Pomona College announced a voluntary early retirement plan (VERP) on Apr. 21 for eligible staff and faculty members. Administrators hope that the measure will reduce the college’s number of full-time employees, and cut down on labor costs.
“Consequently, it is clear that we will have to reduce these costs in order to avoid significant budget deficits in the coming years,” said President David Oxtoby in an e-mail to eligible faculty and staff, adding that expenses for employees accounted for more than half of the college’s budget.
The retirement program will be offered to all staff, non-tenure track, and non-tenured faculty 55 and older who have worked at the Claremont University Consortium for at least ten years. As an incentive, employees who sign on with the VERP will receive one year of their current salary, paid over 12 months or in a lump sum, and an additional $6,000 stipend to cover medical expenses over the next year. Participants will not be required to make use of their retirement funds until they choose to, and will be allowed to work elsewhere without affecting their compensation.
Approximately 80 Pomona employees are eligible to take part in the program, though it is uncertain how many of them will sign on. The administration is hopeful that if enough workers opt into the program, the college may be able to trim its labor budget and avoid more drastic cuts in the future.
“Many staff felt it was very generous, and they appreciate that possibility,” said Oxtoby. “Down the road, the goal is to have a somewhat smaller staff. The goal is to reduce staff numbers and to create some openings and allow people to move into them.”
The registration period opened on Monday and will last 45 days, with a final deadline of Jun. 11. After that point, the remaining workforce will be re-evaluated and restructured to ensure that Pomona is making the most of its staff.
The VERP is seen as a first step in the college’s effort to reduce its labor budget following endowment losses.
“The next step is looking at what are the overall results,” said treasurer Karen Sisson PO ’79. “Our hope for the program is that we can look forward to sufficient salary savings to avoid any additional reductions in the workforce.”
Pomona’s announcement comes a month after Claremont McKenna College unveiled its own early retirement program. There are currently only 20 CMC employees eligible for registration in their retirement program, which ends May 7.