The TRS Board of Trustees began the process of replacing Executive Director Ronnie Jung, who has announced his intent to retire as of July 1, 2011. Jung made the announcement at the Board’s previous meeting, and on Friday, June 18, the Board hired an executive search firm to help find suitable candidates for the position.

TCTA and other stakeholder groups have submitted suggestions for the criteria to be used in the search for the next executive director. In discussing possible qualifications, some suggested that candidates should have a strong financial background in the private sector.

Nanette Sissney, the newest employee representative on the Board (and a TCTA executive board member), encouraged the firm instead to keep the search as broad as possible, pointing out that many of the skills articulated by the Board and stakeholders required strong managerial and communications talents, which are not unique to private sector financial experts.

The Board hopes to have a replacement hired before the beginning of the next legislative session, which runs from January to May 2011. Jung will shepherd the new director through what promises to be a difficult session, given the state’s budget woes.

The TRS pension fund held $96 billion as of the end of March 2010. This represents a substantial increase over the 12-month period beginning in March 2009; the 35% return (a $25 billion increase) during that year is the highest return rate in the fund’s history. Though the fund’s trends are positive, there is much ground to be made up before any benefit increase for retirees would be possible.