Kansas University’s lack of domestic partner benefits was a very real problem for Judy Postmus, an assistant professor of social welfare.
She left KU in 2006 for a similar position at Rutgers University after her domestic partner of 25 years developed a chronic medical condition.
“One of my concerns was the fact that she wouldn’t have the opportunity to stop working to address that condition,” Postmus said.
Retention and recruitment of faculty members was one reason that KU’s university senate has unanimously adopted a policy that would extend new benefits to those with domestic partners, said John Stratton, university senate president. The proposal now goes to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little for her review.
Among the recommended changes:
• The university create a registry for employees with domestic partners at KU.
• Benefits and services not related to health insurance — but are presently available to spouses of employees — be made available to registered domestic partners, including bereavement and medical leave, faculty housing and parental leave.
• KU provide additional monetary compensation to KU employees with a registered domestic partner to defray the cost of health benefits.
That final step is necessary, Stratton said, because of regulations governing the state’s health care plan that don’t allow domestic partners to register for employee benefits.
The costs of the proposal are unknown, Stratton said, because an exact amount of the compensation hadn’t been determined. Also, he said, there are no good estimates as to how many KU employees would register under the plan.
Across the nation, 309 colleges and universities offer benefits to domestic partners, including public institutions in 30 states, according to a report from the KU task force on the issue.
Stratton said Gray-Little had met with the university senate this week and told them she was reviewing the report, but didn’t provide a timetable for a final decision.
It could help KU retain faculty like Postmus, who has gone on to found a new research Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers.
“It’s been a good move,” Postmus said. “I still cheer for the KU basketball team, though.”