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OSU trustees may allow colleges to offer buyouts as early-retirement option

The Ohio State Board of Trustees later this week will discuss a system that would grant individual departments phased retirement options for faculty and staff.

“If approved, the program will offer flexibility for colleges and vice president units to proactively adjust their workforce to achieve positive economic and programmatic outcomes,” according to the Office of Human Resources website.

The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The discussion of phased retirement options is on Thursday’s agenda.

The programs are in early stages of development and not all details are known or have been transmitted to colleges.

“It’s something that will be evolving in the next weeks and months,” said Regina Langen, director of communications for the College of Engineering.

The program consists of two separate components, including phased retirement and separation incentives. Both are designed to ease the transition for new employees and those considering retirement.

“Separation incentives ease the transition out of the university through inducements, such as monetary support to cover gaps in salary and benefits. Phased retirement helps assist the timing of retirement for-eligible faculty and staff, ensuring a smooth transition of highly knowledgeable and skilled individuals,” according to the OHR website.

The programs are voluntary for faculty and staff. Colleges within the university do not have to accept programs if they feel it is not in the best interest of their school, according to the OHR website.

The proposed separation incentives would include a single payment of up to 12 months of salary in addition to payment for continued health coverage and dependent tuition coverage for a defined period.

The proposed phased retirement would be a one- or two-year program. Incentives would include working for 75 percent of the time for the first year while still receiving 100 percent pay with full benefits. The second year would have the employee work 50 percent of the year and be paid 75 percent with full benefits. Continued health coverage and dependent tuition coverage for a defined period would also be included, according to the Board of Trustees agenda.

Not any employee can get such incentives. Each college has to decide the criteria that will eventually be approved by the OHR and the Office of Legal Affairs. Only faculty and staff eligible to retire by the end of the phased period will be eligible for the phased retirement program.

The proposition for the programs, according to the Board of Trustees’ agenda, came about from the significant proportion of retirement-eligible employees. Thirty-nine percent of faculty are eligible to retire within five years, while 26 percent of regular staff are currently or will become eligible in five years.

Budgetary concerns and “flexibility in structuring the workforce” were also partially responsible for the programs, according to the OHR website.

Each school within the university must also decide what will be best for their department.

“At this point we’re non-committal, and we’ll see what is appropriate for our college,” said Tim Meager, director of finance and administration for Moritz College of Law.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting is a breakdown of all construction projects and costs from 2010, the expected expense for this year and OSU’s Global Gateway in China.

Repeated attempts to contact Larry Lewellen, vice president of Human Resources, went unreturned.


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