The Office of Regional Higher Education is working to complete an effort to lower budget costs at Ohio University’s five regional campuses by evaluating employment.
Last semester, about 100 employees were offered an early retirement incentive plan (ERIP) and 22 of them accepted it. By June 30, 14 regional faculty members and eight staff members will retire.
“We’ve been looking at the positions that have been vacated, anticipating whether or not we could fulfill those duties in other places," Executive Dean for Regional Higher Education Bill Willan said. "We preliminarily have identified 11 of the positions that we would not fill so approximately half."
The Office of Regional Higher Education is working through a process to replace necessary employees.
“We’re still at the early stages of identifying (who will be replaced)," Rosanna Howard, the director of operations and budget for regional campuses, said. "We’ve gone through an initial plan of what that looks like, but the deans are still accessing (needs) in the academic programs and also exploring opportunities of sharing across campuses."
The regional campuses already have faculty and staff members in shared positions, meaning those employees work at two or more campuses.
Each location also has OU one classrooms, which are designed for professors to teach multiple campuses and courses from one location, as well as online opportunities, Howard said.
One of the areas most affected by the early retirement plan is nursing; however, the specific make-up of employees who accepted the plan is still being confirmed.
“We did know that nursing’s one of our strongest programs, so we’ll be looking very carefully at how to replace and how many we would need to replace to keep the strength of the program,” Howard said.
With three Group I and 11 Group II faculty retiring, the process aims to replace employees in the most cost-effective way possible.
“Before they even offered the ERIP, they kind of had a sense of which faculty might need to be replaced if they were to take the early retirement incentive,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said in April.
Four administrative staff members and four classified staff members are participating in the early retirement incentive plan.
“We also have some administrative positions that are shared between campuses," Willan said. "For example, the budget manager for the Eastern and Zanesville campuses is one person. There are some backroom operations that we can combine."
Administrators are working to figure out which employees need to be replaced and where positions can be combined.
“We will certainly be able to see the complete results of it within a year and that will help shape our policy going forward,” Willan said.
The office is working closely with the vice president and provost and the chief financial officer in order to determine how the budget will be affected. They are trying to come up with a multi-year plan to improve the regional campuses’ financial situations.
“We will see some additional savings because the people that were in those positions were long serving and were at the top of the pay scale,” Willan said. “So we’ll see some savings because we’ll bring people in at a lower level.”
Although exact savings will not be known until new people are hired, the office preliminarily thinks regional campuses could see around $1.2 million in savings.