Trustees approve domestic partner benefits; take other action
July 13th, 2006
University of Louisville trustees gave President James Ramsey a go-ahead Thursday to include domestic partners of employees in the university’s health benefits program.
The move means that U of L can compete more effectively with the nation’s top colleges to recruit outstanding faculty, said Provost Shirley Willihnganz.
Many universities across the country, including 11 of U of L’s 17 benchmark schools, have added a domestic partner provision to their benefits packages, said Willihnganz. Others include Ohio State University, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, Harvard, Duke, Princeton and MIT.
U of L would become the first university in Kentucky to do so, she noted.
“We would like to be a leader in this regard,” Willihnganz said.
Initial research on the financial impact of offering health insurance to domestic partners has shown that the university’s costs are not likely to go up.
“We may actually end up saving money, since employees will pay a premium to cover their dependent partner,” Willihnganz said.
The university will develop a set of criteria to determine who qualifies for coverage, she said. Plans call for the provision to be in place by the next U of L health insurance open enrollment period this fall.
U of L’s faculty, staff and student senates and an assortment of registered student organizations have endorsed including domestic partners in U of L’s benefits program.
All but one trustee, Donna Tinsley Denny, voted in support of the proposal.
“I’m a former public school educator who needs a lot of information,” Denny said. “I need to have information before me to make a decision … I like whole pictures.”
Trustee Bill Stone said that although he knew some people may oppose the move, he supports it.
“We are not endorsing any lifestyle,” he said. “We are simply recognizing that people are people. We are recognizing the world we live in.”
In other action, the trustees:
- Approved a partnership agreement between U of L and Project Women, an organization that helps women with children receive an education so they can become more self-sufficient.
- Learned from Blaine Hudson, College of Arts and Sciences dean, that U of L will apply for Phi Beta Kappa designation in November.
- Approved the creation of a new Center for Asian Democracy to be housed in U of L’s Department of Political Science.
- Heard from Ramsey that U of L exceeded its research and fundraising goals in the past fiscal year. Research funding totaled $108 million, a 9.7-percent increase over 2004-05, while philanthropic contributions totaled $60.5 million, a 10-percent increase.