Many universities sued in a recent string of 403(b) plan lawsuits are responding emphatically to criticism of their retirement plan management.
A response from Northwestern University characterized the claims as “baseless,” adding it will defend itself vigorously. “Northwestern has carefully managed its retirement plans … and the university will continue to do so,” Alan K. Cubbage, vice president resident for university relations, wrote in an e-mail.
Yale University has “a strong retirement plan fiduciary committee and processes in place to regularly review the performance and costs of the investment options offered,” wrote Michael Peel, Yale's vice president for human resources and administration.
Noting the suit against Yale alleges too many investments, some inferior investments and high plan administration costs, Mr. Peel added: “We believe that these allegations are without merit and, working with our legal team, we will be responding to these allegations and intend to oppose this suit vigorously.”
Cornell University “will vigorously defend against this litigation,” wrote John Carberry, a university spokesman. “Cornell University continues to responsibly manage its retirement plans for the greatest possible benefit to employees and retirees, and has been responsive to their interests in having a reasonable range of funds available.”
The University of Southern California “takes its responsibilities to help our plan participants secure a strong retirement very seriously,” wrote Carol Mauch Amir, USC senior vice president and general counsel. “We will vigorously defend the university against this lawsuit.”
New York University pledged to “litigate this case vigorously, and (we) expect to prevail,” university spokesman John Beckman wrote in an e-mail. “NYU takes seriously the welfare of our faculty and employees — very much including a dignified retirement — and the retirement plans offered to them are chosen and administered carefully and prudently.”
Other university representatives declined to comment directly on the lawsuits.
“Columbia is proud of the retirement benefits offered to its faculty and staff and takes its responsibility as a fiduciary seriously,” wrote Caroline Adelman, a spokeswoman for Columbia University.
“Duke provides a range of options that give employees flexibility in designing retirement plans to meet their individual needs,” wrote Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University's vice president for public affairs and government relations.
“These investments are reviewed and carefully managed in accord with federal law to provide low costs and good outcomes for our employees,” he added. “We will continue to commit to these guiding principles.”
Emory University defended its practice via an e-mail from spokeswoman Elaine Justice. “Through our retirement programs, we offer access to a range of investment options to provide flexibility in meeting individual needs and retirement goals,” she wrote. “We are committed to these principles and operate our retirement programs in accord with federal law.”
Reporters James Comtois and Meaghan Kilroy contributed to this story.