May 23, 2017

New Webster program offers early retirement

Webster University has responded to the Faculty Senate survey in regards to the request for a retirement initiative program.

The new Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program was introduced Feb. 15. For eligible faculty and staff age 60 and older, the new program aims to provide more financial and insurance stability as they prepare for retirement.

Provost Julian Schuster said the announcement came shortly after the administration began receiving increased interest in a retirement incentive program.

“This is a completely voluntary program. This program is designed actually as a university’s gesture of the goodwill to the people who are contemplating retirement,” Schuster said. “So what we would like to do is to simply offer our employees, both faculty and the staff, an easier way to transition in their lives.”

The Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program contains two different plans – one for faculty and one for staff. Eligibility for each of these plans are based on age and years of employment at the university.

Chief Human Resources Officer Betsy Schmutz outlined the requirements in a letter sent to faculty and staff. To be eligible for the staff program, one must be at least 60 years of age with at least 15 years of employment, 65 years old with 10 years of employment or 70 with at least five years of employment. The faculty program requires at least 60 years old with 20 years of service, 65 with 15 years of service or 70 with at least 10 years of service.

The letter read “approved participants will receive a lumpsum payment equal to 50 percent of their annual full-time base compensation as of May 31, 2017 within 30 days of retirement [staff program] or May 15, 2017 within 30 days of retirement [faculty program].”

Also, if the member is not able to obtain Medicare at the time of retirement, the program will provide medical, dental and vision insurance until Medicare or another insurance plan becomes available.

Webster’s Human Resources department is hosting information sessions throughout the week of Feb. 15 to Feb. 24. Based on the program differences, faculty and staff will have separate sessions in order to answer questions appropriately.

According to Webster University’s Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin, meetings are going well and receiving positive feedback from interested faculty and staff. Giblin observed that employees came to the meetings with specific questions and concerns.

“One question we’ve heard in a number of variations is, ‘if I retire, will my child or my adopted child still be able to receive tuition remission?’” Giblin said. “So, people were coming to the meetings with very specific questions about ‘if I take this, how will it effect other things that I get from the university?’”

Schuster said one of the main goals for these meetings is to provide specific answers for those interested, but need help in the decision-making process.

“What they will take from these meetings are specifics. It is one thing when somebody reads something, it is another when they hear it,” Schuster said. “What we need to do at these meetings is answer the frequently asked questions in order to increase the understanding of the people who are contemplating [retiring].”

The last day for eligible faculty and staff to apply for the incentive program is April 15. Employees can locate details outlining the program under the faculty and staff tabs of the Webster University Connections website as well as in a mailed handout to eligible members homes.

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