Kansas University is offering buyouts to 540 of its more than 4,800 faculty and staff members on its Lawrence campus and Edwards campus in Overland Park.
In an email to the KU community on Monday afternoon, Provost Jeff Vitter outlined the voluntary separation program, which is open to 11.25 percent of employees.
Those who are approved for the program would receive a lump sum cash payment equal to one year’s base salary, up to a maximum of $100,000.
“The (program) is intended to prioritize our funding towards investment in the goals and strategies identified by the KU community in Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan,” Vitter said in the email.
Faculty, unclassified staff and university support staff are eligible for the buyout, provided they meet certain criteria.
Generally, employees would qualify if they were 62 years old or older at the time of their separation and had at least 10 years of service working for a Kansas Board of Regents institution or at the Kansas Board of Regents office, said Gavin Young, a spokesman for the provost’s office.
Instead of being 62 years old or older, employees also could qualify if they had 85 points under the KPERS retirement plan. Employees earn one point for every year of service and one point for each year of age.
Eligible employees must apply for approval. Young said the intent is to allow as many faculty and staff to participate as possible.
“Each application will be granted based on whether there’s a benefit to the university,” Young said.
The program was not established with a specific amount of savings in mind, he said.
Chris Crandall, professor of social psychology who is serving as president-elect of KU’s University Senate this year, said that from a university governance perspective, he’d rather see “carrots” — incentives for people to leave — than “sticks.”
“This looks like it’s all carrot, and they were trying to find people in those areas that the strategic plan didn’t see as a future strength,” Crandall said.
Administrators have few options to trim the size of tenured faculty members, he said.
He said some employees may balk at retiring while having to provide their own health insurance, Crandall said, before Medicare kicks in at age 65.
Employees can apply for the program through May 15, and must leave the university between July 24 and Dec. 31 to qualify.
A complete set of guidelines is available online at hr.ku.edu/vsip.