About 100 Loyola tenured professors — full-time instructors with job security and research requirements — plan to accept a buyout from the university that would pay them two times their annual salary if they choose to retire at the end of the academic year, documents show.
The buyouts were offered — through a program called the Voluntary Transition Incentive Program — to about 200 tenured professors across university disciplines earlier this year to save money, address changing needs in the classroom and “show appreciation to faculty members,” according to the school, The Phoenix reported.
Some professors and students previously told The Phoenix they were worried about the program, specifically the seeming lack of a plan to replace faculty members who leave.
Loyola administration calculated cost savings “based on the assumption” that only 35 percent of the eligible faculty would take the buyout, but about 51 percent expressed formal interest, according to a document obtained by The Phoenix written by the Council of Deans, which meets every other week and is made up of all the deans and the interim provost.
Expressing formal interest means the professors told the university they were planning on participating, but can still change their minds before Nov. 22.
Benjamin Johnson, a Loyola history professor, is the President of Loyola’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an organization of professors that has been critical of the university’s administration in the past. Johnson said the administration could have done more research before the program was announced to better predict the number of professors retiring.
“I think that the way this is unfolding reflects the somewhat chaotic way that the plan was rolled out,” Johnson said.
When the program was announced earlier in the year, some professors were surprised by the program itself, the tone of the email which announced it and the seeming lack of a plan for the aftermath, The Phoenix reported.
If 51 percent of professors end up accepting the buyouts, Loyola is expected to save about $8.2 million by 2021 — about $2 million more than expected — the document shows.
These savings were calculated based on the assumption that the replacement for each retiring tenured professor will be paid less than the person they replaced, according to the document.
The document said deans are expected to work with Loyola’s provost — who manages the university’s academic operations — to hire the minimum amount of people necessary for the departments to meet students’ needs for the next two years. During that time, deans and the provost plan to hire professors to replace the rest of the positions for the following years, according to the document.
Margaret Callahan, Loyola’s acting provost and chief academic officer, refused to comment or meet with The Phoenix until after the official deadline.
If more than 50 percent of people in a department take the buyout, some professors who plan to retire might have to keep teaching an extra semester, according to the document. It’s unclear if this is because the university miscalculated the number of people who would retire.
The Rev. Thomas Regan S.J., the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the graduate school, was involved in writing the document. He said he thinks most undergraduate students won’t feel the impact of the changes as much as graduate students who often work directly with professors on research and other projects.
On the other hand, Johnson said the turnover in professors could impact undergraduate students because they won’t be able to build long-term relationships with instructors. As departments employ fewer people, the shared work will “fall on fewer shoulders” which might impact professors whose jobs are already demanding, Johnson said.
Johnson also said the loss of tenured professors might cause fewer people to pursue graduate degrees at Loyola.
“Loyola has had a huge drop off in graduate enrollment anyway, and my fear is that this really is going to compound that because so many of the most experienced, most published, most distinguished and most skilled people are abruptly leaving,” Johnson said.
The number of masters and/or doctoral students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, Quinlan School of Business, School of Education and School of Social Work decreased from 2017 to 2018, according to Loyola’s fall 2018 enrollment statistics.
Regan said he’s confident the graduate school is “on top of restructuring committees” and has already started the hiring process.
Certain graduate and certification programs will be prioritized during the two-year rehiring process because they “have the greatest potential to maximize mission, diversity, research, student outcomes, and enrollment growth,” according to the document. Some of these programs include environmental science, healthcare administration, public service careers and business data analytics.
“I think it allows us to recalibrate a lot,” Regan said. “It’s not just humanities versus [science, technology, engineering and math], it gives us an opportunity to do a real analysis of where these faculty lines are.”
Regan said new professors might be “closer to the discipline” since they’ve recently graduated. New professors might also be more willing to teach online classes and use other innovative teaching methods, Regan said.