Out with the old and in with the new. That seems to be the reasoning behind the “Tenured Faculty Voluntary Early Separation Program” distributed earlier this month by Dr. Orin Grossman, academic vice president.

This early retirement incentive program offers one year’s salary plus $20,000 for “transitional costs” and is open to all full-time tenured f saculty members between the ages of 63 and 68 who have been working at Fairfield University for at least 15 years.

“This is a ‘window’ plan and creates a window for people to give up their tenure,” said Grossman. “It gives people more time to plan and prepare for their retirement.”

Those who choose to accept the program will also receive the privileges of a retired professor which include access to recreational and all other university facilities, library card, bookstore discount, campus parking permits and tuition remission along with admission to any university events.

Connecticut and federal law requires the window retirement plan be open to everyone, including those who are 69 years or older.

“It’s not fair to start a plan with an age cap like that,” said Grossman. “The law requires that it is open to all but after a certain time the window closes.”

If a professor decides to retire next year without taking the Tenured Faculty Voluntary Early Separation Program, they will receive all the normal benefits of a retired professor but without the year’s salary and $20,000 in transitional money.

The early retirement plan does not provide medical insurance. However, the opportunity to buy it from the school is available.

“I didn’t want to give it (medical insurance) automatically because there are so many variables between needs of individuals,” said Grossman. “I felt that many would use the transitional cost monies for the insurance, if needed.”

Reactions towards the program from professors and students across campus have been mixed.

Dr. Leo O’Connor of the English Department dismissed the plan. “It’s crazy, they are trying to push people into retiring,” said O’Connor. “It is not at all an attractive proposal especially when you compare it to offers from other schools”.

O’Connor said he knew a fellow professor at the University of Indiana who received three years’ salary and full medical insurance for life.

Brian Ruell ’05 agreed with O’Connor. “I’m not in favor of the early retirement incentive,” he said. “I believe it puts a great deal of pressure on professors with tenure.”

“It is understandable that they want to reduce payroll by seeking the retirement of older professors,” O’Connor said. “However, this is such an enjoyable position that many people do not want to retire.”

Faculty members who have been notified of disciplinary hearings, collecting long-term disability benefits or on medical leaves of absence are not eligible to participate, a point O’Connor takes seriously.

“If you had health problems, you would be more inclined to retire,” said O’Connor. “But you are ineligible, it’s absolutely crazy”.

Michael Nolan ’05 favors the early retirement of professors and would like to see some new faces in the classroom.

“Some of them are obviously still around because they know what they’re doing,” said Nolan. “But some of them are outdated in their methods of teaching and are not in touch with how to keep our interest during classroom discussions.”

Dr. Lisa Newton of the philosophy department also supported the plan although she has no intention of retiring anytime soon. “It looks like a good deal for someone who wants to retire,” she said.

The Office of Human Resources will offer two retirement workshops in March for any interested faculty. A retirement counselor will be on hand to answer any questions about retirement, including investments and pension inquiries.

Faculty members interested in the Tenured Faculty Voluntary Early Separation Program must submit their written agreement and release during the first week of July prior to the academic year of separation. This agreement includes their termination of tenure and a release of all claims against the University.

Byron Kim ’05 understands the appeal of younger professors but sympathizes with the plight of the older professors.

“I think it’s a good idea because sometimes as teachers get older, they tend to lose their teaching ability as well and we need some fresh faces,” said Kim. “I would feel kind of bad because most of these professors have been around for a long time and this is the university’s thanks?”

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