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Tuition assistance benefits revised to include same-sex domestic partners

May 22, 2008

Employees’ same-sex domestic partners, and the children of those domestic partners, will become eligible for Lewis & Clark’s tuition assistance benefits under a new policy adopted by Executive Council.

“We feel these changes will benefit the campus community significantly and make Lewis & Clark an even better place to work and teach,” said David Ellis, general counsel and the author of the revised policy. “Particularly in the area of benefits for same-sex partners, we now go beyond what is required by law—in a way that will make this a more inclusive, respectful campus community.”

The revised policy also lengthens the required continuous employment necessary for eligibility for tuition exchange programs with other institutions and for tuition reimbursement, and significantly raises tuition reimbursement dollar amounts for employees and employees’ spouses and domestic partners.

The changes in eligibility for tuition exchange attempt to address a serious imbalance that has developed between Lewis & Clark and other members of the Northwest Independent College Tuition Exchange consortium, such as Willamette and Whitman. The lengthened eligibility changes affect only those employees hired after September 1, 2008.

Whereas employees are now subject to only a one-year waiting period for their dependents to become eligible for tuition exchange or reimbursement, those hired after September 1 will be subject to a five-year waiting period. The one-year waiting period for the Lewis & Clark tuition waiver remains unchanged.

“We have been sending more dependents to those institutions in our Northwest Exchange than we have received from them, creating a serious imbalance,” Ellis explained. “It has reached the point where no member schools other than Willamette will currently accept Lewis & Clark dependents. We recently discovered that many of our peer institutions have longer waiting periods, and this change may help to alleviate this imbalance.”

Tuition reimbursement for employees and their spouses and domestic partners is currently capped at $1,000 annually. Under the new policy, that cap will rise by $1,000 each year until it reaches the $5,000 mark in 2011. The lifetime maximum will increase over that same period from the current $4,000 to $20,000.

For more details on tuition assistance benefits and eligibility, contact Rosslyn Nayer in the Provost Office at 7200.