YOUNGSTOWN — The administration of Youngstown State University and the university’s Ohio Education Association have reached an agreement regarding a voluntary retirement program.
The memorandum of understanding, concluded last week, covers approximately 10 days of negotiations between the two entities. It also comes weeks after the faculty union received an email on September 1 from the Offices of Academic Affairs and Finance and Business Operations regarding possible scenarios if the university’s forecast of projected enrollment declines continues. to materialize.
Full-time tenure-track faculty members who opt into the severance program would receive 80% of their salary up to $100,000, with the lowest figure being around $54,000, Mark Vopat noted, YSU-OEA spokesperson.
For example, a professor earning $60,000 would receive $48,000 in two installments of $24,000 over about a year, he explained. Vopat added that creating the two-payment system would mean less tax burden for those who choose the option.
Vopat, who is also a professor of religious studies, was unable to say how many faculty members could be affected by the deal, although he mentioned that up to 15 at Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education, where he teaches, could be.
The package, however, will not affect speakers, who have one-year contracts, he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s a cost-cutting measure,” Vopat added.
A similar cost-cutting deal was brokered last year, except those who agreed to the buyout received 100% of their salary, Vopat recalled.
The 80% figure this time around is largely due to budget concerns and possible cuts, which could occur if YSU enrollment numbers continue to decline, a trend that has been occurring over the past few years. last years. The university’s budget is in the dark primarily due to the one-time $10.4 million received by YSU through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, noted Vopat.
Approximately 50% of these funds were used to help offset university expenses and reduce the likelihood of a deficit. The other half went to students as financial aid, YSU officials said.
The deadline for faculty to submit applications for buyout consideration is Oct. 3, and then the university will have four days to make a final decision, Vopat said, adding that some faculty members have already applied.
The YSU-OAS spokesperson said he was unhappy with the situation reoccurring this year. On the other hand, many union members believe this is the best outcome because those affected will have at least some level of financial security, he continued.
“It’s just less bad” in part because it could save other tenure-track positions at YSU, Vopat added.
The university relies on a 14-day registration to build its budget. For this fiscal year, the budget is based on a 4% decline in full-time equivalent enrollment, noted YSU spokesman Ron Cole.
Therefore, the university is continuing its efforts to use various initiatives, such as the review of academic programming and campus-wide staffing, to allow it to operate as efficiently as possible, Cole said.