One hundred forty-two Eastern Michigan University employees are set to retire from the university within the next year.
More than 600 employees were eligible for the offer. Of the 142 employees who accepted the buyout, there were 42 professors, 10 full-time lecturers, one athletic head coach (swimming team) and 21 administrative professionals including the director of the Student Center.
The plan offers employees their 2019 base salary in monthly payments over the course of five years. The plan also covers 100% of the employee’s current health, dental and vision premiums for three months following their exit date.
Faculty and full-time lecturers who took the buyout are set to exit Aug. 31 or Dec. 31. Other staff members are scheduled to exit on Sept. 30. Depending on their job position and the university’s operational needs, some employees may be asked to stay for up to a year beyond their elected exit date.
Tim White, who served as the aquatics coordinator at the REC/IM for the last 19 years, decided to take the buyout after contemplating it several years. White is set to retire on Sept. 30.
“They offered the buyout a couple of years ago, and I put in for it then,” White said. “20 minutes before it was finalized, I pulled my paperwork with the idea that there was too many things left outstanding and my leaving would affect too many students and athletes with the swimming teams and the dive team … This time when it came through, I had already been considering leaving just because I had become somewhat disenchanted with my job and what it took. The offer was there, I was looking at maybe retiring in 6 months or a year from now, anyhow, so for them to offer some other incentive, I might as well go ahead and do it.”
Eastern Michigan President James Smith said in a statement that nationwide drops in enrollment and the growing demand for new technology and online learning has left colleges and universities continuously changing how they serve students.
“The VERIP initiative is one step in our ongoing efforts to shape our future in the context of this ‘new normal,’” Smith wrote. “Some may understandably view these disruptions to higher education with concern and fear. I believe, however, that it is far more productive to view this opportunity with optimism. Change is inevitable and often exciting.”
Geoff Larcom, executive director of media relations, said the amount of savings that come from the program won’t be determined until after the university assess the effected positions and decides what the appropriate steps are in terms of consolidation or hiring replacements.