Jan. 20, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 10

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    Credit union expansion ahead, new president says

    Changes are in store for the University Staff Credit Union, according to its new president and chief executive officer, Lynne Davies. Previously executive vice president at the LaCrosse, Wisc., Community Credit Union, Davies joined the University staff in November.

    Davies is unabashedly enthusiastic about her new job. "This credit union has a great deal of potential, and it's going to grow and go places," she said. "Credit unions are great things. I'm a credit union fanatic because I believe in them -- it's more like a religion than a job."

    Davies said she plans to implement new services and expand the membership base of the credit union, beginning with services that are easy to start up and can be handled by the current staff. First of all, she would like to offer a Christmas Club, a savings plan that would allow members to put aside a small amount of money each month to withdraw during the holiday season to help pay for gifts and holiday festivities. Next, Davies said, she plans to offer Certificates of Deposit and Individual Retirement Accounts. "These are very simple, easy to handle, and they don't generate much paperwork," she said.

    Davies hopes to have an in-house computer system within the first quarter of 1994. The present system requires that everything be typed by hand, and most transactions generate multiple copies, creating too much paperwork, Davies said. A new system, she said "will do everything for us -- everything except make my coffee."

    Other areas Davies wants to tackle will require more time and greater effort. "We have numerous requests for checking accounts," she said. "Yes, we want to do it, but it's going to be a year to 18 months out. It's a very expensive venture -- the electronic processing of share drafts is very intricate and very expensive. First I have to know that there's going to be a market for it. I want to be sure that people are going to want to use this."

    The University Staff Credit Union currently has approximately 4,100 members and $6.6 million in assets. What's the difference between credit unions and banks? "A credit union is a democratically run cooperative," Davies explained. "The profits are returned to the owners, not to some stockholder. A member is not just another customer -- they own the place." The rates of return on investments, she added, are comparable to those at most banks.

    The credit union is located in the basement of the Administration Building, in Room 1A, and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Anyone employed by the University can join the credit union at any time. A one-time fee of $1 and a deposit of $25 are all that is required to become a member. The $25 constitutes one "share" in the cooperative. To keep an account active, a member must maintain at least one share, or $25, in the account, although that money is returned to the member when he or she closes the account.

    One of the easiest things members can do now, said Davies, is build a savings account with payroll deductions. All they have to do, she said, is sign a card authorizing the credit union to deduct a specified amount from each paycheck. "It's painless, and it's amazing how quickly it adds up," she said.

    Withdrawals can be made once a month, and after one year of membership, members can apply for signature loans and new-car and used-car loans.

    When asked why she came to the University, Davies answered readily. "The idea of a credit union that is open to change and growth is an incredible challenge to me," she said. "And secondly, I love Chicago. I've wanted to live here for 25 years. The combination was irresistible."

    -- Diana Steele