Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

June 26, 1997

Faculty early retirement plan decision expected next month

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg expects to announce in July whether Pitt will adopt a new early retirement plan for tenured faculty this year.

After five months of haggling over details of such a program, the Faculty Early Retirement Bonus Plan Committee delivered its final report to Nordenberg June 20.

The report recommends that Pitt adopt two plans:

* A window plan that would offer retiring faculty payments as much as 2.5 times their salaries.

* A phased-down employment plan that would allow faculty as young as 59, with 10 years' service, to reduce their workloads by half and receive two-thirds of their pay for a fixed number of years. Faculty would commit to retire at the end of that period, and would receive an additional bonus upon retiring.

For details of the proposed plans, see story on page 4.

The plans are intended to promote intellectual renewal and flexibility in reallocating academic resources by enticing older, higher-paid, tenured faculty members to retire earlier than they otherwise would. Since 1994, federal law has forbidden mandatory retirement ages for faculty.

Some 300 Pitt faculty members currently would be eligible for the proposed plans.

Outgoing University Senate President Keith McDuffie, who served on the Faculty Early Retirement Bonus Plan Committee, said faculty representatives on the committee initially argued for a permanent plan rather than a temporary one. "But the signals we were getting from the administration made it pretty clear that a permanent plan wasn't going to fly because of legal and financial concerns that they [administrators] had," McDuffie said.

Chancellor Nordenberg reiterated some of those concerns in his June 23 Campus Update letter to the University community.

Calling Pitt's current retirement program "comparatively generous," Nordenberg wrote that any supplemental retirement plans "can be justified only on the basis of their contribution to some other institutional need or opportunity. No such program can be implemented if it deprives the University of the flexibility that will be required to effectively face the future or if it cannot be accommodated within a current budget that already is stretched thin.

"Let me emphasize that this does not reflect a decision, or even an inclination, on my part not to approve such a program," the chancellor continued. "To the contrary, I have great respect for the individuals who have been involved in crafting this proposal, appreciate their efforts, and certainly will give their recommendation due consideration. However, it also is true that the committee's preferred alternative, to the best of my knowledge, would result in the 'richest' plan — in terms of institutional payments made to individual retirees — in American higher education. Proposed expenditures of that magnitude obviously need to be carefully examined.

"Such considerations will occupy my attention and that of my staff as we focus on this matter in the next few weeks. We should be in a position to advise you of a decision, after appropriate consultation with the Board [of Trustees'] budget committee, sometime next month."

Leave a Reply