University sets aside millions for professor incentives

USF will now offer’incentives to professors who are on the fence about’retirement – incentives in the form of $2 million.

An early retirement’program – offered to’professors who have provided’10 or more years of’continuous service – has been established to ease’university-wide budget cuts, said Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith.

The program will offer lump sum payments to professors who are active on a semester and yearly basis. Professors teaching on a semester basis will receive nine month’s salary multiplied by 1.33. Those who teach on a’year-long basis will receive a year’s salary multiplied by’.818 and then by 1.33,’according to the USF Early Retirement Incentive Program Description Guide given to’faculty.

Smith said the incentives will be offered on a ‘first-come, first-serve’ basis, and faculty members will also receive an additional $5,000 and compensation for any unused’sick days.

‘When the budget crunch hit, this was one strategy we could utilize,’ Smith said. ‘It has the potential to help us with layoffs.’

Smith said there are two components to the USF’budget.

The first’ is the recurring’budget, he said. The second is comprised of cash reserves, where’funding will come from for the’early retirement incentive program. USF has about $2 million set aside for the program.

The state cut $28.6 million in general revenue from USF in May, and state lawmakers have said this year that allocations to state universities could be cut in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Larry Leslie, an associate’professor emeritus in the School of Mass Communications, said addressing budget issues is not just a USF problem; it’s a Florida Legislature problem.

‘This is a Band-Aid issue,’ Leslie said. ‘What Florida needs to do is look at education in the long term and not the short … I believe when you lose experienced faculty’members to retirement ‘hellip; you lose valuable experience and that takes a long time to replace.’

However, Smith said a new hire’s lack of experience will be replaced with an ‘infusion of new talent, insight and’perspectives.’

Sherman Dorn, professor of education and president of the United Faculty of Florida chapter at USF, said the buyouts provide a ‘win-win situation’ and will assist professors as they contemplate retirement.

The program will accept applications from March 15-17, and a seven-day withdrawal option will immediately follow. Applicants who are accepted into the plan should be notified by March 29, Smith said. At that point,’accepted faculty members can choose to either retire in May, August or December.

A retirement program exists now at USF, but no early’retirement incentive program is available.

‘People have given interest in it, and I’m glad we’re able to offer this,’ Smith said, ‘but time will tell how it works.’

Additional reporting by Kristina Heritage