Council Ponders Benefits Change

Chair of FAS Standing Committee Issues Interim Report on Task Force

The chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Benefits Standing Committee yesterday told the Faculty Council that the committee's preliminary work indicates that many of last year's decisions regarding faculty and staff benefits resulted from purely financial considerations, according to Secretary to the Faculty Council John B. Fox '59.

The committee has set the April 3 meeting of the Corporation, the more powerful of the University's two governing boards, as a deadline for making proposals, Fox said.

Contracted last night, Professor of Sociology Peter V. Marsden, committee chair, refused to comment on his presentation.

"The nature of the presentation was an interim report, and I would really be reluctant to say anything beyond what the secretary said," Marsden said.

Fox said the committee's work during the first three weeks has been focused on understanding the basis for the decisions on benefits changes, which are being phased in over this year.

"They're trying to understand the logic behind the recommendations," Fox said. "So far they're coming to the conclusion these were almost entirely financial concerns. There were no legal requirements, no policy requirements."

If the preliminary conclusions are validated bythe rest of the committee's research this spring,the findings would be "quite significant," Foxsaid.

"If it is the case these decisions arefinancial in nature, then the next step is, 'Wasthe decision to reduce faculty pensions the bestpossible response?" Fox said.

But the committee is not close to finalconclusions or making any recommendations, councilmembers said last night.

"The impression I got that it's at a verypreliminary stage," said Adams UniversityProfessor John K. Shearman. "I don't think thatthe committee has started to do anything except toclear the ground and ask for advice."

"They're working extremely hard [and] makingimpressive progress," said Associate Professor ofGerman Peter J. Burgard. "This was a preliminaryprogress report. There are no concrete findings."

In other council business, Coolidge Professorof History and Professor of Economics David S.Landes repeated many of the charges he made atTuesday's faculty meeting.

At that meeting, Landes said that FAS is taxedby the University's central administration withoutbeing adequately represented.

"The central administration has needs," Landessaid Tuesday. "They take, and we, the faculties,[get] what is left."

Yesterday he further explained his allegationsand gave more examples of financial problemsbetween the central administration and FAS, Foxsaid.