Kent State says buyouts could save $33 million

Regina Garcia Cano

VP says plan won’t hurt students

CLICK HERE to view a pdf of the executive summary for the university.

The university expects to save $33 million during the next eight years with a buyout plan offered to a group of more than 1,000 faculty and staff members.

Employees who have worked at Kent State for 15 or more years received a letter of eligibility for the University Employee Separation Plan last month. The program offers them the opportunity to leave the university with the promise of receiving a base payment deferred over eight years, plus an amount “equivalent to a portion of the employee’s accrued sick-leave pay.

Those who take advantage of the plan will leave June 30.

“It was primarily prompted by our budget situation and a desire to try to come up with a creative approach to dealing with what we recognized would be some personnel issues,” said Willis Walker, vice president for human resources and chief university counsel. “We didn’t want to go to furlough; we were trying to avoid laying people off.”

He said the university does not intend to cut services to students.

Yet according to the executive summary for the University Incentive Plan, only 95 of the 110 faculty members who are expected to leave will be replaced.

“In terms of what (the buyouts) would mean to students, probably very, very little,” said Tim Moerland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The courses will be covered by reassignments of people that are already on staff.”

In a few cases, the leaves will be replaced with temporary or part-time instructors.

But the most important loss is the experience the professors will take with them, Moerland said.

“In general, students might see slightly larger courses in the fall and (there) may be a little changing around in the availability of courses,” he said.

The university’s new budget model, Responsibility Center Management, also influenced the decision. RCM will go into effect July 1.

“This (the separation plan) actually might help with RCM decisions,” Walker said.

The decisions include laying off people or reassigning them.

Between 70 and 80 percent of the university’s budget is composed of salaries. If the university does not meet its budgetary numbers with the separation plan, the next step would be to cut people, Walker said.

Employees who opt for the buyouts would get paid from the salaries savings.

The university created the plan with the advice of Educators Preferred Corporation. Professors interested in the program will receive individual counseling to help determine whether the opportunity will benefit them.

Contact academics reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].