The Board of Trustees voted at its Oct. 1 meeting to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners of University employees beginning Jan. 1. In addition, children and same-sex domestic partners will have access to the same BGSU educational fee waiver and leave programs, such as sick leave and Family Medical Leave, as do employee spouses and dependent children.
The move brings BGSU in line with the majority of other Ohio universities and its peer institutions nationwide, said Rebecca Ferguson, assistant vice president for human resources. “To continue not offering benefits to domestic partners impacts our ability to attract and retain high-quality faculty and staff today and into the future,” Ferguson told the trustees in recommending the change.
The University’s Health, Wellness and Insurance Committee as well as the Faculty Senate and Administrative Staff Council had already supported offering health care benefits to domestic partners, saying it is in keeping with Bowling Green’s commitment to diversity and its Equal Opportunity Employment Policy.
To be eligible for domestic partner benefits, the couple must have been committed to an exclusive relationship and living together for at least six months. They must demonstrate financial interdependence through mortgages, leases, automobile ownership, bank and credit-card accounts and/or designation as a beneficiary in wills or life insurance policies. In addition, the same rule applies as with married couples: if the domestic partner’s employer offers an equivalent health care plan, the partner must enroll in that plan as his or her primary coverage.
The University expects about 15 domestic partners will be added to the University’s health care plans at a cost of about $80,000—compared to the estimated $750,000 increase anticipated from federally and state mandated addition of dependent children BSGU faces.
In other action, the trustees approved names for the campus’s two residence halls now under construction and expected to open in fall 2011.
Designed for freshmen, the residence at the site on Wooster Street formerly occupied by Rodgers Quadrangle will be known as Centennial Hall.
The second residence, at the corner of Thurstin Avenue and Ridge Street, is intended for sophomores. Its name will be Falcon Heights Hall, in commemoration of the name given to the temporary group of trailers used to house married veterans following World War II.
The board also approved a matching grant of $1.985 million from the National Science Foundation for the renovation of the heating and air conditioning system in the Physical Sciences Laboratory Building. The University’s match of $952,543 will be provided through the biennial allocation of state basic renovation funds.
The improvements will generate an estimated energy savings of $515,454 per year. The building has had significant problems with excessive temperature extremes and large thermal fluctuations, as well as vibrations caused by outdated exhaust fans.