Recession Response
From President Fox

To:                   St. Lawrence Employees
From:              William L. Fox, President
Date:               March 31, 2010
Subject:          Early Retirement Incentive Program

Between late January and now, we have had several occasions to meet and discuss the financial challenges facing the University as a result of the recession, and I have written updates before and after the winter Board of Trustees meeting about our plans to assure a prudent budget.  You know that we will have fewer employees after July 1, 2010, than we have today. 
Many of you have suggested we develop a voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (“Program”) as a way to possibly lessen the need for involuntary separations.  My purpose in writing today is to share with you the program we have developed.  While I am hopeful that this program will induce some employees to retire early, I nonetheless expect that the University will still need to consider involuntary separations, but perhaps in a much smaller number.

Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP)
This Program is for eligible (full-time, benefits eligible) staff members only who will be at least age 55 and have at least 20 years of service, both on or before June 30, 2010.  (Each employee actually eligible to participate in the Program will receive notification of eligibility directly from Human Resources.)  At this time, we have excluded tenured and tenure-track faculty from volunteering for this opportunity because academic departments will not have adequate time to plan for such departures and preserve the students’ expectations for the academic year 2010-2011.  We also have excluded employees of North Country Public Radio, recognizing the general financial independence of the station.

The Program contemplates that those employees whose applications are accepted will retire from the University on June 30, 2010.  In some cases, it may be necessary to have someone remain at the University longer or separate a little sooner.  Those accepted for the Program will receive the following key benefits:

  1. a lump sum payment of two-thirds their annual salary to be paid at or about separation (generally June 30, 2010);
  2. those retiring under the Program before age 62 will be eligible for retiree health coverage in accordance with the terms of the group health plan currently applicable to them as if they retired at age 62;
  3. continued availability of tuition benefits and miscellaneous benefits such as Bookstore discount and athletic facility access as if they had retired at age 62;
  4. benefits through TIAA-CREF or Fidelity Investments under the University’s separately administered 403(b) retirement plans generally will be available upon separation of service, as long as the applicable requirements of those plans, any applicable investment documents, and the tax laws have been satisfied; and
  5. those employees who are vested in the frozen Supplemental Retirement Plan and are less than age 62 will be treated as if they remained employed by the University until age 62. 

To apply for the ERIP, eligible employees should inform their supervisor, in writing or by email, of their intention to apply (so that supervisors can plan accordingly), and then meet with a Human Resources representative to review the plan.  Detailed information about the Program and the forms will be made available to eligible employees beginning April 1 and they will have until May 21 to consider whether they want to apply for the Program. 

To participate, an eligible employee must complete and submit the necessary paperwork to Human Resources no later than May 21, 2010 at 4:30 p.m.  (An employee may submit the required paperwork sooner than May 21.)  Once this paperwork is submitted, an employee will still have 7 days to change his or her mind and revoke their request to participate.  However, at the end of the 7-day period following submission of these papers, the decision to participate will be irrevocable by the employee. To maintain core business functions, we may decline some applications.  Retirement dates typically will be set with your supervisor for a mutually agreeable day between June 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010, but the University reserves the right to stagger departure dates as late as May 31, 2011, based on its operational and/or business needs.

Advising
Human Resources staff will hold information meetings by appointment at mutually convenient times. To make an appointment with Human Resources staff, call 229-5596.

TIAA-CREF advisers will be on campus April 8 and 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and May 4, 5 and 6, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for consultation as well.  To schedule as appointment with TIAA-CREF staff, please call the Rochester office toll free at (877) 209-3144.
Fidelity Investments will be on campus for appointments on April 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.  To schedule as appointment with Fidelity Investments staff, please call the reservation line at (800)-642-7131.

Involuntary Separations
Even with the variety of personnel reduction and reorganization strategies we are planning or still considering, it likely will be necessary to have some involuntary separations, effective June 30, 2010.  We expect to announce any involuntary separations by June 1, 2010, after we know the net savings from Early Retirements, and any further cost reductions we are able to implement.

Conclusion
If you are eligible for the Early Retirement Incentive Program, I invite you to give careful consideration of this option and to ask questions of any and all who might help you make such an important decision.  I stress that your retirement under the Plan must be strictly voluntary.  If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at 229-5596.