We will certainly look back at 2020 as a difficult and challenging year. Our nation continues to struggle with a surging pandemic, an economic crisis and navigate racial and social justice issues. We have faced these challenges here at NKU, while we deliberated the best option for our pension predicament.
Over the last three years, Kentucky Employees Retirement System’s (KERS) pension crisis has been the cause of much anxiety around campus, and frankly, across the Commonwealth. We heard the personal stories that Staff Congress shared and know this has been a cloud hanging over all of us. At NKU, we are a mission-driven and people-focused university, which means we derive our value from our people. During this unprecedented time, that has challenged us like no other, our people stayed true to what we stand for.
Therefore, we are pleased that this afternoon, the Board of Regents approved a resolution to exit the university from KERS but allow our Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees to stay in the system.
Tier 3 staff will move to the university’s defined contribution plan, and our models indicate that they will benefit from this move. The university will work with them to orient them to the TIAA plan. While the Soft Freeze option will result in a higher debt service, the Board recognized that the implications of this decision go well beyond the financial. This recommendation is as much an investment into our people as it is a path to ridding ourselves of the shackles of an underfunded system. And it is a belief that attracting, supporting and retaining the most capable and motivated individuals will drive and sustain the change needed to thrive in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
The post-COVID world will offer challenges and opportunities. It will require us to be even more nimble and agile as we seek innovative ways to fulfil our mission and vision. We hope this decision gives you a renewed sense of purpose and galvanizes the entire campus community to accelerate our student success efforts. What we do here at NKU makes a difference in lives of our students and the region, and we appreciate everything you do in support of our university’s mission.
Ashish Vaidya Andrá Ward
President Chair, Board of Regents