first_img 10Old room keys form a collage, which was inspired by Quincy House Master Deb Gehrke. The collage is on display in the House. After 15 months of construction and renovation, Old Quincy House is ready to welcome back students for the 2013-14 academic year.A first look at the recently completed “test project” in the House renewal initiative revealed a restored exterior, and an interior that has been fundamentally reconfigured to meet the changing needs of students and the rapidly shifting world in which they are learning.Beyond the physical improvements, the renewal of Old Quincy will enhance the interactions of the students, faculty, and tutors living there while reinvigorating House life, which is one of the most important aspects of learning at Harvard.“This is absolutely fantastic,” said Dean Michael D. Smith of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who led a sneak peek tour of Old Quincy today. “This space is incredibly comfortable, and it really draws you in. But if you look at the hallways, the rooms, it still has the feel of a typical Harvard House.”The highlight of the tour was the new, state-of-the-art “smart classroom.”  Situated in what was formerly basement storage space, the classroom is complete with video screens, tablets, mondo pads, cameras, and additional cutting-edge technology, as well as movable desks to encourage collaboration. Six Harvard faculty members will teach courses in the classroom this year.“The smart classroom is one of the best examples of how we deliberately reconfigured previously unused space to bolster the learning that happens in the House,” Smith said.New room configurations led to the creation of new study nooks and common spaces. The traditional vertical entries have been preserved, but new horizontal corridors allow tutors to have a closer connection to the students in their charge.All the wiring and plumbing infrastructure has been updated, and new spaces for meeting, studying, and musical performances have been created in the lower level. A new, fully furnished terrace lounge will provide a comfortable place to watch the big game, and opens to an outdoor patio.In keeping with Harvard’s commitment to sustainability, the renewal of Old Quincy was completed with a focus on preservation and energy efficiency. Better-insulated walls and windows will significantly cut the energy used to heat the building, and a water-retention tank will help to reduce waste by recycling rainwater for use in irrigation systems and toilets.“I am very excited to see how the students take over this space, use it, and make it their own,” Smith said.— Colin Manning, FAS Communications 8Interim Dean of Harvard College Donald Pfister (left), KieranTimberlake architect Stephen Kieran, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith inspect a student room. 2Deb Gehrke, Quincy House Master, shows House memorabilia outside a “smart classroom” as Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith and architect Stephen Kieran (far left) look on during a tour of the newly renovated Old Quincy House. 5Robert Doyle, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, demonstrates the features of a smart classroom as FAS Dean Michael D. Smith looks on. 3Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith (center, seated) and interim Dean of Harvard College Donald Pfister (right, standing) are pictured in the new lower-level multipurpose room. 7A view of the terrace that connects to the new multipurpose room at the renovated Old Quincy House. center_img 11Interim Dean of Harvard College Donald Pfister and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith in the newly created terrace at Old Quincy House. 4Architect Stephen Kieran from the firm KieranTimberlake, Quincy House Master Lee Gehrke, and Harvard College interim Dean Donald Pfister are seen in the new outdoor terrace. 9Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith and Harvard College interim Dean Donald Pfister in newly created study alcove. 6Quincy House Master Deb Gehrke shows off a study alcove outside a smart classroom to Donald Pfister, interim dean of Harvard College, and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 1The exterior of the newly renovated Old Quincy House. The two large trees in the foreground were preserved throughout 15 months of construction.last_img read more

first_imgDefined contribution (DC) plans—such as 401(k) plans—are now the dominant form of retirement plans for U.S. workers, yet 60 percent of all households have no retirement savings in a DC plan, and that poses retirement security challenges for low-earning households that rely on Social Security as their only source of retirement income.These and other findings are highlighted in a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report prepared for Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The report, titled “Retirement Security: Low Defined Contribution Savings May Pose Challenges”, focuses on recent trends in DC plan participation and savings, how much households could potentially save in DC plans over their working careers, and how key individual and employer decisions affect savings.GAO FindingsThe GAO analyzed household financial data from the Federal Reserve’s “2013 Survey of Consumer Finances”, the most recent data available, and found that most households (60 percent) have no DC plan savings, a 3 percent increase from 2007. When the GAO limited its analysis to working households—defined as households in which at least one person is working, but is not self-employed, and the head of household is between the ages of 25 and 64—it found that 34 percent of working households had neither a DC or defined benefit (DB) plan. For households age 55 and older, an estimated 29 percent had neither a DB plan nor a DC plan, and would need to rely on Social Security as their main or only source of retirement income.The good news is that 61 percent of working households have access to a DC plan, and when provided access to a plan, 86 percent of working households participated in the DC plan. The not-so-good news is that 39 percent of working households do not have access to a DC plan, either because their employer does not offer a plan or they are ineligible to participate.Low-earning and minority households have less access to DC plans compared to other income groups, which results in low DC plan participation and savings. The GAO found that about 35 percent of low-earning working households had access to a DC plan compared to 80 percent of high-earning working households. Among minority households, 35 percent of Hispanic households and 56 percent of Black households had access to a DC plan. But when given access to a plan, an estimated 64 percent of low-earning working households, 80 percent of Hispanic households, and 81 percent of Black households participated in the plan, compared to 95 percent of high-earning working households.As a result, low-earning and minority working households have much less retirement savings in a DC plan. Among working households, only 25 percent of low-earning households had savings in a DC plan, with an estimated median account savings of $10,400, compared to the 81 percent of high-earning households that had savings in a DC plan, with a median account savings of $201,500. Among Hispanic households, 31 percent had savings in a DC plan with an estimated median account savings of $18,900. And, for Black households, 47 percent had savings in a DC plan with an estimated median account savings of $16,400.The GAO report found that projected DC plan savings at retirement vary widely by earnings. Based on GAO projections, households on average would save enough in their DC plans over their working career to generate a monthly lifetime income of $2,970, but low-earning households would save enough to generate a monthly lifetime income of only $560. These low-earning households—especially the 35 percent who have no DC plan—are much more likely to rely on Social Security for the bulk of their retirement income.Ways to Raise DC Plan SavingsThe GAO report indicated that employers could help raise participation rates by sponsoring a DC plan if they do not currently sponsor a plan. And, employers that currently offer a plan could help raise participation rates by offering automatic enrollment—whereby individuals are automatically enrolled in the plan unless they opt out—and allowing for immediate eligibility and immediate vesting. Taking these steps would significantly increase the percentage of low-earning households with DC plan savings at retirement.Individuals could help increase their DC plan savings at retirement by participating in a plan if they are offered one at work, transferring or rolling over their DC plan assets to another tax-advantaged account upon leaving employment (rather than taking a distribution), and maximizing their employer match by contributing  the amount needed to receive their employer’s maximum matching contribution. The GAO report found that taking full advantage of the employer’s maximum matching contribution would increase DC plan savings at retirement by 31 percent for low-earning households.While taking these actions will help increase DC plan savings at retirement for low-earning households, many low-earning households will still have no DC savings at retirement, in part because low-earning households are the least able to save for retirement. That poses retirement security challenges for low-earning households as they are forced to rely on Social Security as their only source of retirement income.Implications for Credit UnionsThe GAO reports finding, that more than one-third of working households have neither a DC or DB plan, has significant implications for credit unions, as many of these households are credit union members. Following are actions credit unions can take to help their members ensure a more secure retirement.Offer a simplified employee pension (SEP) plan or a savings incentive match plan for employees of small employers (SIMPLE) IRA plan to small business members that do not currently offer a retirement plan for their employees.Educate members of the importance of transferring or rolling over their DC plan assets to another tax-advantaged account (such as a credit union IRA) when changing jobs, rather than cashing out the plan.Offer a no-fee IRA with a low-minimum balance requirement to help low-earning households that may not have access to a DC plan at work to save for retirement.Make a payroll deduction option available to help members save for retirement on a regular basis.The GAO report makes no specific recommendations—but its finding that most households have no DC plan access and that low-earning and minority households have much less retirement savings in a DC plan compared to higher-earning households—is certain to draw increasing scrutiny on the cost and effectiveness of retirement savings tax incentives as Congress prepares for comprehensive tax reform. 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dennis Zuehlke Dennis is Compliance Manager for Ascensus. Mr. Zuehlke provides clients with technical support on tax-advantaged accounts (including individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, simplified employee pension plans, and Coverdell education … Web: www.ascensus.com Detailslast_img read more

first_imgMarketers in Liberia have been urged to be steadfast and step up to the plate in boosting the economy in the awake of the prevailing Ebola crisis affecting the sub-region.Making the plea for marketers, particularly women, Charles Naiwah, program manager of Foundation for Women (FFW), urged marketers to rise up above the deadly foe of Ebola and properly manage the business sector for the development of their nation.  Addressing the marketers yesterday, he encouraged Liberian women to be courageous in these trying times of the national economy, adding; “Don’t let Ebola put you out of business.“Let’s be serious in the fight against this virus in order to make our businesses stronger,” the FFW manager indicated.Relative to the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, the micro-finance organization called on residents of Liberia, particularly market women, to understand the fact that “Ebola is real and has no remedy, but early treatment can reduce the risk of death. Don’t hide any sick or dead person, he admonished, urging them to report to the health authorities anything that looks like the virus.”Control the children who  remain at home to avoid coming in contact with strangers.”It’s better to be selfish and remain alive than to be generous and get killed at the hands of Ebola.  That is why we have come to identify with you people in these communities today.”We’re partners; so Ebola will not make us fall apart. Our partners met and raised some resources to procure awareness materials and preventive gears for you in order to contain the spread of the virus. We will not sit back and allow our members to fight the virus alone.  We are with you every step of the way. We want our borrowers to fight the disease face-to-face in an effort to kick the virus out of Liberia,” Naiwah asserted.FFW made the call when the local organization that is operating in 14 of Liberia’s 15 political subdivisions  presented scores of anti-Ebola materials for 37 market women from three communities. The micro finance organization described the donation as “arms and ammunitions in the combat against Ebola.”Receiving the items on behalf of the three groups, leaders of the market women expressed their appreciation to the FFW family for the gesture.In separate statements, Madams Vera Tweh of Airfield, Emma Ricks of Catholic Junction and Marlyn Davis of Old Road Communities described the donations as “a  positive step in battling the deadly Ebola virus.””A friend in bad times is truly a real friend indeed,” Madam Davis said.She pledged her women’s organization’s fullest corporation in the national fight against Ebola, pledging,  “The materials will be used for the intended purpose.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more