Early retirement possible for 28 at Ivy Tech

The Herald-Times

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:27 pm, Tue Nov 26, 2013.
By Jon Blau 331-4266 | jblau@heraldt.com

As Ivy Tech looks to shed costs, about 10 percent of full-time staff at the Bloomington campus received email notices late last week telling them they are eligible for an early retirement program being considered by the state’s community college system.

The system  said it has notified about 700 employees statewide that their age plus their service time would make them eligible for a buyout plan — the sum of the two numbers being between 70 to 75 years. According to Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter, 28 employees on the Bloomington campus, out of about 200 total, received the email. The notice was sent out only to gauge interest in early retirement options and does not mean the employee will have to make a binding commitment to early retirement or that the college is officially offering those plans.

For some time, the community college has been arguing it needs more state funding to accommodate its workload — part of which is remediation for people coming from places in Indiana where college attainment levels are some of the lowest in the nation  — but funding has “lagged” behind, Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart said. Because of a lack of state funding, Ivy Tech said in its early retirement email that it will be forced to defer nearly $80 million in spending and not hire additional full-time faculty and academic advisers.

Whikehart, who himself is retiring from Ivy Tech Jan. 15, said he notified Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder of his decision to retire before the email notices went out to employees last week.

“There’s an irony. We are expected to grow, we are asked to offer more educational opportunities, but we are looking at cutting the people who facilitate that learning,” Whikehart said. “It’s a paradox.”

Of the 28 employees who received a notification, 17 are faculty and 10 are administration personnel, Fanter said. One hourly employee received the email. If implemented, retirements would take effect at the end of February for staff and administration and at the end of the spring 2014 term for faculty, according to the notice sent out by Ivy Tech.

The email said participation in an early retirement plan would be “completely voluntary,” with the goal of meeting “cost savings objectives” and to avoid “involuntary reductions in force.” Moreover, the college will be unable to expand programs because of equipment shortages, the email said, specifically pointing to nursing as a program that might have to be downsized statewide.

On the other hand, the Bloomington campus is planning to use the newly acquired Pain Real Estate building to house its nursing program, a plan Whikehart said should be unaffected by statewide funding issues.