Board of Trustees approve faculty severance packages

By Simon Isham–

Provost Shirley Willihnganz addressing the chamber.

Uof L’s Board of Trustees has approved the recently proposed Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, the university’s optional severance package strategy under which experienced professors are encouraged to retire and be relieved by more inexperienced instructors. This move is expected to save the university $2.5 million.

Provost Shirley Willihnganz said that the board received over 300 responses from interested faculty — about one fourth of the professors eligible for the package. The employees will have until May 1 to officially submit their applications. Until they have formally applied, the names of the professors who expressed interest will be kept anonymous.

“Faculty members are excited about this opportunity,” said this year’s board faculty trustee, Joe Steffen, an associate professor of biology who also serves on the Personnel Committee.

The university maintains that they are committed to filling the faculty positions; however, Director of Media Relations Mark Hebert said that “there’s going to have to be some reengineering.”

The positions would be filled with new or existing staff members who may be younger and willing to accept less money than their more experienced counterparts, but the administration does not see this change affecting students or their classes.

While the severance packages are voluntary resignations, all current faculty who accept the terms would still be invited to come back on contract or teach part time.  “We want to keep the faculty, we want to keep the family,” said Hebert.

The board also announced their intention to keep other faculty on board, voting to extend the appointments of School of Dentistry Dean John Sauk and Kent School of Social Work Dean Terry Singer.

In addition, they approved the appointment of Carolyn M. Callahan as the dean of the School of Business. Callahan is the first African-American and the first woman to hold a senior management position at U of L’s business school. She is expected to take office on or before July 1, 2014.

Another employee program announced and approved at the meeting was one to allow faculty and staff to take one day off per year to do community service. Employees would need to give their supervisors advance notice of their intentions to take leave, and their supervisors would need to approve the time off.

In other action, the board approved changes to Ekstrom Library and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in order to renovate the fourth floor of the library and to purchase a sound system for the arena. The board also welcomed a new trustee to the board, Douglas Hall.

The board met on March 7 in the Jefferson Room of Grawemeyer Hall at 1 p.m., following a meeting by the Personnel Committee. The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for April 18.

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Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

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