The Board of Governors approved a transformation timeline and 30-day comment period for amendments to reduction-in-force rules and a proposed severance package schedule during their meeting on Wednesday.
Stephanie Taylor, vice president and general counsel, said that proposed amendments to BOG Rules 3.9 and 4.7 are intended to clarify and align the policies for classified staff and faculty respectively.
Aside from ensuring the policies follow legal requirements, the amendments for Rule 3.9 would clarify that those who opted for the voluntary work-time reduction program would not trigger a reduction-in-force, or RIF, and that severance does not have to be paid in installments.
University officials said that they are currently reviewing voluntary work-time reduction submissions from faculty and staff, and that those accepted will be notified no later than May 26.
“The purpose of these particular rule changes are clarification more than significant changes,” President E. Gordon Gee said during the meeting. “They are simply about making sure there’s clarity in what we’re doing as we move forward.”
Taylor said that this is the first time that the school has had to use Rule 4.7.
Faculty reductions may result in the termination of tenure, tenure-track, teaching-track or service-track faculty members’ appointments, according to the Rule.
Faculty in “programs of concern” will be evaluated on performance, seniority and knowledge and qualifications to determine if their appointment will be terminated.
One of the proposed amendments to Rule 4.7 asks to delete language that says that severance “should be equivalent to one year of the faculty member’s annual base pay” and replace it to say the amount offered would be “determined based on a schedule approved by the Board.”
Summaries of the proposed amendments can be found here.
Additionally, Taylor discussed the proposed Faculty and Classified Staff Severance Package Schedule, which is included in the 30-day public comment period. She recommended that tenure and tenure-track faculty whose appointments are terminated receive 12 weeks of their base salary in bi-weekly installments starting after May 9, 2024, when their appointment ends.
For teaching- and service-track faculty, the University recommends that severance would vary depending on years of service and range from two to eight weeks.
Severance packages for eligible classified staff will be based on the length of notice period, years of service, annual base salary and appointment length, according to Taylor.
Research-track, library-track and lecturer positions whose contracts are not renewed, with 60-days’ notice occurring around October for those with contracts ending on May 9, 2024, will not be offered severance, according to Taylor.
Some may be asked to stay at the University for their teach-out program with retention bonuses.
The 30-day comment period on the rules and proposed severance packages begins Thursday, May 22 and ends Friday, June 21 at 11:59 p.m. All public comments and the University’s edits must be posted 10 days before the Board votes on the final versions.
The BOG also approved the transformation timeline for faculty and staff reductions and program reviews, reductions and discontinuations.
Taylor prefaced to members of the Board and those in attendance that the timeline does not include program assessments that the Provost Office is currently conducting to determine programs of concern.
The approved transformation timeline establishes a schedule for program reviews, reduction or discontinuation and faculty and staff RIF plans.
Taylor said that they plan to finalize RIF plans by Oct. 16, the week that officials will meet individually with faculty and staff about reductions.
Amendments to Rules 4.7 and 3.9 and the faculty and classified staff severance package schedule will be voted for approval at the end of July, according to the timeline.