August 19, 2018 | ° F

Buyout plan to swap old faculty with new

A new buyout plan proposed by the University this week looks to replace 300 senior faculty members in order to inject new blood into the classroom.

In a letter to the University community, University President Richard L. McCormick said although the program brings up costs, the program would save the school money. The buyout will replace senior faculty with junior appointees or leave the positions vacant.

McCormick said the program would also enable the University to reinvest its resources in new faculty members who work on the emerging boundaries of their disciplines and bring new expertise.

Vice President for Undergraduate Education Barry V. Qualls said new blood creates new ideas and leadership to address issues large and small.

"New people are fresh. They have very different points of view, they have a different education than those of us who have been here a good number of years, a different education means you see the world differently," he said. "People who were born during the world of the Beatles and people who were born during the world of Ronald Reagan are very different people."

As of June 30, 2010, eligible faculty must be full-time tenured faculty members, at least 65 years of age, must have at least 25 years of service to the University and be a member of the Alternate Benefit Program, according to a University Media Relations press release.

The University will provide each of the participating faculty members with either one lump-sum payment or two installments based on his or her years of service to the University and their salary as of July 1, 2010.

The program will be offered for a specified period of time and eligible faculty must decide to participate by May 15, 2010. Participating faculty will voluntarily relinquish their tenure and vacate their positions effective July 1, 2010, according to the release.

Participating faculty will receive about one week's pay for every year of service up to 25 years, as well as a two-and-a-half week's pay for every additional year of service.

Qualls said senior faculty provide students with contacts, experience and wisdom, which often complement the qualities students take into the classroom. Though, as departments age, they often risk stagnation.

"If you let a department get too old in terms of age demographics, I think it does have a sense of being less involved and doesn't speak to the current world as it might otherwise," he said.

But Qualls said faculty members are not forced to take the buyout, seeing as it is completely voluntary.

"I'm eligible. Nobody has said, ‘Take that and get out of here,'" said Qualls, a faculty member at the University for 39 years.

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip J. Furmanski said in a Star-Ledger article if 75 faculty members left and were all replaced, the University would save several millions of dollars each year.

The American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers Executive Director Patrick Nowlan said the local negotiated with the University during the development of the program. He said the program should be judged on an individual basis.

"It's only fair if the individual faculty member thinks it's going to be fair," he said. "Anybody considering retirement is probably going to look at the program and say, ‘Does it make sense for me, based on where the market is, how the retirement accounts are and what not.'"

Rutgers Business School senior Uri Kapilovich said professors should be judged individually, as some senior professors adapt as their field evolves.

"Older professors can definitely bring in something new too, in the sense that they've been around and they've seen the changes [in their field]," Kapilovich said.

Nowlan said the AAUP-AFT successfully pushed for the faculty of Newark and Camden campuses to be included in the program and opened it to non-tenured track faculty who meet all the other requirements.

School of Arts and Sciences junior James Pak said, in his experience, he prefers professors who have years of experience teaching since they have established techniques.

"I have had first-year professors, and the fact is they rarely have a strict curriculum that they are used to teaching," Pak said. "Because of that, it can be more difficult for both of us."

Ultimately, the University's ability to attract new faculty will test its ability to retain faculty.

"It depends on how long they intend to stay," Kapilovich said, adding that department turnover can dismay students because of the lack of continuity.

The adopted state budget in 2006 left the University with a $66 million shortfall in state funding, which compounded with mandatory cost increases rose to $80 million. The shortfall resulted in the cancellation of about 450 course sections and 185 layoffs or eliminated positions, according to a September 2006 University Media Relations press release.

Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 puts the University's appropriations $46.6 million lower than the original amount for the current fiscal year.

Greg Flynn

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