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State universities pension board director will retire next year

The board that oversees Illinois state universities’ employees’ pension system is about to get an overhaul.

William Mabe, executive director of the State University Retirement System, will retire on March 31, and five of the 11 board members’ terms will expire next summer.

It’s not yet known whether the three incumbent trustees who are elected by Retirement System members will seek to retain their board seats, said SURS spokeswoman Beth Spencer. Their terms expire on June 17, 2015.

The other two members whose terms are expiring are appointed by the governor.

Two of the three elected incumbents, Jacqueline Berger and Antonio Vasquez, represent active, still-working state employees. The third, Mitchell Vogel, represents retired state employees.

The two gubernatorial appointees whose terms expire are Richard Figueroa and Peter Newell. Their terms expire on June 29, 2015.

SURS members will vote from April 1 to May 1 to fill the three board vacancies from among candidates that they (the members) nominate.

The board expects to hire a search firm at an Oct. 30 meeting to find a new executive director, and intends to choose the new leader by the time Mabe retires, a spokesman said.

SURS generated headlines this year when it had to fix a glitch in the state pension law that threatened to drastically cut university professors’ and other senior-level employees’ retirement benefits.

Mabe, 67, said in an interview Thursday that he could have stayed on for another three years, but chose to retire now to do other things with his life.

“I’ve been here for five years and I’ve stayed as long as I had planned to stay,” Mabe said. “The pension issue had nothing to do with it. It’s still lingering in the courts, and (the SURS leadership) did the heavy lifting we had to do. … I wanted to retire when that was completed and things were quiet.”