By Jan Worth-Nelson
In one of the first publicly visible moves to address its fiscal woes since the campus-wide “Strategic Transformation” process began last fall, the University of Michigan – Flint has rolled out a faculty buyout incentives plan paying up to a year’s salary with a $10,000 bonus.
The “2023 Faculty Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan” was announced last week.
The plan applies to any tenured, tenure-track and “non-adjunct” clinical faculty in all of the campus’s six schools and colleges who are eligible to retire as of December, 2023. To qualify, the combination of their age and years of employment at UM must add up to 80.
Excluded from the package are members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO), the union for non-tenure track faculty.
The chair of the UM — Flint Faculty Senate Council, Marilyn Filter, said she received a 30-minute notice of the package deal before it was released to the campus, and indicated the Faculty Senate Council was not consulted. While one faculty member provided EVM with a three-page memo appearing to be the official package (attached at the end of this article) others said they found out via a one-paragraph email Feb. 24 from Provost Sonja Feist-Price.
It offers three choices “designed to provide enhanced retirement options to part-time and full-time eligible faculty.” Eligible faculty could retire in June or August of this year, January of 2024, or June, 2024, with the biggest buyouts for those who depart sooner.
Those who select the 2023 option would receive a lump sum payment of a year’s salary in June.
Those retiring in January, 2024 would receive 75 percent of a year’s salary.
Those retiring in June, 2024 would receive 50 percent of their 12-month salary.
In all cases, retiring employees would receive a $10,000 lump sum payment, intended, the memo states, to “help offset the cost of university benefit plans after retirement, but faculty are free to use it for any purpose.”
Of UM – Flint’s 1000-plus employees, 494 are faculty, but they fall into several categories; fewer than half would be eligible for the plan assuming they meet other requirements. The total numbers, as of November, 2022, are as follows:
- 195 Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty (which includes 23 academic/administrators who are tenured faculty members and 1 emeritus faculty who is actively working)
- 228 Lecturers
- 8 LEO-GLAM (librarians, curators and archivists)
- 63 Clinical and adjunct clinical faculty
Full memo attached below.
In a response Tuesday from Robb King, UM – Flint director of marketing and communications, UM – Flint has declined to answer any of the followup questions submitted by EVM. . King stated, “We do not have additional information to add that isn’t already part of the handouts you have received about the Faculty Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan.”
Those questions were as follows. EVM will continue to attempt to find answers.
1. Why is this happening?
2. Who would have written up this memo? It appears that it was issued, as expected, through the HR office — are they the “responsible parties,” then, in the matter? That is, who are the spokespeople for it…who is speaking through the memo?
3. Would this plan have to have been approved by the Regents?
4. Do UMF administrators have a goal of how many voluntary retirements they hope to attract? How much could the UMF save through this program? How much does the UMF NEED to save on faculty salaries?
4. Can you tell us how much of the UMF yearly budget currently goes to pay faculty salaries?
5. Is this the first concrete cost-cutting strategy being rolled out within the Strategic Transformation process?
6. Is this announcement/plan consonant with recommendations of the Huron Consulting Group?
7. If this plan doesn’t yield enough takers, what might happen?
8. What other cost-cutting strategies are under consideration?
EVM Consulting Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at email@example.com.