Adams looks to extend benefits to domestic partners of UGA employees

University of Georgia President Michael Adams is moving ahead to extend benefits to domestic partners of UGA employees so that it matches those offered to married spouses.

Adams said Wednesday he would like to provide voluntary benefits by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2013. That is when Adams will step down as president.

He has also asked Chancellor Hank Huckaby if current policy would permit UGA to extend health care benefits to domestic partners as well, stressing UGA would not use any state money to pay for it. Adams said he expects a response soon.

These steps follow Adams approving a proposal the University Council passed in September calling on the college to provide money to offer health insurance and voluntary benefits to unmarried partners.

The council is made up of faculty, administrators, students and staff who advise Adams on academics and other policy matters.

The plan benefits same-sex couples and couples of opposite sexes who have chosen not to be legally married, said Janet Frick, who chairs the council’s Human Resources Committee.

“I’m pleased to hear things are moving forward,” Frick said.

In a Nov. 7 letter to Huckaby, Adams explained the recommended changes.

He wrote that the cost of voluntary benefits plans will be paid entirely by the employee. He noted this benefit is already offered by other University System of Georgia colleges, including Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University. Voluntary benefits include dental, vision, accident insurance and supplemental life insurance.

“Unless otherwise directed, UGA intends to extend this eligibility to employees with domestic partners” just as other system colleges have done, Adams wrote.

Adams also sought guidance on health insurance and asked Huckaby if current State Board of Regents policy would allow UGA to “develop and fully fund a benefits package using non-state funds that matches the benefits and premiums currently granted to employees with spouses.”

The University Council previously said about 75 percent of UGA’s peer colleges and schools it aspires to be like offer these health insurance benefits. The list includes the University of Florida, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.