Wright State offers faculty plans for voluntary separation agreements

Wright State University is planning 113 faculty cuts. Jim Noelker STAFF
Wright State University is planning 113 faculty cuts. Jim Noelker STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Wright State University trustees on Wednesday approved two voluntary exit plan options for faculty members facing retrenchment.

University president Sue Edwards asked the trustees to consider a voluntary option when they approved to cut up to 113 faculty positions in February to right-size the faculty to align with the school’s student enrollment.

Wright State has seen enrollment decreases over the last few years that has led to large revenue losses.

The two options faculty are being offered are:

--- Option A is the voluntary separation program open to faculty members with at least one year of service. As a bonus payout, to be paid in two installments in school year 2021 and school year, 2022, for faculty who have worked continuously at Wright State for between one and 19 years, the university would pay 2.5% of base salary for each year of continuous service.

For faculty who have worked 20 years or more, the university would pay 100% of their base salary. The maximum amount per person the university would pay is $200,000.

---Option B is for faculty who are eligible for retirement. The university said it would pay up to 100% of the faculty member’s base salary in an incentive if they retired by Dec. 31, 2021; 50% of base salary if the member retired by May 30, 2022; and 25% of their base salary if they retired by May 30, 2023. The maximum bonus incentive payout would be $200,000.

More benefits would be available if the faculty member retired by May 24.

All plans are also eligible for help from the university in paying for COBRA healthcare up to 18 months, a tuition waiver and some additional benefits, such as professor emeritus status.

The university is offering the options starting April 12 through May 25. Following this, the university will know how many positions it has to cut and faculty will be notified by June 30, according to the university.

“While such a plan is not a required component of retrenchment the request by President Edwards was seated in her desire to potentially reduce the total number of 113 faculty positions that would otherwise be retrenched,” said Tom Gunlock, chair of the board of trustees.

The university administration worked with the AAUP-WSU, Wright State’s faculty union, on the plan.

The two options are available for faculty in colleges that are facing retrenchment. The only Wright State colleges not facing cuts are the College of Nursing and Health, the Boonshoft School of Medicine and the School of Professional Psychology. Cuts will also not be made to the university’s Lake Campus.

The medical school and psychology school faculty are not part of the faculty union. Wright State’s Lake Campus in Mercer County has expanded enrollment, the university said, so no cuts were planned there. Wright State also forecasts an increased medical student enrollment.

Noeleen McIlvenna, president of the AAUP-WSU and a professor of American history, said she expected more response to these voluntary options than previous ones initiated by the university.

ExploreWright State trustees vote to move forward with faculty cuts

Under its labor agreement, the university has to review any union faculty member who wants to participate in the options. If the university denies their application, however, the university cannot involuntary lay that person off.

ExploreWright State cuts are part of plan to evolve

More than 600 people currently teach at the university, but not all of them are faculty members.

Bob Mihalek, a university spokesman, said several hundred faculty members will be eligible for either program. The option they select will be dependent upon their specific situation.

He added there was not a cap on the total university expenditure to offer the program. The total expenditure to implement the program will be impacted by the specific faculty members determined eligible and the selections they make within the program offering, he said.

Most of the cuts are expected to come from the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science and Mathematics, which also have large amounts of faculty in the Wright State faculty union.

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