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UA decides against buyouts, considers retirement incentives

3/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Officials at The University of Akron (UA) announced this week they have decided against offering buyouts to employees in an effort to cut costs.

President Matthew Wilson made the announcement in an email to the UA community March 13.

He said the decision not to proceed with buyouts came after discussion among representatives of the administration, the University Council Talent Development and Human Resources Committee, the University Council Budget and Finance Committee, collective bargaining units on campus, and a risk management and advisory company.

“We looked at various scenarios and projections, and reached the conclusion that a widespread buyout program is premature,” Wilson said.

Instead, Wilson said plans are in the works to offer an incentive for full-time faculty to retire.

“Specific details are still in development, but a key element will be to approach retirement as a career transition, rather than termination,” Wilson said. “That means individual faculty members may be offered what have been termed ‘connection benefits,’ such as opportunities for teaching, research, service, administration, mentoring of students and others, depending on the needs of their units and the individual’s strengths and interests.”

He added that eligible faculty will be contacted individually beginning later this month.

“If sufficient savings cannot be secured through this process, we will need to pursue other measures with a goal of stabilizing university finances while supporting students, retaining quality, and working to avoid involuntary layoffs of any category of employee,” Wilson said.

The president also said UA will finish the current fiscal year within the UA Board of Trustees-approved budget.

“This is a direct result of strong collaborative efforts throughout the university to contain costs,” Wilson said. “I am grateful to all who are doing more with less. We still have a long way to go, but the fiscal discipline required by our circumstances will ultimately prove to be a source of strength. As peer institutions seek to shore up their own bottom lines by attempting to sell property or reduce payrolls, it becomes clear that challenging fiscal times are now the norm for Ohio’s public higher education system.”

He added that UA is seeing some positive trends in early enrollment data, reporting a 20 percent increase in seat deposits — confirmation fees that ensure students secure a seat in the entering freshman class — when compared to the same time last year.

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