Thursday, March 12, 2015


We're in a rough spot up here in the Northwoods.  Let's just say the budget situation is less than ideal.

Yet pretty much every day, I'm reminded of what great colleagues I have here.  I was at a meeting yesterday.  We worked away, planned what we could despite budget concerns.  Someone had taken the lead on a course proposal, and did a great draft.  We refined it slightly, and passed it.  We know we need to work on our assessment protocols.  (There are two ways to look at this:  if we're not going to be here next year, why bother.  And on the off chance, let's be as compliant as possible, and maybe there will be pity.)  So someone else stepped up and offered to take the lead on revising those. 

(Around here, the assessment folks about three years ago said that we all needed X number of outcomes for each of our Y goals, with the idea that we'd do assessment every three years or so.  And then about a year ago, the assessment folks said, you're going to need to assess all outcomes every year, and suddenly what we need is not X outcomes, but X/3 outcomes, because otherwise it's just paperwork hell.  So we need to change that.  No doubt things will change again next year.  They always do.)

I got a lovely note from a colleague about how the work of a committee I chair has been helpful to him/her in this time of stress.

There's talk of possible early retirement incentives for some folks.  Supposedly, right now, the talk is that people over a certain age will be offered a chance to apply for early retirement with a bonus of 50% of a year's salary if they get it and take retirement by a date in summer.  The incentive means that if you're thinking of leaving anyway, a bonus to leave is good.  You can get a lower retirement here and get a different job.  Similarly, if you're on the verge of retiring anyway, you might take the bonus. 

I was talking with a colleague who's close to retirement in age (that is, nearing full Social Security and pension stuffs), and thinking about it, but is worried that even with the incentive, s/he can't quite afford to retire yet.  That's sad.  We'll lose a lot of institutional knowledge when these folks leave.

On the other hand, it's way, way better for someone to get an incentive and retire early rather than for us to lay off young faculty folks.


  1. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Wow, this sounds like a challenging situation. Are the budget problems related to your state, or are they due to enrollment changes (if you don't mind me asking)?

  2. I'm confused as to the benefit of retiring faculty early.

    In business, it (maybe) makes sense, since in business you pay senior people more. But generally with faculty your senior faculty are making less than your junior faculty, due to salary compression. So why retire the senior faculty, when you'll just have to hire new faculty and pay them tons more?

    Unless...well, are we just planning *not* to hire replacements? We're just going to "replace" the retired faculty with adjunct labor, or expect the faculty that remains to teach more classes?

  3. Anon, thanks for commenting. This is due primarily to state budget issues.

    Delagar, well, yes and no. Correct, people over a certain age will be given a chance to apply; the admin folks will try to figure out who to offer the incentives to that they can not replace without creating a huge hole. So, for example, in Underwater Basketweaving Education, a field where there are only two faculty members, and that's already cut to the bone, the senior person, now 60, won't be offered the incentives. In contrast, in History of Basketweaving, where there are five people, one very new, the 60 year old might well be offered an incentive, in hopes that the remaining four could (and would) carry on, and that might help the department not have to lay off the one untenured person in that area.

    A 50K salary position is a 100K cost, just about, when you consider health insurance, retirement, and such. So in the first year, that's a 25K savings. In the second year, it's a 100K savings. I imagine if you take 20 people, some of them in administration or business, the difference could add up a bit.

    And yes, this will hurt a lot for those who remain. But it will be better, I imagine, than laying off the younger folks.