After Kansas University offered buyouts last month to 655 of its more than 4,800 faculty and staff members in Lawrence and Overland Park, 149 people are interested in accepting the offer.
About a quarter of the people who applied for the program were faculty, a quarter were unclassified staff and about half were university support staff, said Gavin Young, a spokesman for the KU provost’s office.
“It’s a complete mix,” he said.
People who are approved for the program will receive a lump-sum payment equal to one year’s salary, up to a maximum of $100,000.
Young said KU received a wide range of job titles applying for the program, from administrative assistants to full professors. He said 13 or 14 of the applications were from people making more than $100,000.
Generally, employees qualified for the program if they were 62 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, Young said.
Instead of being 62 or older, employees also could qualify if they had 85 points under the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Employees earn one point for every year of service and one point for each year of age.
In all, about 23 percent of the people offered were interested. Young said KU was hoping that about 20 to 30 percent of the eligible employees would apply. KU’s deans and vice provosts will review each application individually and will determine whether to approve them by June 1.
“The most important factor is there has to be a benefit to the university,” Young said, be it a financial benefit or an operational benefit.
Once the applications are approved, employees have until July 16 to decide whether to accept the package.
Theodore Wilson, a professor in KU’s history department, has worked for the university for 37 years but wasn’t eligible for the buyout because he’s already in a phased-retirement program.
“If I were eligible, I wouldn’t be interested in it,” he said.
Without including benefits, the one year’s salary wouldn’t have been enough, he said. In the phased-retirement program, faculty work less and take a corresponding reduction in pay. But the university keeps paying its contribution to an employee health care plan and to the employee’s retirement plan.
However, some faculty said they’ll keep on working, even with the early-retirement options.
“I never really thought about it,” said Nancy Kinnersley, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science who is eligible for the program but isn’t interested. “I’m having too much fun, and I don’t see any reason to quit.”