Updates on 403(b) Plan

April 12, 2022

Dear all,

I am writing to update you about our recent discussions regarding changes in the 403(b) plan provider. At the staff forum, the administrative forum, and the faculty meeting as well as at the Priorities and Planning (P&P) Committee—I have heard many concerns regarding these 403(b) plan changes, including the selection of a single provider and the speed of implementation. We remain committed to providing employees a retirement plan that offers a sufficiently diversified array of investments while fulfilling our legal responsibilities as plan fiduciaries.

Given the gravity of the topic and the depth of concerns raised, I asked the Pension Committee whether it would be prudent to suspend the implementation process and re-examine their decisions. The Committee has met and agreed it would be prudent to do so. As a result, we will not be implementing the 403(b) plan changes on July 1, 2022.

I have also asked the Pension Committee to consider important changes in an effort to establish a more transparent and inclusive fiduciary process going forward.

First, I have asked the Pension Committee to work with the Faculty Policy and Conference Committee (FPCC) to revise the Governance, so that the faculty member elected as the budget member of the FPCC, who also serves on the Benefits Committee, attends Pension Committee meetings as an observer. As per the Governance, we will continue to ensure that the FCC, in cooperation with the FPCC and the Benefits Committee, advises the president on the nature and magnitude of faculty insurance, retirement, and other benefits. I expect the Pension Committee to communicate regularly with the Benefits Committee.

Second, I have asked the Pension Committee to provide updates at least twice per semester in the administrative and staff forums as well as at the faculty meeting during the next year and once per semester on an ongoing basis.  

Third, I have asked the Pension Committee to have its re-examination of the 403(b) plan’s investment provider selection completed by February 15, giving us all adequate time for discussion, understanding, and making any resulting personal decisions before any changes go into effect on July 1, 2023.

I realize that some of us may have already engaged in the transition process over the past few weeks, including meeting with Fidelity and/or TIAA advisors and even transferring funds. If, in light of this new information, you have questions about the status of your retirement accounts and how to proceed, please contact Carlos Garcia at CGarcia@Vassar.edu.

The retirement plan is an essential benefit for employees at Vassar, and this is a time in which we can strengthen our community if our deliberative process is transparent, thoughtful, and inclusive, while keeping the fiduciary decision making with the Pension Committee. My hope is that if we can move smoothly through this process, we will emerge as a more cohesive and collaborative community.

If you have questions or want to give input, please reach out to Bryan Swarthout, who chairs the Pension Committee, or Carlos Garcia, who oversees the Human Resource process of implementing the retirement plan.  Please continue to read emails from Human Resources about next steps.

Thank you,

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604