Brandeis Suspends Plan Match for a Year

May 22, 2009 ( - Brandeis University has announced plans to suspend its retirement plan match for faculty and staff starting in July because of the faltering economy.

A New York Times article, quoting an e-mail from Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz sent to faculty and staff members, said suspending the matchfrom July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, will cover $7.4 million of the university’s projected $8.9 million deficit.

Peter B. French, the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Waltham, Massachusetts-based Brandeis, called the decision “the most equitable and least bad of the options” the university had been considering, adding, “I am quite confident that you will soon see more universities take the same action,” the Times said.

According to the Times, Brandeis officials said they had concluded that a temporary freeze on retirement contributions would be fairer, and do less harm to the university’s mission and future, than layoffs or across-the-board pay cuts, which some other colleges have undertaken.

The Times quoted Chad W. Peterson, a spokesman for TIAA-CREF as saying that so far this year 15 higher education institutions and other nonprofits had suspended their retirement plan contributions. The University of Miami said earlier this year that it was considering suspending retirement contributions as part of its strategy for dealing with the economic crisis, but then decided not to do so, at least in the coming fiscal year.

A number of colleges and universities have trimmed the percentage of retirement contributions they would match; Ithaca College, for example, reduced the percentage to 8% from 8.75%.