December 2, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Members of the Illinois General Assembly as soon as tomorrow are expected to consider, and approve, a major overhaul of the state’s public sector pension systems—changes that as proposed would adversely impact public university employees, place higher education in Illinois at a competitive disadvantage, and ultimately weaken the state’s economy.

For these reasons, the University of Illinois is officially opposing the legislation and we are profoundly disappointed that in nearly three years of engaging the legislative process on this crucial issue, the state’s nine public universities’ counterproposals will not be included.

Details of the final legislative proposal ( have only just emerged; if passed, the governor has said he will sign it into law, and it is virtually certain to face a constitutional challenge in the courts. The proposed effective date is July 1, 2014. A brief letter from the state’s public universities’ presidents and chancellors expressing their collective opposition went to the legislative leaders and governor today.

In a statement regarding the public pension funding crisis a year ago, the University of Illinois called for a pension system that would be reasonable, responsible, sustainable, and competitive with those offered by our peer institutions.

In our view, the legislation under consideration fails to meet those basic principles. The likely changes arguably lessen the retirement commitments made to employees and retirees, and their net effect also will harm the public higher education sector in Illinois. We will make our opposition heard and monitor the pending legislation and will keep you informed of developments.


Robert A. Easter, President, University of Illinois
Phyllis Wise, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield