ARAMARK to manage SMU facilities operations

Chris Casey

ARAMARK to manage SMU facilities operations

Effective May 13, 2011, professional services provider ARAMARK will lead SMU’s Facilities Management and Sustainability operations.

Current FM&S employees are being offered the same or similar positions as part of the ARAMARK facilities services team. Each staff member’s salary and length of service at SMU will be transitioned to ARAMARK. There will be no salary decreases and no interruptions in pay or health benefits.

More information is included in the following statement released today:


Effective today, SMU has made a change in the leadership and management of the Facilities Management and Sustainability (FM&S) team. ARAMARK, a professional services provider well known to the SMU community and an industry leader, will now manage this component of the University’s operations.

Current FM&S employees are being offered the same or similar positions here on campus as part of the ARAMARK facilities services team. Each staff member’s salary and length of service at SMU will be transitioned to ARAMARK. There will be no salary decreases and no interruptions in pay or health benefits. ARAMARK will make every effort to provide employees with a benefits package that is comparable to the SMU plan.

This decision was based on three important considerations, as explained by SMU Vice President for Business and Finance Chris Casey:

Core competencies/organizational effectiveness – SMU’s core mission and competency is in the areas of teaching and research. Engaging with a respected professional service provider is a sensible solution that will allow the University to remain at the forefront of industry best practices and improve services to the campus. It also affords our FM&S employees with enhanced career and staff development opportunities.

Good stewardship – The SMU Board of Trustees has entrusted the administration of the University with the careful and responsible management of all funds, especially during challenging economic times. The University has been charged with managing budgets closely and initiating cost savings wherever possible while continuing to deliver first-rate service. The contract with ARAMARK is expected to result in significant savings to the University.

Proven track record – SMU has a long track record of engaging with professional service providers. Since 1995, the University has contracted with ARAMARK for Dining Services and more recently, for Custodial. During the past 25 years, SMU employees in the SMU Bookstore, Dining Services, Custodial Services, Copy Center and Parking Enforcement have made successful transitions to outside service providers.

Keith Gardner will serve as the Director of FM&S at SMU through ARAMARK. Keith has more than 30 years with ARAMARK in facilities management, most recently in health care. We welcome him to the SMU campus. Julie Wiksten will serve as the SMU contract administrator, just as she does for Dining Services, the Bookstore and other services. Those needing FM&S services should continue to access FM&S employees through their usual channels.

For more information or to ask questions, please e-mail auxiliaryservices@smu.edu.


May 13, 2011|News|

SMU will develop single record-keeper system for retirement plans

In response to new governmental regulations, SMU will implement important modifications to the administration of its retirement plans, according to SMU’s Offices of the Provost and Business and Finance. In addition, a new core lineup of reviewed and approved funds that meet established performance standards will be available to employees after January 1, 2012.

The University has retained the national investment advisory firm Diversified Investment Advisors to serve as a single record keeper for retirement accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. Under new and expanding governmental regulations, funds made available by the University will be regularly reviewed by a qualified independent financial advisor as well as SMU’s Retirement Plans Advisory Council, according to an e-mail message from SMU Provost Paul Ludden and Vice President for Business and Finance Chris Casey dated May 2, 2011:


May 2, 2011

Dear Colleagues:

In response to new governmental regulations, SMU is implementing important modifications to the administration of SMU Retirement Plans. As described below, SMU has retained the national investment advisory firm Diversified Investment Advisors to serve as a single record keeper for retirement accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. The adoption of a single record keeper was by unanimous agreement of SMU’s Retirement Plans Advisory Council, which includes three faculty, three staff and several ex officio members of the administration.

Under new and expanding governmental regulations, universities will be required to review and monitor the performance of funds they offer. SMU currently provides employees with a menu of funds from a variety of providers and record keepers, and it is up to employees to monitor performance. Under the new rules, plan participants will receive the benefit of knowing that the funds made available by the University will be regularly reviewed by a qualified, independent financial advisor as well as SMU’s Retirement Plans Advisory Council.

Being in regulatory compliance is vitally important to the University and its employees, so that our retirement plan retains the advantage of tax sheltering. The additional regulatory duties placed on plan sponsors are quickly changing the landscape of plan administration in higher education from multiple providers to a single record keeper, as evidenced by recent changes at Stanford, Purdue, Pepperdine, Johns Hopkins and many other universities. Each of our current providers also has acknowledged the need for this shift in plan administration.

Diversified Investment Advisors was chosen to administer the University’s retirement plan after a thorough review of proposals from firms including Fidelity Investments and TIAA-CREF. Diversified specializes in administering 403(b) plans, has a proven performance record for more than 50 years and offers extensive one-on-one services to plan participants, including customized reporting and online services. The firm will act as a neutral plan administrator and not a fund provider; its investment guidance to employees will be nonproprietary. The firm will provide a full-time on-campus investment advisor. Because the funds in the retirement plan will flow through a single record keeper instead of three, plan expenses will be reduced for most plan participants.

After January 1, 2012, a new core lineup of reviewed and approved funds that meet established performance standards will be available to employees. Fidelity, TIAA-CREF, Vanguard and other companies will be eligible to compete to have their funds represented in the lineup. While not every TIAA-CREF annuity product will remain available for future contributions, participants’ flexibility and investment choices generally will not be materially restricted. In fact, plan participants will have the option to invest in a broad array of mutual funds not in the SMU core lineup through an “open brokerage window.” More information about these options will be available when the Retirement Plans Advisory Council and the independent investment advisor conclude their review. In order to ensure the best performance of participants’ retirement accounts, the core lineup may change over time, based on the ongoing monitoring of fund performance.

Diversified Investment Advisors will make available to participants new tools to help manage accounts more effectively. These tools include the ability to execute transactions, change contribution levels and request an on-demand statement. Instead of having to go to multiple websites of different providers, plan participants will be able to “one-stop shop” their transactions.

Beginning January 1, 2012, accounts from Fidelity and Vanguard will automatically move to the new open architecture platform at Diversified. Participants with existing TIAA-CREF accounts will have a choice to keep their existing accounts at TIAA-CREF or transfer them to the new platform.

The University’s move to a single record keeper has been reviewed by the University Benefits Council, legal counsel, an independent investment advisor group, the President’s Council and the Board of Trustees. During the next eight months, Human Resources will provide opportunities for group and individual meetings to learn more about the changes, as well as additional information online.

In the meantime, your input is welcome as we continue to work with the Retirement Plans Advisory Council and Diversified Investment Advisors. Please send questions to benefitsu@smu.edu and a Benefits representative will contact you. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Paul W. Ludden
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Chris Casey
Vice President for Business and Finance


May 3, 2011|News|
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