Retiring full-time faculty members elect to take part-time incentive program

As part of a plan to address budget concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent State offered a new program for full-time retiring faculty members to continue teaching as part-time employees. 

53 members across Kent State’s main campus and branch campuses took the Voluntary Transitional Opportunity (VTO) as part of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP). The VTO enables faculty to continue their teaching careers, as well as any research or grants, for up to three academic years. After each year, the VTO is assessed by each college’s academic unit administrator to determine if the faculty member is needed for the subsequent year. According to the Kent State Human Resources department, the VTO allows faculty to teach up to nine credit hours in the first academic year and six credit hours in the second and third years.

According to Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley, the program was recommended by president Todd Diacon, who saw its use at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tankersley said the process for hiring new faculty takes a year’s time, and this VTO helps retiring faculty members transition more slowly into retirement while the university seeks replacements. 

“We thought it would be a really good opportunity for us to create a new way to retire,” Tankersley said. “It benefits our faculty who are wanting more of a step down. This is their heart and soul to teach, their lifelong endeavor. To turn that off doesn’t feel good to a lot of people, and this allows them that gradual (transition). It’s also excellent for the university because we’ve got these incredible people who’ve dedicated their lives to this discipline and who will continue to teach as we’re making the transition to someone new.”

Vice President for Human Resources Jack Witt said the VTO was approved by Kent State University’s Board of Trustees, “as part of a comprehensive effort to address the significant budget shortfall created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” which included faculty members’ salaries and benefits. As part-time employees, those benefits would be offered on a year-to-year basis if that faculty member was needed for the next year in their department. The VTO was approved during the June 3 Board of Trustees meeting, which discussed the university’s budget shortfalls from the pandemic. 

Tankersley anticipates the VTO will be popular amongst full-time retiring faculty members, and if proven successful, could be further implemented in the future as part of the university’s retirement program.

 Contact Troy Pierson at [email protected].