Assistance for children of faculty discussed

Due to the fear of losing important faculty members to competitor universities, UC Berkeley deans have discussed the possibility of offering college tuition assistance to faculty members’ children.

At the Sept. 6 meeting of the campus’s Council of Deans — comprising campus administrators and deans of the various schools and colleges on campus — Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer raised the issue of whether the campus, which does not offer college tuition assistance to its faculty’s children, should change its practices in order to better compete with peer institutions.

College tuition assistance received by faculty members at UC Berkeley’s various comparator institutions — eight public and private institutions against which the UC benchmarks itself — varies by institution, with some schools offering generous benefits.

Stanford University provides tax-exempt payments toward the cost of employees’ children’s tuition at accredited colleges and universities for up to  $20,025, according to a May 2011 report produced by the university. University of Southern California — not one of the comparator institutions, but a school to which the UC has lost several faculty over the last decade, according to a UC Office of the President report on faculty competitiveness — provides full tuition assistance to faculty children who are able to gain admissions to the university.

The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana — one of the UC’s public comparator institutions — provides a 50 percent tuition waiver for the children of all employees who have been working for seven years.

Like at UC Berkeley, children of faculty at the State University of New York, Buffalo and the University of Virginia — two more of the university’s public comparator institutions — do not receive a break on tuition.

“It comes up periodically for discussion, but has never been implemented,” said Marian Anderfuren, media relations director at the University of Virginia, in an email.

But with the UC currently facing a budget crisis, offering tuition assistance is unlikely to be implemented in the near future.

“While many deans thought that some form of tuition-assistance would be a welcome addition to Berkeley’s array of ‘family-friendly’ options for faculty members, many wondered what the costs would be,” said Janet Broughton, campus vice provost for academic affairs and faculty welfare, in an email. “There was no consensus that funding a new faculty program for tuition assistance should be among the campus’s top priorities at this time.”

In the 2010-11 school year, 48 new retention cases were reported, according to Broughton. The faculty member decided to leave UC Berkeley in four cases, to stay in 20 cases and had not made a decision by the end of the academic year in 24 cases.

“All the signs are that our retention efforts continue to be highly successful,” Broughton said in the email.