UND to offer renewed faculty and staff voluntary separation incentives

 New program is a response to employee requests and not tied to budgetary concerns

2019-2021 biennium budget

UND’s administration has received a number of queries from faculty and staff members about the possibility of a new Voluntary Separation Incentive Program at UND. Today UND announced its intention to provide that opportunity to tenured faculty and staff members, effective Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The application period will end at 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. UND archival photo.

The University of North Dakota announced today that it will offer another limited-time Faculty and Staff Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP), following similar actions by other State agencies earlier this year and mounting inquiries from University employees.

UND had previously offered and granted separate VSIPs — one for tenured faculty and another for staff members — in early 2016, to offset anticipated state funding cuts and to maximize the University’s ability to fulfill its mission in the face of those reductions. The new VSIP is largely based on those respective 2016 tenured faculty and staff offerings.

While UND administrators anticipate there will be budgetary savings from a new round of voluntary separations, they stressed it’s not the catalyst for their decision.

“The significant pains that UND employees endured, to varying degrees, in 2016 and 2017, and the actions taken to overcome those difficult challenges have made us even stronger as we look ahead to new state revenue forecasts in the next biennium,” said Jed Shivers, UND vice president for finance and operations/chief operating officer.  “That said, our decision to offer new opportunities for voluntary separations is independent of state budgetary cycles, rather it’s a response to the wants and needs of many of our faculty and staff members – all of whom are fundamental assets of the University and have been critical to UND’s success over the years.”

The details

Earlier this year, the State of North Dakota, through its Office of Management and Budget (OMB), began offering a VSIP to State agencies, stressing that “Agencies [would] independently determine whether or not it is beneficial to offer the program to their employees.” That application period ran from July 9-Aug. 24, and according to media reports 269 state employees applied and 224 of those applications were accepted.

Since that time, UND’s administration has received a number of queries from faculty and staff members about a new VSIP at UND. Today’s announcement serves as UND’s intention to open an application period to tenured faculty and staff members, effective Monday, ­Dec. 3, 2018. The application period will end at 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

Letters to employees eligible to take part in the new VSIP will be sent between Nov. 28-30, and ND Human Resources will begin reviewing applications immediately upon receipt.

UND’s administration hopes the allotted time periods will provide tenured faculty and staff members time to carefully review and consider the program. Once all applications are submitted, the University will assess the potential impact of the applications on academic units, educational programs and other programmatic demands of the institution. Tenured faculty and staff members are not guaranteed participation in the plan, as all decisions to approve applicants will be entirely at the discretion of UND.

In exchange for separation from UND under the new VSIP, eligible faculty and staff members would receive certain incentive compensations, based on their annual base salary and completed years of service. All tenured faculty and staff members who meet minimum eligibility requirements as of Nov. 20, 2018, are invited to apply.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be a benefited staff or tenured faculty member.
  • Qualification under the “Rule of 65” (age plus total years of benefited employment in the North Dakota University System).
  • Tenured faculty or staff currently in a phased retirement are not eligible, nor are employees who have given written notice of their intent to retire or quit (as of Nov. 20, 2018).

The terms of the program require that approved applicants conclude their employment at UND by June 30, 2019.

Questions/feedback

Representatives from UND Human Resources will be at the next Provost Forum on Dec. 4, at 3:30 p.m., in Room 7 of the Education Building, to provide an overview of the program and application process.  Furthermore, UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo and Shivers will review the new VSIP application and approval process and answer questions at the next University Senate meeting on Thursday, Dec. 6, and with the University’s Staff Senate at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Employees who would like additional information can contact, Peggy Varberg, interim director of Human Resources and Payroll Services, at peggy.varberg@UND.edu.