Regents defer UI’s second retirement program


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AMES — The state Board of Regents on Thursday deferred action on the second UI Early Retirement Incentive Program, concerned the proposal may be too generous in comparison to other state institutions. The regents will use their telephonic meeting in March for further discussion of the proposal.

UI officials expect the first program, implemented in April 2009, will save $14 million universitywide. The second program is projected to save an additional $2 million.

The proposal would lower the age requirement from 57 to 55, opening it up to between 1,300 and 1,400 additional people.

Several regents expressed concern that the UI’s early retirement program may be too expansive, in part because it does not include a length of service requirement for participants.

“Hypothetically, you could have been hired yesterday at $100,000 a year and retire tomorrow” and still receive all the benefits, Regent Michael Gartner said.

The regents also questioned the significant differences in participant acceptance rates among the universities.

Officials from Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa reported accepting around 90 percent of faculty who asked to participate in the retirement program.

UI officials accepted only 59 percent of participants. The UI did not replace 149 of the 340 employees who retired early under that program.

Regent Ruth Harkin called for a more consistent retirement program across the universities, something she said the regents attempted to make clear the first time.

Gartner said UI officials should come back to the regents with a plan closer to that of the other universities and the state’s.

In this way, the UI won’t “further the impression in the state of Iowa that there is a Board of Regents, and there’s everybody else,” Gartner said. “Which I think is damaging to us in the eyes of our citizens and the eyes of the Legislature.”

But after the meeting, UI President Sally Mason maintained the UI’s first retirement program “worked very well.”

If the plan had been approved at Thursday’s meeting, UI officials said they had hoped to decide who would retire under the program by May 15.

But now, UI officials need to “work hard” before coming back in March to answer the regents’ questions, Regent President David Miles said.

“There was a reason it was pulled back off the table,” he said.

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