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December 8, 1994

'Phased in' early retirement plan to be drafted by Senate

The University Senate's benefits and welfare committee plans to draft, by September, a "phased-in" retirement plan through which faculty could incrementally reduce their workloads over a specific number of years — with no reduction in salary or benefits — in exchange for agreeing to retire at the end of that period.

Doing less work for the same compensation? If it sounds like an attractive deal, it's supposed to, Senate President James Holland told Faculty Assembly Dec. 6.

The proposed plan "would really be a tool to encourage (faculty) turnover so that the objectives of long-range planning can be met," Holland explained. The plan won't work unless it is attractive to faculty, he said.

Federal law forbidding mandatory retirement ages for faculty makes it difficult for academic units to meet goals of downsizing or of opening job slots for new professors, he noted.

The "phased-in" plan would be comparable to Pitt's former early retirement plans, except that the incentive would come prior to retirement rather than afterwards, said Herb Chesler, benefits and welfare committee chairperson.

Under current policy, faculty may reduce their workloads prior to retirement, but they must take a corresponding cut in salary and benefits. That arrangement gives them no financial incentive to retire early, said Chesler.

The "phased-in" plan may include a formula to take into account faculty members' years of service at the University as well as their ages, Holland said. Thus, a long-time Pitt professor might qualify for the plan even if he or she is younger than the traditional minimum retirement age of 62.

In other Assembly business, Chesler reported that the 18th and final draft of a faculty family medical leave policy has been submitted to Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor.

The policy calls for granting Pitt faculty paid time off from work for the birth or adoption of children or placement of foster children, as well as paid leave when serious illness strikes them or members of their immediate families. The proposal was written by a task force of faculty members and administrators representing Chesler's committee, various academic units, the Provost's office and the Provost's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns.

Since the task force first proposed the plan in September 1993, it has been reworked by Pitt lawyers and staff from the offices of the provost and Human Resources, Chesler said. A final version was sent to the Chancellor's office in early November, he said.

"I am told the policy must first go to the Council of Deans before it goes to the senior administration," Chesler said. "What will happen at the Council of Deans I do not know. I just hope that we don't end up shucking the whole thing and starting over from square one."

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 8

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