CSU seeks to modernize employee retirement plans

Spring 2020 kicks-off the implementation of a research-based approach to improve retirement preparedness for university employees. Through this endeavor, a retirement plans comparative review process will be performed.

Innovest Portfolio Solutions, a national firm specializing in this type of research endeavor, will be working with a project committee established through the university’s shared governance model to assist in the review and recommendations to Human Resources for retirement plan improvements. Innovest recently completed similar retirement projects for other higher education institutions in the State of Colorado. 

Campus Communications from Committee Chair:

Project Committee:

  • Chair: Joseph DiVerdi, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Committee Member
    Associate Professor, Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences
  • Sue Doe, Faculty Council Chair
    Professor, English, College of Liberal Arts
  • Catherine Douras, Admin Pro Council Chair
    Senior Research Administrator, Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Bolivar Senior, University Benefits Committee Chair, Associate Professor
    Construction Management, College of Health & Human Science (now retired)
  • Lacey Snyder, Higher Ed ORP Review Committee Member
    Administrative Professional,  Associate University Controller

Advisory Members: 

CSU Human Resources 

  • Robyn Fergus, Vice President for Human Resources & CHRO
  • Bill Liley, Special Assistant to CHRO & Retired HR Director
  • Teri Suhr, Chief Total Rewards Officer 

Innovest Portfolio Solutions

  • Wendy Dominguez, Principal, President, & Co-Founder
  • Gordon Tewell, Principal
  • Troy Jensen, Vice-President

Previous Committee Members: 

  • John Elder, University Benefits Committee & Faculty Council Member, Professor, Finance and Real Estate, College of Business
  • Tim Gallagher, Past Chair, Faculty Council, Professor, Finance and Real Estate, College of Business

As part of the committee’s role, the current CSU retirement plan vendors (Fidelity Investments, TIAA and AIG) may be required to submit formal proposals to identify and retain a recordkeeper(s) with extensive higher education experience at a competitive fee to administer the university’s retirement plans.

Through this project effort Human Resources wishes to modernize the university’s retirement plan offerings, while increasing participant focus on education with best-in-class investment options and stellar recordkeeper(s) arrangements at competitive costs.

Recording of Virtual Campus Forum

Project Timeline

Phase III:  Recordkeeper(s) Selection – Campus Education  Investment Selection – Conversion Coordination 


Phase I (completed May 22, 2020):   Benchmarking & Strategic Planning

Phase II (beginning May 22, 2020 – completed December 10, 2021)Retirement Vendor Search/Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Services (beginning May 2020)

 Under Committee Review:

  • Employee retirement survey feedback results (beginning December 2020)
  • RFQ record-keeper responses (beginning January 2021)

Completed by Human Resources:
University Benefits Committee – February 13, 2020
Faculty Council – April 7, 2020
Administrative Professional Council – May 11, 2020

Completed by Committee Chair:
Administrative Professional Council – June 14, 2021
University Benefits Committee – August 12, 2021
Faculty Council – September 7, 2021

Friday, April 10; 10-11 am
Tuesday, April 14; 2-3 pm
Thursday, April 23; 10-11 am

Frequently Asked Questions

CSU’s 401(a) plan, also known as the Optional Retirement Plan or better known as the Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) for faculty and non-classified staff.  The university contributes 12% to those employees who are match eligible and employees are required to contribute 8% in lieu of Social Security.  The 403(b) plan is a voluntary savings plan sponsored by the university and the same recordkeepers are available for both the DCP and 403(b).  The Student Employee Retirement Plan (SERP) will also be part of this project review process.

An extensive researched based review project has not been completed in over two decades, which is when the formal procurement process selected Fidelity Investments, TIAA and AIG (formerly known as VALIC). The retirement landscape has changed over time and with Innovest Portfolio Solutions assistance the project committee can fully review all aspects of plan compliance and administration to assure our employees of adequacy of plan choice, plan performance, recordkeeper(s), education and competitive fee arrangements.

This question cannot be answered until the project committee completes their review with Innovest Portfolio Solutions. This project includes a probable request for proposal to be certain employees have access to the best financial recordkeeper arrangement possible along with a solid line-up of fund options of best in class investments. We don’t have the answers to all of these questions as the research project will derive the outcome.

Yes! While your voice is primarily heard through your constituents representing your interests on the project committee, there will be a planned employee survey hosted by Innovest Portfolio Solutions to hear from you directly.  Your voice matters!

Frequently Asked Questions from Campus Forums

The outcome of the project is not predetermined. Which recordkeepers (vendors) and which funds will be offered and whether or not employee investment accounts will be “mapped” to new investment choices will be based upon campus feedback and the results of the review process.

Innovest is a nationally-recognized industry expert in retirement plan reviews. They have helped many institutions complete similar projects – including University of Colorado, University of Northern Colorado, and Colorado School of Mines.

The intended result of this process is to modernize the CSU retirement plans. Items that are top-of-mind for the committee are customer service, participant education and communication, retirement education and planning tools, organization focus and experience in the higher education market, and plan fees and costs.

You can get one-on-one assistance by making an appointment with your retirement vendor on the HR Website. In addition, many faculty and staff retain a personal financial advisor to assist with all aspects of financial planning including investment choices in employer retirement plans.

The outcome of the project is not predetermined but HR will provide full transparency throughout the process. Once a timeline for any potential changes is determined, it will be communicated to all employees.

The Health Savings Account (HSA) is a benefit plan separate from the retirement plans. CSU is currently in a contract with Fidelity Investments as the HSA vendor and if that were to change, it would be under a different RFP process.

No, it was simply time to review our retirement plan options to ensure they are appropriately benchmarked with our peers and offer high caliber investment choices.

You will have the opportunity to participate in an employee survey during the review process. You can also email MyHR@colostate.edu at any time with your thoughts.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is a formula used to adjust Social Security benefits for individuals who receive “non-covered pensions.” A non-covered pension is a retirement plan paid by an employer that does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, typically, state and local governments or non-U.S. employers. CSU is non Social Security employer and employees may be subject to WEP. This provision can affect you when you earn a retirement or disability pension from an employer who didn’t withhold Social Security taxes and you qualify for Social Security retirement or disability benefits from work in other jobs for which you did pay Social Security taxes. More information can be found on the SSA Website.