July 1, 2003
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

EMU faculty union agrees on early retirement package

YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has entered into a memorandum of understanding related to the employee incentive plan (EIP), approved by the Board of Regents at its June 17 meeting.

A memorandum of understanding establishes an addendum to the existing contract and does not require a vote by union membership.

“We have already had inquiries into the plan,” said Dr. Paul Schollaert, provost and vice president for academic affairs at EMU. “Informational meetings will be forthcoming.”

The EIP will allow select eligible faculty members to take advantage of an early retirement package while enabling the University to realign faculty resources with strategic initiatives.

“This plan will provide EMU with the flexibility to match academic staffing to the strategic directions of the University and to strengthen programs in areas of need and opportunity,” said Schollaert.

The plan offers current full-time tenure and tenure track faculty with 19 years or more of service with EMU the opportunity to receive $60,000, plus applicable sick leave pay, divided into 60 monthly payments made to the participant’s Post Employment 403(b) account. The benefit would begin no sooner than two months and no later than four months after the participant’s elected exit date.

Exit dates are scheduled for Sept. 1, 2003, Jan. 15, 2004, or Sept. 1, 2004.

Although nearly 200 employees would be eligible, the University estimates only 84 are expected to take it, Schollaert said.

“While the University undoubtedly will lose some very strong faculty to early retirement, there are advantages to the program from the perspective of overall faculty quality,” said Schollaert. “Most of those opting for the plan are likely to retire over the next four years in any event. Given the serious economic problems facing nearly every public university in the nation, the market for entry level faculty should be very positive – there will be a window where we can attract good new faculty.”

Schollaert said that lecturers would fill all positions left vacant by those opting to take the plan until searches could be conducted, as per the normal process when a faculty member retires.

“Academic quality will not suffer and no jobs will be lost. This plan simply accelerates our normal retirement number (about 21 per year) over a shorter period of time and gives those participating some financial advantages,” said Schollaert.

Schollaert said the advantage of implementing the EIP is flexibility for the institution to add faculty to areas of growth.

“As we develop and strengthen programs that advance our strategic objectives, we have a constant need to move personnel to areas of growth. For instance, the development of the new doctoral program included the addition of faculty positions in psychology. Changes in the general
education program, growth in off-campus offerings and changes recommended in program review require examination of staffing in different departments.”

Educators Preferred Corporation, located in Southfield, crafted the plan. Educators Preferred Corporation specializes in the structuring, implementation and administration of early buy-out severance plans.

Other institutions with similar plans include the University of West Virginia, Lake Michigan College, Mott Community College, Schoolcraft and Jackson Community Colleges. Fourteen other schools are currently considering similar plans; they include the University of Louisville, University of Tennessee, Marshall University and Ohio University.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive metropolitan university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.