UPDATE: On June 16, the Bradford and Titusville regional campuses announced that they had reversed the decision to opt out of the Faculty Retirement Incentive Program. Eligible faculty at those campuses will now be permitted to participate if they desire.
By SUSAN JONES
Pitt on June 15, announced details of a voluntary retirement incentive program for faculty 65 and older who have worked at the University consecutively for 10 or more years, and said details would be coming soon for an early retirement program for staff members who are 59.5 and older.
The plans include a one-time financial incentive along with the ability to immediately access Pitt’s standard retirement benefits package, which includes health care and education benefits for spouse/domestic partner and dependents.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said at last week’s Senate Council meeting that the retirement incentives were in the works as part of the effort to offset significant costs related to Pitt’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faculty Retirement Incentive Program
Deans were given the option whether to participate in the program for faculty. The Schools of Nursing and Medicine opted out, along with the Bradford and Titusville campuses. Faculty in administrative positions, such as deans, campus presidents and department chairs, are not eligible for this program. Outside of those areas, the Faculty Retirement Incentive Program is available to:
Full-time tenured, tenure-stream and appointment-stream faculty
Faculty who are currently in a phased retirement (with a signed “transition to retirement” agreement in place)
Full-time faculty librarians
Eligible faculty were sent emails today and will be receiving additional detailed mailed to their home addresses. It was not announced how many people are eligible. Faculty members who want to participate in the plan must indicate their interest by July 1, 2020, and retire by Aug. 31 of this year.
The retirement package includes:
An incentive payment equal of 50 percent of the participant’s annual University base pay, less required tax withholdings, that will be paid in a lump sum by Sept. 30. The payment will be calculated on base pay as of Aug. 1.
Spouses or eligible domestic partners of faculty are eligible without regard to their age for retiree medical benefits at no cost up to age 65. Dependent children will be covered at no cost until age 26 or the date in which the faculty’s spouse turns 65, whichever comes earlier.
For full details, go to a FAQ on the provost’s website. Any questions can be directed to Steve Wisniewski, vice provost for Budget and Analytics, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Webinars will be conducted in both June and July to explain the retirement benefits and transition issues.
Faculty were last offered an early retirement incentive in 1998 — available to those who had worked at Pitt at least 12 years and were at least 60 years old, or if the sum of their ages and years of service totaled at least 85. Participants in the 1998 program received payment equal to 1.5 times their annual contract salary, but not exceeding $125,000. Payments were made over a 12-month period.
More than 40 percent of the 381 eligible tenured faculty members signed up for the plan. When the Board of Trustees approved the plan in October 1997, it also passed a resolution that it would not support another special early retirement plan in the future.
Staff Early Retirement Plan
The Office of Human Resources is still finalizing program details for the Staff Early Retirement Plan and will contact eligible individuals directly in the coming weeks. Details about the program will be shared on the Office of Human Resources’ website when eligible staff are notified.
Pitt last offered a voluntary early retirement package to 652 classified staff in 2012, which was driven by deep decreases in support from the state under Gov. Tom Corbett. Of those eligible, 52 percent accepted the package. Those eligible for the early retirement package had to be 59 or older and have completed 10 years of continuous full- or part-time employment. The package included a lump sum payment equal to six months of base pay minus tax withholdings, along with immediate eligibility for retiree medical coverage for themselves and family, instead of having to wait until age 62.
Those with questions about either program are urged to contact the Office of Human Resources.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 412-648-4294.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.