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CSU-ERFA News & Views

Please note that the summaries of news items posted on this page do not necessarily represent the official positions of CSU-ERFA or its affiliates.  Links contained within the summaries may take you to the original news sources.  CSU-ERFA is not responsible for the content of linked articles and cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of those articles.

March 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.
 

 

CSU-ERFA Foundation awards Mary B. White (San Jose) $2000 grant for research on the California Art Glass Movement.

Mary B. White from San Jose State University was awarded a grant in the amount of  $2000 from the CSU-ERFA Foundation Grant Awards Cycle 2014-2015.

Her research project is on Hot Spots: California Art Glass Movement: 1962 to Present. The project highlights many glass movement artists. It also highlights California Higher Educations role in the development and expansion of the national art glass movement since 1964.   The project includes interviewing key CSU faculty and alumni glass artists. The final product is the mounting of a six-day exhibition of 20 to 25 glass sculptural pieces, a symposium, and an on-line catalogue. The Association of California Clay and Glass Artists have agreed to co-sponsor the exhibition and will pay for insurance, along with in other in- kind support.

White anticipates that the research project will bring prestige and recognition to the CSU for its role in and contributions to the Glass Art Movement.

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February 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.
 

 


CalPERS has announced that nominations for candidates for the retiree member of the CalPERS Board of Administration will be accepted beginning on March 23, 2015. More information about the nomination process can be found here.

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Numerous news sources reported today (Feb. 5, 2015) that health insurance giant Anthem's computers were hacked; and, that customers' personal information was stolen - including birthdates and Social Security numbers.  We do not know yet if this includes CalPERS members and annuitants who are enrolled in health plans administered by Anthem-Blue Cross.  We will post that information when becomes available.  Anthem has stated that it will mail letters to all clients whose information has been stolen.

Meanwhile, Anthem clients should be alert to signs of possible identity theft.  The Los Angeles Times has published an article that provides some information that you can use to protect yourself from possible identity theft.

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously in a case from West Virginia (M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett, No. 13-1010) that in the absence of specific language in a union contract granting retirees free lifetime healthcare benefits, the company might be able to require the retirees to contribute to the cost of their health plan.

This raises a question about CSU retiree health benefits.  Namely, are they a "vested right," i.e. are CSU retirees entitled to lifetime healthcare benefits? In an attempt to answer that question, your webmaster has prepared a short article that discusses the issues surrounding CSU retiree healthcare benefits.

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January 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.
 

 


Call for Applications

Faculty Fellows Positions

California Community Colleges and the California State University

Faculty Collaboratives Project

Association of American Colleges and Universities

California is one of five states taking the lead in a new project that will create a state -based, faculty-led "innovation hub" to build faculty capacity to advance curricular reforms that promote student learning, persistence and completion. Organized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) with a grant from Lumina Foundation, the Faculty Collaboratives project (2014-2017) aims to develop a multi-state network of resource and innovation hubs and a learning community of faculty fellows focused on large-scale, proficiency-based projects related to AAC&Us Liberal Education and Americas Promise (LEAP) initiative.

Five (5) California faculty fellows, a hub director, and a state liaison will work together to create a sustainable statewide community of practice through digital networks and in-person events to help faculty learn about the projects and contribute in creative ways to change. The resource hub will provide open source materials and access to the national learning community of fellows. The project seeks to engage and reach out to all educators, whatever their position, type of contract, or institutional type.

Phase I of the project (2014-2016) will involve five states who are affiliated with LEAP. The California State University (CSU) adopted the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes as the framework for its general education (GE) breadth curriculum in 2008. The other phase I states are Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. The other five LEAP states will join the project in phase II (2015-2017).

The proficiency-based projects include the Degree Qualifications Profile, Tuning, LEAP VALUE rubrics, MSC: A Multi-state Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment, and General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs). The California collaborative will also work with the Interstate Passport Initiative of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE).

We are seeking applications from faculty in the California Community Colleges (CCC) and California State University (CSU) for five (5) faculty fellows to participate in the Faculty Collaboratives project from February, 2015, through September, 2016.

All CCC and CSU faculty (full- or part-time) are eligible to apply. Emeritus faculty will also be considered. Candidates should have a strong interest in faculty development and in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Faculty fellows will receive a modest stipend or honorarium ($4000 for each of the first two years) and will also receive travel support to attend project convenings. They will also receive recognition through AAC&U and the California collaborative and be encouraged to develop publications and other scholarly materials based on their work.

The faculty fellows will have five areas of activity:

1. Study one proficiency-based project. Each fellow will investigate the initiative, including what it is, where it is being implemented, what evidence exists about its efficacy, and its implications for policy and practice, especially in California. The fellows key responsibility will be to provide leadership for learning and communication about one of the five:

Degree Qualifications Profile

Tuning

LEAP VALUE rubrics

MSC: A Multi-state Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment

General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs)

2. Locate or create useful materials. The fellow will look for available resources, such as studies, practical tools, video clips, and websites developed elsewhere through or for the initiative. The fellow will also offer recommendations to the hub director concerning the design and content features of the hub and be creative in assembling and disseminating materials that will be interesting and useful to colleagues throughout California.

3. Collaborate with the state team. The fellows will work with the state team to organize and participate in activities and convening for outreach and social networking to faculty in the state. The team will determine how to create an effective website and communication hub and how the hub can function as a leadership center for faculty learning and outreach.

4. Join a national network. Each fellow will participate in a national network with fellows in other states working on the same initiative, sharing strategies on a bi-monthly basis (organized by AAC&U staff).

5. Help with project assessment. The fellows will contribute to state and national assessment activities.

For more information about the Faculty Collaboratives project and related initiatives, see http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/projects/faculty-project.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and letter of interest describing their academic experience, faculty development work, and scholarship of teaching and learning. Familiarity with LEAP and experience with assessment of student learning, educational technologies, and web design are helpful. Finalists will be asked to provide two professional references. Send the letter to Debra David, California state liaison, at ddavid@calstate.edu by January 30, 2015.

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As you may know, CalPERS reimburses the basic Medicare Part B monthly premium (which is $104.90 for 2015) for its retirees who are in Medicare.  What you may not know is that if you are subject to the Income-Related Monthly Medicare Adjustment (the IRMMA) because your annual total adjusted income exceeds certain limits, you may be eligible to have part or all of the IRMMA reimbursed by CalPERS as well.

The amount of additional reimbursement will depend on how much excess money is available from the monthly health insurance contribution made by the CSU for CSU retirees.  This will vary depending on how many of your dependents, if any, are enrolled in CalPERS basic or supplemental health plans.

If you think you may be eligible for reimbursement for all or part of your IRMMA, you have to notify CalPERS in writing.  Include in your letter to CalPERS a copy of your annual letter from the Social Security Administration describing your benefits for the coming calendar year.  This will include the amount of your IRMMA. (The letter for 2015 was sent to Social Security recipients in late November 2014.)

Mail your request to

CalPERS Health Account Services
Medicare Administration
P.O. Box 942714
Sacramento, CA 94229-2714

Within a few weeks you should receive a response from CalPERS, which indicates the amount of additional Part B reimbursement you will receive for 2015.  Note that it can take from 30 to 90 days before the additional reimbursement begins to appear in your retirement check or deposit.  The reimbursement will cover the entire year, so you may also see a lump sum payment for the prior months.

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December 2014

Don't play too much golf.  Two rounds a day are plenty.  ~Harry Vardon

A newly-released study shows that defined-benefit pension plans continue to be significantly more efficient than defined-contribution pension plans. The defined-benefit plans provide higher benefits at lower cost than 401K and other types of defined-contribution plans according to the authors.

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Reminder: The deadline for submitting applications to the CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Program 2014-15 cycle is December 19, 2014.  These grants help to support the research, scholarly, and creative work of CSU-ERFA members.  A total of $5,000 is available for this grant cycle.  Non-members may submit grant applications if they include their membership application with their proposals.  Follow the above link for more information and application forms.

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There is still time to donate to the CSU-ERFA Charitable foundation and receive a tax deduction for 2014.  Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received a third $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through December 30, 2014 up to a total of $500.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant. 

In either case, please download and fill out our donation agreement form.

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November 2014

Q. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but it might take him or her two or three days. ~Author unknown.

The November 2014 issue of the CSU-ERFA newsletter, the Reporter, is now available online.

This edition includes a number of articles of interest to CSU retirees, including an update on health care issues such as long-term care options, and an update on the CVS Caremark generic drug program provided by our Health Benefits Committee Chair David Wagner (Sacramento).  John Kilgour (East Bay) has written an interesting article on pension obligation bonds (POBs), and several other timely articles.

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October 2014


Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith


The search for a new Executive Director for CSU-ERFA has begun.  As many of you already know, current CSU-ERFA Executive Director Don Cameron recently announced his intention to retire from his position at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

In accordance with CSU-ERFA By-Laws our president, Barbara Sinclair, has appointed a search committee to find a suitable candidate to fill the position of Executive Director beginning on July 1, 2015.  In addition to President Barbara Sinclair, the search committee includes Bill Blischke, David Elliott, Harold Goldwhite, and Mark Shapiro.  Don Cameron serves on the committee as a non-voting ex-officio member.

Those who may be interested in applying for the position should download the vacancy announcement, which includes a description of the duties involved, the required qualifications, the compensation, and instructions for applying for the position.

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September 2014


Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith


The September 2014 issue of the CSU-ERFA newsletter, the Reporter, now is available online.  This issue contains a number of very interesting articles of interest to members and all CSU retirees, including an analysis of upcoming ballot propositions, health care information, and an interesting article on economical vacation opportunities in southeastern British Columbia among others.  The pdf version of this issue can be downloaded here.

(The Sept. 2014 Reporter includes two web-only extras, a more complete version of the Frugal Ferper's article on Vacationing in Southeastern British Columbia that includes additional pictures and useful web links.  And, a web-exclusive article on a self-administered test for dementia.)

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You probably have heard that Medicare does not provide long-term-care (LTC) benefits.  While that is true in general, there are some exceptions where Medicare does provide limited LTC benefits.  Juanita Barrena, a member of the CSU-ERFA Health Benefits Committee, recently prepared a detailed summary of the LTC benefits that are provided by Medicare for people who meet the appropriate criteria.  A copy of this article can be downloaded here.

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August 2014


Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith


CSU-ERFA Grant Reports: We have received two year-end grant reports from recipients of past CSU-ERFA Grant Awards:

Julia M. Allen, Phd,  SSU, Cycle 2012 2013 ERFA-Grants Research Recipient submitted the following report.

Passionate Commitments: The Lives of Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins by Julia M. Allen is a dual biography of two twentieth-century American women whose love for each other fueled their work to create an egalitarian world.

Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester, life partners and heirs to significant wealth, developed their rhetorical skills and political acumen in early twentieth-century women's organizations. Committed to social transformation, they lived together frugally while devoting themselves to several organizations in succession, including the Episcopal Church and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, as they searched for a place where their efforts were welcomed and where they could address the root causes of social inequities. In 1927, they joined the Communist Party USA. They helped to build the Labor Research Association where they engaged in research and wrote books, pamphlets, and articles arguing for gender and racial equality and economic justice.

Although they lived in an era when same sex partnerships were often indivisible from independent incomes, Hutchins and Rochester encouraged Americans of all classes to join in efforts to overturn an economic system that fixed women in dependency and pitted men and women against each other in the workplace. They merged feminist discourse with Marxist Leninist discourse in order to create a new amalgam offering a platform for working class writers and speakers, especially women. Even beset by FBI harassment and surveillance during the 1950s, they celebrated the work of other women who broke with convention in their personal and public lives. While today their lives may appear rife with contradictions, a close examination of their work reveals a unity of purpose that was visionary in the context of their times.

Passionate Commitments examines the personal and public writings of Rochester and Hutchins to reveal under-reported challenges to capitalism as well as little-known efforts to strengthen feminism during their time. Through an investigation of their lives and writings, this biography charts the underpinnings of American Cold War fears and the influence of sexology on political movements in mid-twentieth-century America.

Passionate Commitments won the 2014 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Non-Fiction presented by the Publishing Triangle.  The award ceremony took place in New York on April 24, 2014.

For more information go to: : http://www.sunypress.edu/p-5669-passionate-commitments.aspx. Or visit Julia M. Allens website at: http://passionatecommitments.weebly.com/.

 

Elizabeth Kennday-Corathers, PhD, CSULB, Cycle 2012 2013 ERFA-Grants Research Recipient submitted the following report:

Title of your Research: The Repository of Wonders, A Multi-faceted, Collaborative Art Installation

The Repository of Wonders is modeled on the 19th-century profitable dime museum that packaged entertainment with education for the masses. The installation examines the way in which objects can be promoted as worthy when presented as significant via labeling and hyperbolic advertisement, and is re-configured for specific venues consisting of artifacts, photographs, brochures, didactic materials and performances. Utilizing the original dime museum practice of creating fake relics and fabricated provenances for their objects, labels are written with some basis of historical research woven into the otherwise fictitious history; the burden is upon the viewer to sort fact from fiction.

One of the major sub-theme, in this project, explores the emergence of the strong, academic and/or free-spirited feminine persona (i.e., Anne Brigman, Gertrude Bell, Isadora Duncan, Alexandra David-Nel) at the turn of the century through the creation of administrative and curatorial staff that found and run the museum. Their depiction is shaped through journals, letters and photographs. Kennday-Corathers was largely responsible in this collaboration for the development of the characters created for the project and their depiction through photographic tableaux.

Tableaux Samples:  Each tableau relates to a character and her story in the Repository of Wonders.

 

Suffragette Movement  

                    

Plein Air Painting

 

  After Isadora Duncan

The project has enjoyed great success regionally in Nova Scotia and internationally through social media.  The Repository of Wonders won a coveted spot in the Creative Nova Scotia Gala Awards in October 2013, and has been approached with the possibility of a book based on the installation (scheduled to begin following the July 2014 exhibition)

The grant received from the CSU-ERFA Foundation was invaluable to this endeavor.  Creation of the tableaux was continued through March 2014. All materials for the installation were assembled for the exhibition at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.  The Canadian Arts Council furnished additional funding for framing of the printed imagery.

For more information see Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Repository-of-Wonders/336327850560) loosely entitled Contemporaries of The Repository of Wonders, featuring innovative and adventurous women of the era.

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The open enrollment period for CalPERS health plans begins on September 15, 2014 and runs through October 10, 2014.  During this period you may change from you current health plan to one of the other plans offered in your area.  If you wish to remain in your current plan, you do not need to do anything.

You already should have received a personalized packet from CalPERS outlining your current coverage and the options available to you if you wish to switch to a different plan.  If you haven't received this packet, call CalPERS at 1-888-225-7377 to request your packet.

Those of you enrolled in PERS Choice, PERS Select, or PERSCare Supplement to Medicare Plans also will receive updated information about your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage from CVS/Caremark.

Remember that if you wish to continue your current coverage, no action is needed on your part.

(UPDATE: we have learned that some packets were being mailed out late, so wait until the first week in September before contacting CalPERS if you haven't received a packet!)

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CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation Receives a Third Challenge Grant:

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received a third $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through December 30, 2014 up to a total of $500.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant. 

In either case, please download and fill out our donation agreement form.

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July 2014


Retire from work, but not from life.  ~M.K. Soni


CalPERS released preliminary investment results for the 2013-14 fiscal year today (7/14/2014).  According to the news release, CalPERS investments grew by 18.4% during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014.  This rate of return was significantly higher than the 7.5% discount rate that CalPERS uses to estimate future earnings.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with pension fund accounting, the discount rate is the rate of return needed to ensure that all current and future pension obligations can be met.  For the past 20 years CalPERS investment returns have averaged 8.5%, which is 13% higher than the assumed 7.5% discount rate; and, since 1988 CalPERS investment returns have averaged 8.9%, which is almost 19% above the discount rate.

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The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation Board recently voted to make $5,000 available to the CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee for the 2014-15 Grant Awards cycle.  CSU-ERFA members may apply for grant awards to support their research, scholarly, or creative activities.  Typically one to four grant awards are made each cycle, and grants usually range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000.00 though occasionally larger amounts are awarded.

If you are interested in applying please click the following link for guidelines and application forms: http://csuerfa.org/services.html#Grant_Awards_Program

If you are not currently a member of CSU-ERFA, you may submit a grant application together with a CSU-ERFA membership application.

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June 2014

O, blest retirement! friend to life's decline -
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease!
~Oliver Goldsmith

 

 


The CalPERS Pension and Health Benefits committee recently recommended new Health Premium Rates for 2015 to the full CalPERS Board, and the Board has approved those recommendations.

Many members who are in CalPERS Basic HMO or PPO plans will see small decreases in premiums averaging roughly -3%, and most others in basic plans will see only small increases.

However, all CSU annuitants who are in Medicare HMO (Medicare Advantage) plans will see increases. These will range from 0.18% for Kaiser CA plans to 38.32% for United Healthcare plans. (Note that these rates are reduced by the CSU monthly employer contribution.)

CSU annuitants who are in PPO supplement to Medicare Plans (PERS Choice, PERS Select, and PERSCare) also will see increases.  These will range from 10.49% to 12.65%. (Note that these rates are reduced by the CSU monthly employer contribution.)

The following link will take you to a table comparing both basic and Medicare HMO rates before the employer contribution.

http://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/member/health/2015-health-info/rates/state-hmo.pdf

The following link will take you to a table comparing both basic and Medicare PPO rates before the employer contribution.

http://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/member/health/2015-health-info/rates/state-ppo.pdf

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