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April 13, 2001

P&S Council endorses continuation of early retirement program

by Anne Krapfl
The Professional and Scientific Council April 4 endorsed the University Benefits Committee (UBC) recommendation to extend the current early retirement incentive three years, to June 30, 2005.

The P&S Council and benefits committee declined to support a Board of Regents, State of Iowa, proposal that would raise the minimum age and age-plus-service qualifications and reduce the amount of health and retirement benefits employees may select.

At its own April 3 meeting, UBC members agreed that a regents proposal for ERI after June 30, 2002, "is not a viable management tool" and should not be supported. The current program is scheduled to end June 30, 2002.

If the regents opt to discontinue the existing program then, the UBC recommends "grandfathering in" anyone eligible under the current program and at current incentives through June 30, 2005.

The regents have asked for feedback prior to their May 16-17 meeting, when they will discuss the ERI program. They must make a decision about the future of the program by June 30.

The regents propose age 59 as a minimum qualifying age for a new ERI, and an age-service combination of at least 80 years. The UBC is recommending a minimum qualifying age of 57 years with 15 years of employment at the university (the same as the current program).

Several council members expressed frustration at the lack of consistency in how the current ERI is administered across the university. Some departments grant early or phased retirement quite readily; others don't approve it for anyone.

"When it's applied inconsistently, it confounds the notion that the opportunity exists," said council member Tim Eggers, "when not all supervisors will sign off on it."

Human resource services director Carla Espinoza, who also serves as a liaison to the council, noted that an early retirement program is not an "entitlement," but rather an incentive for employees and a management tool "to encourage people to find new careers and encourage departments to re-tool and re-plan."

"Even without the ERI, we have one of the best retirement programs in the country," she added.

In other business, the council:
  • Announced council election results from last month. New council members will serve three-year terms, beginning at the council's June meeting. New electees, and their areas of representation, are: Kevin Kane, GIA Facility; Barry McCroskey, Vet Med; Lynne Mumm, ISURF; Teresa Peterson, Office of Biotechnology (academic and research); Kelly McCool, FPM; Dan Woodin, ADP (business and finance); Tim Eggers, field ag economist; James Patton, Webster County education director (Extension); Kevin Brown, news service (external affairs); Mark Nelson and Trevor Riedemann, Ames Lab (IPRT/Ames Lab); and Kurt Roberts, Education Talent Search (student affairs). Twenty-one percent of P&S employees voted in the election, compared to 19 percent a year ago.
  • Discussed preparing an online survey to gauge P&S staff reaction to several possibilities for achieving potential budget cuts in the next fiscal year (see story on page 1). In response to questions, Espinoza confirmed that managers have not been given deadlines for making decisions about staff or program cuts.
The council's next meeting begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 3, in the Memorial Union Pioneer Room. At a noon open forum in the same location, four P&S team recipients of student recruitment and retention grants this year will summarize their efforts and results.

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