UNL to offer faculty voluntary separation incentives

UNL to offer faculty voluntary separation incentives

Some UNL faculty will be eligible to choose early retirement under a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program to be offered this fall.

Through this program, the university will offer partial salary buyouts to tenured faculty members who are 62 or older with at least 10 years of service within the University of Nebraska system.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced the program in a letter to faculty Oct. 1. In the letter, the chancellor said that the voluntary program would offer an incentive of 90 percent of a faculty member’s base salary in a cash payment upon separation from UNL.

“Faculty represent the most important asset of our institution and our most senior faculty embody an impressive accumulation of expertise and service,” Perlman wrote. “Based on the number of faculty who are of early and normal retirement age and the number of inquiries received, we know that many colleagues are considering retirement but are uncertain whether they can do so financially.”

The proposal is significant in both opportunities for faculty to obtain flexibility with their retirement options and in potential cost savings for the university. As many as 256 individuals, or 30 percent of UNL's tenured faculty, may be eligible to participate.

“Such programs attempt to balance two conflicting interests of the university: first, the interest to retain the accumulated wisdom and expertise of its senior faculty; and second, the interest of finding flexible dollars that allow us to hire the next generation of faculty,” Perlman wrote.

Sign-up for the program begins Oct. 6. Eligible faculty must inform the university if they are interested by Nov. 24. This time period is designed to give faculty time to carefully consider the program, and will also provide the university the certainty it needs to build future budgets.

“Our most experienced faculty have sustained UNL over the last four decades. This group created our steep trajectory, built our positive campus community and brought us into the Big Ten. Losing good friends will be bittersweet,” said Ellen Weissinger, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “At the same time, it will be great to welcome amazing new colleagues who will be excited to join UNL’s faculty.”

Under terms of the voluntary separation incentives, only tenured faculty 62 or older at time of separation and who have completed at least 10 years of service are eligible. 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.

UNL offered a voluntary VSIP program in 2010, in which tenured faculty could retire and receive one year’s full salary as an incentive. The program helped several faculty members who were ready to retire to be able to do so, Perlman said. At the same time, it provided the budget flexibility created by saving on faculty salaries to allocate faculty resources toward high-priority academic programs, areas of special interest to contemporary undergraduates and new opportunities for expanding research. In 2010, 77 faculty members took advantage of the voluntary VSIP.

Details of the 2014 plan are available at http://go.unl.edu/vsip2014.