to that time.

THE COURT found that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on their contention that Public Act 98-599 violates the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

“THIS IS an important first step in our efforts to overturn this unfair, unconstitutional law and to protect retirement security for working and retired Illinois families," said Carrigan. "We are pleased the court prudently chose to halt implementation of these sweeping changes, which have caused so much fear and uncertainty and are likely to be overturned."

IN ADDITION to its injunctive efforts, the coalition will continue to seek to overturn SB 1 through a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

…Attorney General Agrees to Postponement as Well

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan agreed to postpone implementation
of the pension reform law, but still wants to see it enacted.
THE STATE Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) and other groups representing employee and retiree interests reached a tentative agreement with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to postpone implementation of the State’s new pension law Senate Bill 1, Public Act 98-599.

THE AGREEMENT is pending as it requires judicial approval before going into effect. The agreement delays implementation of the pension law until July 1, 2015. Specifically, the agreement protects SURS members currently eligible for retirement by allowing them to delay their retirement decision until the constitutionality of the new pension law is determined. It allows them to calculate their money purchase annuity based on the effective rates as of June 30, 2014, and allows them to avoid the skips in the annual increases if the changes to the pension are upheld. The agreement also ensures that any unnecessary pension contributions will be refunded. 

“IT TOOK time and a lot of work but in the end we reached an agreement on a critical issue to our members, said SUAA Executive Director Linda Brookhart. The agreement ensures that our members will have all of the facts before they have to make a decision on whether to retire or not. It is my hope the court will do the right thing and allow this agreement to stand.

HOWEVER, WHILE Madigan’s “filings all but concede that the benefit cuts passed by the General Assembly appear to violate the plain language of Article VIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution that deems all State and local government pensions to be ‘an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired,’” according to Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune, Madigan still is asking the courts to ultimately uphold the law. See

SUAA ALSO has filed a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 1, PA 98-599. The case is pending in the Sangamon County Circuit Court. SUAA's lawsuit challenges the changes to the pension code on the basis that they violate three different clauses of the Illinoi s Constitution. The suit claims Senate Bill 1 violates the Pension Clause, Article 13 Sec. 5, which forbids diminishment of pensions, the Takings Clause, Article 1 Sec. 15, which forbids taking of private property for public use without just compensation, and the Contracts Clause, Article 1 Sec. 16, which forbids the State to breach contracts that it makes.

SURS MEMBERS have the ability to choose one of three different retirement options but once they choose a retirement option they are locked into their retirement plan. By changing the rules governing the various SURS retirement plans, SUAA believes the State is in breach of contract.

Money Purchase Glitch Fixed

THE BOARD of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) on May 8 approved an emergency rule that will preserve benefits employees have already earned under the “money purchase” option.

THE SURS board’s emergency ruling addresses an unintended glitch in the State’s new pension law, and guarantees that the retirement benefits employees have earned as of June 30, 2014, will not be reduced – even if they retire months or years later.

BEFORE THE ruling, those benefit levels under “money purchase” would have been locked in as of June 30, 2013, eliminating a year of contributions and interest, and creating an incentive for employees to retire, whether they wanted to or not.

“I AM grateful to the SURS board for its decision to correct the “money purchase” problem, and its efforts to curb large-scale retirements that would have cut deeply into the quality of our academic and research missions, and our service to students and the State,” President Robert Easter wrote in an email to the University. “I also want to thank House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose letter to SURS helped clarify the legislature’s intent to preserve money purchase benefits that have already been earned. And I want to thank University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy and Avijit Ghosh, my senior advisor, for their leadership on this critical issue and their commitment to our employees by personally attending the SURS board meeting and advocating on behalf of employees at the state’s public universities.”

RECORD NUMBER seek retirement. See UIC News, April 29:
RULE CHANGE will protect pensions, prevent University brain drain. See Chicago Sun-Times, May 8:
EMPLOYEES CAN “unretire.” See UIC News, May 20:

Kate Pravera Joins APAC

Kate Pravera is APAC’s newest member after her recent election.
By Susan S. Stevens

KATE PRAVERA, PhD, has crossed off one major item from her to-do list: become a member of APAC.

PRAVERA, WHO is Academic Director at the School of Continuing Studies, is APAC’s newest member after her recent election.

SHE WANTED to become involved in APAC because, she said, “I am very passionate about professional development and promoting the role of academic professionals at UIC.” Pravera added, “I am very interested in creating new programs. That’s my passion and expertise.”

“I WANTED to do this for some time and I just didn’t have the time,” she said. That changed this year, as her job duties evolved and she is no longer responsible for marketing and administrative duties for the Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM) program.

“MY ROLE,” she said, “now focuses on being the academic director of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program in the School of Continuing Studies,” a program she founded in 2001 in the Great Cities Institute at the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

IN 2001, she established the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program, the first online, instructor-led professional development credential for nonprofit practitioners based at a U.S. university. In 2013, the CNM program moved to Continuing Studies.

“I WAS RESPONSIBLE for all facets of program management before bringing the program to Continuing Studies,” Pravera said. “I had no time to consider APAC. Now in the School of Continuing Studies, I can focus on curriculum development and building partnerships for our nonprofit management initiatives.”

THE CNM PROGRAM has tremendous stability, Pravera said, now that it has the necessary administrative support. “This program is not well-known on campus,” she explained. “It complements degree studies, and tends to serve people who already have a graduate degree and may be working in nonprofits but need professional development.”

WITH APAC, Pravera also wants to raise awareness about professional development programs that are available. “It’s maybe a simple matter of linking people with programs,” she said. Since the programs are entirely online, there are no geographic boundaries, and may reach even to other campuses. “I’m a social entrepreneur so you never know where things will go,” she said.

SOME CNM CLASSES are especially well suited for Academic Professionals, Pravera noted. Among the course offerings she recommends for Academic Professionals are Grantwriting, Strategic Management, Social Media, and Partnerships in Collaboration Across the Sectors.

“I DO THINK it’s important that Academic Professionals have a voice at the University,” Pravera said.

CONCERNING CHALLENGES facing Academic Professionals, Pravera said she thinks the big ones are recognition and opportunities for advancement. In terms of salary, “I think we should have appropriate increases commensurate with the market,” she added.

IN HER twelfth year at UIC, Pravera noted, “We have tremendous benefits here.” As far as a rule change to the University employees’ pension law that will stop a potential “brain drain” by the end of June because of an error in calculating benefits, “that’s the least they could do,” Pravera commented. A recent injunction stopped the pension law from going into effect.

PRAVERA TEACHES as well as oversees. “I have personally designed all the courses we offer in collaboration with other instructors,” she noted. A new class that she teaches is Nonprofits Today. She also teaches periodically as an adjunct in the Department of Public Administration in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

MORE THAN 30 years of experience building partnerships across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and working across disciplines helped her develop her methods. With a highly participatory and results-oriented approach, she has shaped the successful design and facilitation of numerous professional development workshops, conferences, graduate-level courses, and online classes.

PRAVERA WAS founding Executive Director of the Chicago Community Loan Fund and also served as the Executive Director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation. As a Senior Consultant at Millennia Consulting LLC, she established a practice centering on planning, design, and evaluation services, including business planning, curriculum design for adult learning, program design, and organizational development. Her PhD is in social ethics from Northwestern University.

SHE AND her husband live in Berwyn, a 17-minute Metra ride from her office.

TO CONTACT Pravera, email

New Listserv Targets UIC Employees Nearing Retirement, Current Retirees

A LISTSERV on campus was recently created by the UIC State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) called “ACADEMY2”. The list is for conversation-style posts related to retirement questions, comments, announcements, and concerns. The list is unique in that you may subscribe using any email address you chose (for example, gmail or yahoo mail). That way the list remains open to those who are retired and after their “” email address expires.

THE LIST is active with many well informed contributors participating.  Additionally, UIC SUAA President, Dr. Brenda Russell, regularly responds to people’s questions. It’s a great forum for all employees (faculty, Civil Service staff, and APs) who are considering retirement.  To join the list:
  1. Send an email to
  2. no need for subject
  3. In the text body of the email, type:  subscribe academy2
IF YOU later change your mind, you can subscribe or unsubscribe at any time.

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 the College of Medicine Research Building (CMRB), 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is June 11 in Room 4175 of CMRB. For information, call (312) 996-0306.


Important Phone Numbers

THE FOLLOWING is a list of important campus phone numbers. All are area code 312.

Access and Equity, 996-8670
Admissions and Records, 996-4350
African-American Cultural Center, 996-9549
Counseling Center, 996-3490
Credit Union, 996-7436
Financial Aid, 996-3126
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Concerns Office, 413-8619
Health Service, East, 996-3388
Health Service, West, 996-2901
Housing, East, 355-6500
Housing, West, 355-6400
Latino Cultural Center, 996-3095
Lost and found, 413-5100
Network for Crime Victims, 413-8206
Office for International Students, 996-3121
Parking, East, 355-0721
Parking, West, 413-5850
Police/Fire Emergency, 355-5555
Police Nonemergency, 996-2830
Police TDD, 413-9323
Student Information Network, 996-5000
Students With Disabilities, 413-2183
Wellness Center, 413-2120
Women’s Affairs, 413-1025



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.
CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR Prof. Ann Lousin’s talk on pensions from the UIC SUAA meeting of April 24. Prof. Lousin is on the faculty of the John Marshall Law School. She believes best protected by the State Constitution are those already retired. Next are those vested and still working, etc. “Reliance” is a key factor. What did you rely on when you made your career choices? See You Tube at:
FEDS CREATE new office to keep eye on state and local pensions. See The Bond Buyer, April 29:

Vol. 7, No. 5, May 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