- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - To save on salaries, tenured faculty at the University of Nebraska’s three undergraduate campuses are being offered incentives to retire early.

The deal is being offered to professors at the system’s Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney campuses, the Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1rM0B7q ). Faculty must be tenured, over 62 and have worked at the university for 10 years to qualify.

At the system’s Lincoln and Kearney campuses, the payout is 90 percent of a professor’s annual pay. At the Omaha campus, the payout will be a full year’s pay but will be capped at $90,000. Retirees are responsible for their own health insurance coverage after they leave.

About 30 percent, or 256, of the Lincoln school’s current faculty members are eligible. At Kearney, 40 employees qualify, and at Omaha, 98 could retire early. Those who want to take the buy-out have to let their campus know by Nov. 24.

University of Nebraska administration did not request or mandate the buyouts at all of its campuses, spokeswoman Melissa Lee said.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said there’s no financial goal or target number of faculty members, emphasizing the program is voluntary and that administrators offer it with mixed feelings.

“We see some colleagues that we’ll miss for sure, but on the other hand, we all retire at some point,” Perlman said.

The campus offered similar buyouts in 2010 and saved about $4 million with the program. It put about $1 million toward its budget and distributed the rest for new faculty on the tenure-track.

Ken Nickerson, faculty senate president at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the program may have the side effect of creating a “retirement lottery” system.

“Somebody who retired last year might feel put out that if they waited a year, this program would be available to them,” Nickerson said.

Bill Wozniak, a psychology professor at Kearney, said the buyout is a mixed bag, because it allows some faculty to move on but risks the loss of institutional knowledge at a campus.

“The hope is that faculty who might already be partially retired, or so called dead wood, would in fact take advantage of it and we can hire new more energetic faculty instead,” Wozniak said. “The consequence could be highly skilled and energetic faculty could be lost, but I think it evens out over time.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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