ATHENS, Ga. — Next month, Sandra Gustavson of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business will end seven years of service as a trustee of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS).
For that service, Gustavson was honored Tuesday, May 16, by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents at its monthly meeting. Since 1999, Gustavson has helped manage and administer the Teachers Retirement System fund as the regents' only designated representative to the pension plan's 10-member board of trustees. Since 2004, she has served as the board's chairperson.
"It is my great pleasure to recognize today one of the bright stars of retirement planning and investment, Dr. Sandra Gustavson, who is ending seven years of service as a trustee of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia," said University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., during the ceremony acknowledging her service. "There is no question that our employees and indeed, every teacher in Georgia covered under TRS, have been very fortunate that Dr. Gustavson served on the Board of Trustees these past seven years."
"My time on the TRS board has provided considerable satisfaction, both professionally and personally," Gustavson said. "TRS is exceedingly strong financially and is run by talented staff committed to securing the retirements of Georgia's teachers for decades to come. It has been a privilege to be part of a system that makes such a positive difference for so many."
Gustavson is the Terry College's associate dean for faculty and administration and the Bradford McFadden Professor of Personal Financial Management. She joined UGA in 1981 as a faculty member in the college's top 5-ranked risk management and insurance program.
At various times, Gustavson has served on the TRS board's investment committee, joint management committee, and chaired the goals and objectives committee. She also helped form the board's first audit committee and has served on it since it was established three years ago.
"Everyone who is invested in the Teachers Retirement System owes Professor Gustavson an enormous debt of gratitude," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "She has served ably and represented the faculty and staff of the university system in an exemplary manner."
The retirement system achieved numerous milestones during Gustavson's time as a board trustee. TRS upgraded its pension technology systems, completely redesigned its website to allow members to conduct transactions online and calculate pension estimates, implemented a new customer service call center and initiated a statewide schedule of complimentary workshops and pre-retirement counseling sessions for members.
"We also conducted a study on asset allocation and implemented the results of the study in the plan's investment strategy," Gustavson said. "And early in my board service, we elected a new executive director, Jeffrey L. Ezell, who remains in that role today."
"During her seven years of service to the members of TRS, Dr. Gustavson has worked to safeguard their benefits and to ensure that the system remained both financially and actuarially sound," Ezell said. "She is a person of the highest integrity and has earned the respect not only of the TRS staff but also of her fellow TRS trustees. I for one will miss our conversations as well as her leadership on the Board."
TRS administers the fund from which teachers in the state's public schools, as well as many employees of the University System of Georgia, receive their retirement benefits. TRS manages the retirement accounts of about 230,000 active (non-retired) employees and pays a monthly benefit to about 68,000 retired members and survivors. TRS retiree payroll is in approximately $2.0 billion per year.