In an ongoing effort to save money while stabilizing its budget, Eastern Michigan University has announced a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Plan (VERIP) that will allow current employees to accept a payout and retire.
Faculty and staff were notified of the plan in early May and have until July 15, 2019 to make a decision. The plan is available to all full-time faculty and staff as long as they meet the retirement requirements detailed on the human resources website.
“The plan allows the University to continue to realign our workforce and provide the necessary resources to support ongoing investments in new academic programs and facilities and solidify the foundation for successful career paths for our students,” EMU Vice President of Human Resources David Turner said in a statement. “We are pleased that the details of the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Plan resulted from a collaborative campus-wide process involving our bargaining units, and I would like to thank them for their involvement and support.”
The plan offers eligible employees the equivalent of their 2019 base salary in monthly payments over the course of five years. However, the university has set a cap on the amount of money one can receive depending on his or her job position.
For faculty, athletic coaches and hourly administrative workers, the offer maxes out at $95,000. For campus police or faculty enrolled in the university’s phased retirement program, up to $65,000 is available. Full-time lecturers could receive up to $50,000, and clerical, secretarial and food and maintenance workers can receive up to $45,000.
The plan also covers 100 percent of the employee’s current health, dental and vision premiums for three months following the employee's exit date. Exit dates are scheduled for August 31, 2019 or Dec. 31, 2019 for faculty and full-time lecturers, and Sept. 30, 2019 for staff.
An alternative exit date may be determined for up to a year beyond the employees elected exit date based on the educational or operational needs of the university.
The amount of savings that come from the program will depend on the number of employees who participate, according to Geoff Larcom, executive director of media relations. Larcom also stated that the university would not be laying off employees as a result of the program.
In 2018 the university laid off 17 people and eliminated 42 open staff positions to help reduce a budget deficit between $4.5 and $5.5 million. The primary factor of the deficit was reported to be a decrease in credit hours taken by students, resulting in a 3.9 percent tuition hike for the 2017-18 school year.
The university has taken a number of other measures to stabilize the budget and pay for upgrades, including cutting four athletic programs to save $2.4 million. One of the programs cut was the women’s tennis program; however it was later reinstated after a lawsuit was filed stating that the university was in violation of Title IX.
The university has also turned to privatizing services on campus. In 2016, the university signed a 10-year contract with Chartwells to operate campus dining. The contract included an up-front payment of $5 million. In February of this year, it approved a five-year extension of the contract for $5.5 million.
In December of 2017, the university turned over its parking operations to LAZ Parking. The 35-year contract came with $55 million up front.
For more information on the VERIP, visit https://www.emich.edu/hr/benefits-wellness/retiring/verip.php