UNL offers voluntary separation incentives to faculty

Picture 14.png

Some UNL faculty will be eligible to take early retirement under a pilot project described Sept. 10 to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program will offer one-year salary buyouts to tenured faculty members who are age 62 or older and have 10 or more years of service.

The proposal is significant in both opportunities for faculty to obtain flexibility with their retirement options and in potential cost-savings for the university, said Ellen Weissinger, interim senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. As many as 270 individuals, or 30 percent of UNL's tenured faculty, may be eligible to participate.

"Our most senior faculty are a tremendous resource for students and citizens, and they represent a wealth of accumulated expertise. It's important to acknowledge this." Weissinger said. "Senior faculty are the heart and soul of the institution, and many of these individuals have devoted their entire career to making UNL so successful. These are the professors who built the foundation for our advancements in teaching and research."

The budget flexibility created by saving on faculty salaries, though, is an important consideration.

"Since 2002, UNL has implemented a total of $34.7 million in budget reductions and eliminated 419 positions. We have very few options left," Weissinger said. "Our most important mission is to protect as many academic priorities as possible and position the university to serve Nebraskans a century from now.

"This program is designed to create greater budget flexibility as we move forward as a Big Ten institution. It provides the ability to allocate faculty resources for high-priority academic programs, areas of special interest to this generation of undergraduate students, and new opportunities for expanding research."

Some faculty have been asking for this program so that they can consider earlier retirement, Weissinger said.

Popular in business and industry as well, early-retirement programs in which faculty agree to give up their tenure rights are being adopted by several universities including University of Iowa and Iowa State, Arizona State, and others.

"Our program is a fair offer for faculty members, but also fair and cost-effective for the university," Weissinger said.

Under terms of the voluntary separation incentives, only tenured faculty age 62 or older at time of separation and who have completed at least 10 years of service are eligible. They have until Nov. 1 to make a decision and apply for consideration. Health care coverage will be the responsibility of the faculty member after their separation from the university. Federal law prohibits a mandatory retirement age for university faculty.

Sign-up for the program begins Sept. 15.

- Kelly Bartling

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/kvm