The Provost Office has tried to anticipate a number of questions and answers related to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. If you have a question you don't see here, please email email@example.com. Recurrent questions of a nonpersonal nature and the responses will be added to this page.
All eligible faculty considering this voluntary incentive program are strongly urged to consult an attorney. They also should consult with family, as well as their personal tax advisor.
Why is the university doing this?
The KU-Lawrence and Edwards campus budget requires an adjustment. All departments have been asked to resolve short-term budget issues. This program is an opportunity to allow us to have greater flexibility with strategic and financial decisions in the longer term.
Faculty nearing the end of their careers are often in a position to retire, but remain for a variety of personal and professional reasons. The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program allows administrators to offer tenured and tenure-track KU faculty incentives for an accelerated departure. The resulting faculty line may be eliminated, held open for future programmatic directions, or may be filled by new junior faculty.
In all cases the decisions to be made will prioritize the university's financial and strategic needs, which are in the best interest of the university community.
Why isn’t this available to more KU employees?
The program is designed to address a specific issue related to faculty and strategic educational programming. The award of tenure represents a substantial, long-term investment by the University in the career of a faculty member. The university has fewer options to gain cost savings related to tenured and tenure-track positions. We are offering the VSIP to tenure and tenure-track faculty to gain potential salary savings that can be applied to the recently announced budget cut, and to provide academic units the flexibility to invest in strategic priorities.
How can I learn about what my incentive payment would be?
Eligible faculty who are considering applying should request information about their specific base salary by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general the incentive payment is computed as annual base salary multiplied by a factor related to the faculty member's planned separation date (retirement) from KU.
Incentive Payment Percentage
May 31, 2019
June 30, 2019
December 31, 2019
May 31, 2020
June 30, 2020
The incentive payment is based on the faculty member’s salary as of October 5, 2018. Any VSIP payment will be subject to required payroll deductions, including applicable federal and state taxes and any other legally required deductions. Neither the faculty member nor KU will make mandatory retirement contributions on the incentive payment amount and the incentive payment amount cannot be used in the calculation for voluntary retirement plan contributions.
Base salary is the annual budgeted salary for the faculty member not including summer sessions, overloads, or other one-time payments; endowed or distinguished professor supplements; research or external funding; endowment income; or any other administrative payments.
Who is eligible?
Only tenured and tenure-track KU faculty members who will be 62 years old at the time of their retirement AND who have a minimum of 10 years of employment at a Kansas Board of Regents institution or office (according to Human Resource Management records) at the time of their retirement are eligible to apply for consideration. Faculty on approved long-term disability are not eligible. Faculty on phased retirement are not eligible. Retirees who have been rehired are not eligible.
Here are a handful of examples:
- Faculty Member A "FMA" is 60 years and 6 months old and has nine years of employment at KU when they fill out the application. FMA would not be eligible for the first term (May 31, 2019, or June 30, 2019) payout at 100% of salary, but would be eligible for the 70% of salary payout to retire on May 31 2020, or June 30, 2020.
- Faculty Member B "FMB" is 65 years old and has 15 years of employment with KU when they fill out the application. FMB would be eligible to apply for any of the three separation terms.
- Faculty Member C "FMC" is 62 years old at the time of application and will have 10 years of employment with KU in September 2019. FMC would not be eligible for the first term (May 31, 2019, or June 30, 2019) payout at 100%, but would be eligible for the 85% payout term to retire on December 31, 2019, or the 70% payout if they choose to retire on May 31, 2020, or June 30, 2020.
- Faculty Member D "FMD" is 64 years old at the time of application and has five years of employment at KU when they fill out the application. FMD would not be eligible for consideration because they would not be able to meet the years of employment requirement.
How did you pick those parameters?
Experience and outcomes from the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program of 2012 helped guide aspects of this program. Administrators reviewed current basic (unidentifiable) faculty demographic information (age and years of employment) to understand the impact such a program might have. Rigorous debate took place to select eligibility criteria, as well as set appropriate incentives and a time range that allowed faculty members to plan retirement in a thoughtful manner.
Deans were involved throughout the process.
What if I change my mind after I've returned my Notice of Retirement document?
You will be required to retire on that date, regardless of whether you choose to sign the Separation Agreement and Release document you receive later. Please consider your options carefully as deadlines are rigid and this step is binding.
You will be required to retire on your selected retirement date because the University and your department will be making a financial commitment to you, perhaps to the exclusion of another faculty member. Additionally, the University will need to begin planning to meet the academic and departmental needs prior to your actual retirement.
Potential participants are strongly urged to consult with an attorney. They are also encouraged to discuss this option with their family and personal tax advisor.
If you are accepted for the VSIP, the Notice of Retirement document you must return by Nov. 21 is binding and indicates the date you agree to leave university employment. Selected applicants who return the Notice of Retirement will later receive a Separation Agreement document. This document outlines the financial transaction that will take place at the time of separation. Failure to sign this document at the time of retirement will mean you revoke the payout, not that you refuse to retire.
Will you offer this program again In a few years?
No, we do not anticipate offering this VSIP program again. Much like the last time a voluntary separation program was offered in 2012, this program is structured to realize a specific opportunity.
Where can I have specific questions addressed?
If your questions are seeking more detail about the VSIP program, the dates, or deadlines, please email email@example.com
If you meet eligibility criteria and are interested in the impact that retirement will have on your benefits, please refer to the VSIP Retirement Benefits Information. If you have other benefits-related questions, please contact the Benefits Office of Human Resource Management at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why aren’t staff eligible?
We are offering the VSIP to tenured and tenure-track faculty to gain potential savings that can applied to the recently announced budget cut, and to provide academic units the flexibility to invest in strategic academic priorities.
Are Library faculty eligible?
Employees in KU Libraries who have a classification of “faculty” in the human resources system are eligible if they meet the additional tenure, age, and length of employment criteria.
How will this affect faculty not eligible or selected for the VSIP?
The VSIP is part of a larger budget cutting effort that includes looking for opportunities to reduce workloads by eliminating activities that do not support KU’s goals. New junior tenure-track faculty and non-tenure track faculty might also be hired to replace retiring faculty. As always, managing the teaching and research responsibilities of retiring faculty will be done at the unit level. KU’s stature as a world class research institution is tied to being able to provide faculty with opportunities to push the boundaries of knowledge. KU remains committed to ensuring excellence in scholarship through tenure-track faculty positions.
Long-serving, tenured faculty are often our most respected and valuable. Will losing them harm KU’s reputation and standing?
KU’s mission and strategic goals are the top priority, and all VSIP applications will be weighed against the best interest of the university community. A faculty member’s VSIP application could be denied if that departure would significantly weaken KU’s work in an academic or research area, or program accreditation.
Can faculty who participate get rehired to an adjunct or lecturer position?
VSIP participants will be eligible for rehire at KU or KU Med Center six months after their separation (retirement) date, but they may not be rehired in the same role, with the same responsibilities or title. Please see the University’s Retiree Rehire policy (http://policy.ku.edu/provost/retiree-rehire-policy) for additional conditions and restrictions that may apply.
Are participating faculty eligible to be hired for non-faculty positions on campus?
VSIP participants will be eligible for rehire at KU or KU Med Center six months after their separation (retirement) date. Please see the University’s Retiree Rehire policy (http://policy.ku.edu/provost/retiree-rehire-policy) for additional conditions and restrictions that may apply.
How was eligibility for the program determined?
Eligibility of faculty to apply for the VSIP was based upon a number of factors, including funding available to the university to offer this program, the faculty member’s length of service to the university, the faculty member’s age, and ensuring that the faculty member was eligible to retire under the Kansas Board of Regents’ retirement plan and had reached the minimum eligibility for at least partial Social Security benefits.
Additionally, while it is the intention of KU to allow as many eligible faculty as possible to participate in the VSIP, KU reserves the right to limit the total number of participants in order to preserve the viability of programs and services and the integrity of financial resources. We must be sure that the unit’s operational and accreditation needs are served so that each unit can achieve its strategic and organizational mission. Ultimately, the university needs to make certain that the needs and best interests of the university community are served.
Can I participate if I’ll be on sabbatical next year?
It depends. Sabbatical carries an expectation that a faculty member will return to campus for at least one academic year following the sabbatical term.
Tenured and tenure-track faculty who meet the eligibility criteria and who are currently on sabbatical may choose to participate if they can complete the post-sabbatical expectation. This choice may limit their separation date (retirement) options.
Eligible faculty who apply and are accepted for the VSIP and who submit their Notice of Retirement document would be ineligible to apply for sabbatical for the subsequent year.
I’ve already applied for retirement, am I eligible for this program?
If your retirement application has not yet been finalized, then you are eligible to participate in the VSIP. If your retirement application has been finalized, you are not eligible to participate.
Can I retire under this program and get a faculty job at another KBOR institution?
Yes. Other KBOR institutions or Kansas state agencies are not covered by the University’s six-month ban from rehiring. However, there are other important considerations that you may wish to consider, including KBOR’s guidance and the University’s Retiree Rehire policy.
If I want to participate but get denied, is there an appeal process?
Participation decisions will be made by Interim Provost Lejuez in consultation with deans and other KU leaders. Those decisions will be final.
Will participating affect eligibility for emeritus status?
VSIP participants are eligible for emeritus status as long as they meet the qualifications outlined in KU’s Emeritus Status policy, including “a minimum of ten years of full-time continuous service at the University of Kansas.”
If I'm accepted can I still use my vacation and sick leave?
Yes. Retirees are eligible for accrued sick leave and vacation leave payments due to an employee at the time of retirement per University policies, plans, and procedures. Click here for more information. Retirees will receive a payment for those compensable payments regardless of whether they execute the Separation Agreement.
What happens if I apply and am accepted, but then need to change my decision?
It depends. You can decide not to participate in the VSIP at any point in time, BUT once you sign and return the Notice of Retirement document (deadline November 22), your decision to retire is final. Participants cannot later revoke their retirement as the University will make decisions related to finances, academic services and staffing based upon this notice.
The Separation Agreement outlines the financial and legal terms of the arrangement, including a release of claims against the university, and is due on or within seven days after the retirement date. You can always choose not to sign the Separation Agreement. If you decide not to sign the Separation Agreement, you will not receive the incentive pay but will be treated as a retiree.
If I participate in the program will I still be eligible for the regular retiree benefits like email, parking, KU Library use, or ability to purchase KU Athletics tickets?
Yes. Individuals who successfully complete the retirement process whether or not they are part of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program are eligible for a variety of KU-related benefits. A complete list can be found on the Human Resource Management website.
I’m a clinical professor and I teach and take part in my department’s governance activities. Am I eligible for the VSIP?
No. The title of clinical professor is one of many held by unclassified academic staff. Unclassified academic staff are faculty-equivalent in that they often participate in instruction and many governance activities, however these positions, while eligible for promotion, are not tenured or tenure-track positions.
Additional examples of ineligible unclassified academic staff include job titles such as assistant research professor, associate research professor, research professor, instructor, assistant curator, associate curator, senior curator, assistant specialist, associate specialist, senior specialist, assistant scientist, associate scientist, senior scientist, assistant clinical professor, associate clinical professor or clinical professor. For complete information please visit the KU Policy Library entry on Unclassified Academic Staff Titles.
Some tenured and tenure-track faculty also have joint appointments in service or research units and have been awarded these additional titles. Those faculty who meet the eligibility criteria are still eligible for the VSIP.
If I turn in my application for VSIP earlier, can I find out my outcome earlier?
We are not able to notify applicants earlier than Nov. 2 regardless of when they submit their Notice of Interest form before the October 5, 2018, deadline. The program calendar is tied to employment law and the rules regarding the length of time employees must have to apply for the VSIP. The university intends to approve as many applications as possible, although all decisions will be made in the best interest of the university community.
If I am selected to take part in the program when do I finish my teaching responsibilities?
Selected individuals will be expected to complete instructional activities through the term that ends closest to their retirement date. Here are some examples:
- A faculty member who selects the May 31, or June 30, 2019, retirement date would teach (and complete other instructional tasks) through the Spring 2019 semester.
- A faculty member who selects the Dec. 31, 2019, retirement date would teach through the Fall 2019 semester.
- A faculty member who selects the May 31, or June 30, 2020, retirement date would teach through the Spring 2020 semester.
Can I direct the lump sum and/or my leave payouts into a tax-deferred retirement plan?
You can elect to direct some of your sick and/or annual leave payout into a voluntary retirement plan. You will not be able to include the VSIP lump sum payment amount in the calculation of your maximum deferral for voluntary retirement plan contributions. Once you elect to retire, either under the VSIP or regular retirement, the Benefits Office will ask you whether you would like to receive information about the maximum amount you can defer into the Kansas Board of Regents voluntary 403(b) retirement plan. The IRS provides maximum deferral information in late October/early November for the following calendar year. If you have further questions, please consult the Human Resource Management website or contact the Benefits Office by e-mail at email@example.com.