MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University has reached more than half of its overall $15 million budget cut goal through its Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP) program offered to longtime employees earlier this year.
WVU Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said Monday 135 workers with more than 20 years of service at WVU took the early retirement option which will save the university $8.8 million. Most of those workers, 121, officially retire Tuesday, Dec. 31.
The early separation plan is part of a larger effort by WVU to keep tuition increases at or near the same level annually, Alsop said.
“Just like every business we’ve got to balance our budget,” Alsop said Monday. “We made a conscious decision that we were going to keep tuition as low as we could.”
The WVU Board of Governors approved a 1.5 percent tuition increase earlier this year, the lowest increase in 30 years, Alsop said.
“And because of that we had to cut some expenses and this was the way to do it,” he said.
Those employees who took WVU up on its offer get a full year’s salary in a lump sum payment. As mentioned, 121 of the 135 are retiring this week and will receive a full year’s salary. The other 14 opted for a June 30, 2020 retirement date. They’ll receive a half-year’s salary in a lump sum payment.
Alsop said there are about 25 workers retiring this week who will work the next two to three weeks to help WVU with the transition. He said there’s restructuring in some instances because the university is not filling the jobs of those who are retiring.
Alsop said there are currently no plans to offer early retirement again next year.
“It won’t be offered annually,” he said. “We hope it’s a one time thing that we needed to do to reset and make our budget cut. Obviously, it depends on state appropriations, recruitment and what we do from research. This was designed to give us what we needed to do over the next several years.”
In the end, there were 1,300 employees who had the ability to express an interest, 464 did. WVU made an offer to 174 of the 464 and 135 workers accepted.
WVU first announced the program last April.