MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — More than 450 faculty and staff at West Virginia University with 20 years of experience or more have expressed an interest in taking advantage of a voluntary separation program being offered by the university, but not all of them will make the final cut.
WVU Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop told MetroNews Tuesday about a third of the original 1,300 employees advised of the option expressed an interest by last Friday’s deadline. He said a review will now begin of the specific jobs to see how many can be eliminated without adding costs.
“Our administrators will look through and see whether this is a position where if this person retires that there will be a significant cost savings, either a position elimination or a reorganization that will lead to savings,” Alsop said.
WVU is looking to cut between 100 to 150 jobs to save $14.8 million in next year’s budget. Officials came up with the savings amount after determining it wanted to keep tuition increases in future years around 1.5 percent.
Alsop said the target to eliminate a maximum of 150 positions is fairly firm. He said WVU will not make buyout offers that will cost the university money.
“With some of these 450, if this person were to retire and take the buyout, we would have to replace that position. So we’re just not giving money away in terms of buyout. There would have to be a savings,” Alsop said.
Those workers approved for the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP) program who choose the first exit date of Dec. 31, 2019, would be given one year’s pay. Employees who choose the second exit date option, June 30, 2020, would receive a lump-sum incentive payment of 50 percent of their annual base salary.
WVU hosted a couple town hall meetings in recent weeks to explain the process. Alsop said he thought university officials in the Department of Talent and Culture did a good job right-sizing expectations. He said WVU wants to hit its 150-position target and move on.
“We do think that over the course of the next several weeks, couple months, as each of the organizations look at this, we will be able to hit our goal of around 100 to 150,” Alsop said.
Meetings among department heads to determine the status of the positions have already started. Alsop said the operational and financial assessments will be completed by early September. He said offers will then be made to employees by the end of September. Those workers will have 45 days to consider the offer. If they accept, one of the exit dates will be chosen.
Alsop said there are no plans on repeating the process every year. He said WVU will have to learn to live within its means.
“We didn’t do this thinking we’re going to have to do this again in 12 or 18 months. Our goal was to pick a number that we think that’s going to help with our budget to sort of stabilize where we need to go with that perspective,” Alsop said.