Quinnipiac looking to cut costs

Faculty offered buyout packages

Emily Flamme and Chatwan Mongkol

Quinnipiac will now offer faculty members the option to retire early through a voluntary separation program (VSP) to reduce university expenses as a response to COVID-19 and a declining student population.

The VSP allows tenured faculty members the option to retire early and receive semi-monthly payments, each worth six months of their base salary, according to an email sent to faculty members on May 15. To be eligible for the program, faculty in the School of Communications and School of Nursing need to have 15 years of service, while those in the School of Business and College of Arts and Sciences would need 20 years.

Full-time faculty members who are at least 55 years old with 10 years of service are eligible for phased faculty retirement. This option takes place over a two-year period and allows faculty members to slowly reduce their responsibilities until they fully transition into retirement. 

“This is happening to just about every university in the country — from the top tier to lower tier schools,” said Rich Hanley, an associate journalism professor. 

Molly Yanity, an associate journalism professor, said that Quinnipiac has managed to avoid the layoffs and program cuts that other universities have been experiencing. However, she speculates that this action provides an immediate solution..

“It is obvious how QU saves money with this kind of move, but I imagine it will go further, too,” Yanity said. “I imagine that when faculty members accept the early retirement, they will not be replaced. That means that either the remaining faculty will teach more classes, that class sizes will be larger or more adjunct instructors will be brought in to teach classes.”

Aileen Dever, an associate professor of modern languages, said she has not heard of anyone taking the buyout package yet because faculty are not ready to give up their roles on campus.

Working with wonderful young people and discussing ideas together is an honor and a privilege,” Dever said. “Fantastic students, a beautiful campus, lovely colleagues, an amazing library — what more can anyone ask for?”

Hanley said faculty members were notified before spring break that a buyout package would be available to them at the end of the semester.

This is a very calm response to ensure that students and the institution and the employees are taken into consideration at all points in the decision-making process.

— Rich Hanley

“The university had been planning it as a way to downgrade its payroll with the reality of enrollment,” Hanley said. “Colleges are doing this all over the place, and we were thinking of this sort of thing well before the pandemic.”

Hanley said that he has “worked at the top levels of global media,” and that in his experience his employers’ responses to financial issues were typically fueled with fear. He said that he appreciated how Quinnipiac has reacted to this financial struggle calmly. 

“Before I joined Quinnipiac, I was at major corporations, and I saw those folks panic all the time,” Hanley said. “This is not any panic whatsoever, this is a very calm response to ensure that students and the institution and the employees are taken into consideration at all points in the decision-making process. I’m actually quite impressed by it based on my experiences outside of academia.”