The University of Puget Sound (“University”) is offering a Faculty Retirement Incentive Program (“Program”) to provide an opportunity for certain tenured faculty members to voluntarily retire and end their employment with the University as of June 30, 2023, in exchange for incentive retirement payments. This list of frequently asked questions aims to address questions you may have.
Please contact either Interim Provost Nick Kontogeorgopoulos (x3205, firstname.lastname@example.org) or AVP for Human Resources and Chief People Officer Nancy Nieraeth (x3116, email@example.com) regarding any additional questions you have.
- What is the Faculty Retirement Incentive Program? How does it work?
The University has approved a one-time offering of a Faculty Retirement Incentive Program. The Program allows eligible tenured faculty to receive an Incentive Retirement Payment and a Supplemental Incentive Payment if they elect to end employment through this Program on June 30, 2023. Participation is strictly voluntary and subject to acceptance by the University.
- Who is eligible? And what is being offered?
Tenured faculty are eligible if they meet the following criteria:
- Age. Attainment of age 59.5, by June 30, 2023; and
- Service. Attainment of 11 years of service with the University as of June 30, 2023.
Years of service are measured from your date of hire through June 30, 2023. Eligible employees who timely apply for the Program and whose applications are accepted by the University are eligible to receive an incentive lump sum payment (subject to tax withholding), made up of:
- Incentive Retirement Payment: An Incentive Retirement Payment of a year’s salary equal to your fiscal year base salary as specified on the faculty salary schedule for fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023); and
- Supplemental Incentive Payment: A Supplemental Incentive Payment of $8,796, based on the dollar amount of 12 months of active employee-only medical coverage in the University’s medical plan ($733 x 12).
The last day of employment for faculty members accepted into the program will be June 30, 2023. Participating tenured faculty members must sign a Participation Agreement and a Release by January 3, 2023, and also a second Release on or after June 30, 2023. The second Release must be received by the University between June 30, 2023, and July 8, 2023, in order to receive the lump sum payment. The lump sum payment will be made on the University’s next payroll period following receipt of the executed second Release, i.e., July 14, 2023 or July 31, 2023.
- Why is the University offering this program?
The University is offering this program because it helps the University more proactively plan for faculty transitions, gives faculty members options, and promotes the University’s long-term financial resilience. Offering eligible tenured faculty the option of obtaining additional financial support for voluntary retirement helps with this important life transition and it also helps the University to more proactively plan for transitions and the long-term needs of the University.
- Are only certain faculty members eligible to participate in the Program?
Yes. A faculty member must hold tenure, must be at least 59.5 years old, and must have at least 11 years of University service as of June 30, 2023. Age 59.5 is also the age which faculty members can begin withdrawing retirement benefits from the University’s 403(b) plan without penalty. Service is measured from your date of hire through June 30, 2023.
- Who cannot participate?
Tenured faculty members who do not meet the age and service requirements or who have already tendered their resignation or elected to retire under another retirement program on or before November 1, 2022, are not eligible to participate, including those who have elected Phased Retirement or Early Retirement and have been approved to participate in those programs.
Faculty members without tenure are also not eligible to participate.
- Are the early retirement and career change program and the phased retirement program operating this year?
The early retirement and career change program is available. The phased retirement program is available as a modified program: eligible faculty members may apply to participate at 50% FTE with either a 1-year or 2-year phased period commencing July 1, 2023, with a retirement date of either June 30, 2024 or June 30, 2025. Faculty who are eligible for the Phased Program have been contacted. Applications for the modified Phased Retirement Program are due January 3, 2023. For more information about either program, please contact the Office of the Provost at firstname.lastname@example.org or Human Resources at email@example.com.
- Will another Faculty Retirement Incentive Program be offered later?
There are no future voluntary retirement programs being considered at this time.
- What is the deadline for my decision?
You must make your decision and submit your executed Participation Agreement and Release to the University no later than January 3, 2023. Forms may be hand-delivered to the Office of the Provost, emailed (with high importance), or mailed (via certified mail), to:
Office: Jones 111
SUBJ: FRIP Participation Agreement
Mail: ATTN: FRIP Participation Agreement Reviewer
Office of the Provost
University of Puget Sound
1500 N. Warner St., #1001
Tacoma, WA 98416-1001
- When will I be notified if my application is accepted? How will I be notified?
Your participation in the Program must be accepted by the University. You will be notified of the status of your application by January 11, 2023. You will receive notification via email and U.S. mail.
- What do I need to do to receive my incentive payment? When will I get my payment?
To participate in the Program, you must return the Participation Agreement and Release (Exhibit B) to the University by January 3, 2023. You will be notified if your Participation Agreement is accepted by January 11, 2023.
Once your Agreement is accepted, you will need to sign and return a second Release (Exhibit C) dated as of your last date of employment, June 30, 2023. The executed second Release must be received by the University during the period June 30, 2023, through July 8, 2023. It must be executed by you on or after June 30, 2023. Upon the University’s receipt of the second Release, you will receive the lump sum incentive payments on the next regular payroll cycle of the University, i.e., July 14, 2023, or July 31, 2023.
- How will the Incentive Retirement Payment and Supplemental Incentive Payment be taxed?
Your Incentive Retirement Payment and Supplemental Incentive Payment will be taxed as income and will be subject to applicable tax withholding.
- If I timely submit my Participation Agreement and Release, am I guaranteed participation?
No. Your Participation Agreement must be accepted by the University. Factors to be considered by the University in evaluating your agreement to participate in the Program will include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- the teaching load and other University service requirements after June 30, 2023;
- the needs of the department/program, and the ability of the department/program to cover teaching assignments after June 30, 2023; and
- other applicable departmental and University financial and operational considerations.
Although there are no set limits on who or how many faculty members will be allowed to participate in the Program, the University reserves the right to limit participants.
When deciding between similarly situated faculty member(s), the University will first accept the voluntary retirement of the Faculty member with the highest number of points while retaining the faculty member(s) with the lower number of points until the business necessity or financial need is satisfied. A faculty member receives one point for each year of age and an additional point for each year of service.
- Can I appeal the decision if I elect to participate in the Program and I am turned down?
No. All decisions are final.
- If I elect to participate, can I change my mind later?
No. Your application is irrevocable once the revocation period has passed, subject only to acceptance by the university.
- If I elect to participate, am I eligible for education benefits?
Faculty will be eligible for education benefits in accordance with the terms of the University’s Education Benefits Policy.
- If I participate in the Program, would I be eligible for state unemployment benefits?
Since this program is a voluntary resignation of employment/retirement, you would not ordinarily be eligible for unemployment benefits. The University, however, does not make that determination. Please feel free to call the Employment Security Department at 833.572.8400 with questions.
- Will I remain eligible to participate in University’s benefit plans after June 30, 2023?
No. All benefits, with the exception of COBRA, will stop June 30, 2023, the end of the month you end your employment.
- Can I keep my health insurance through COBRA?
Yes. If you are enrolled in the University’s health insurance plan at the time your employment ends, you are eligible to keep your health insurance through COBRA for up to 18 months by continuing to pay your premiums and a small administrative fee. However, there is no requirement that you elect COBRA coverage, or that your Supplemental Incentive Payment be used to purchase medical coverage.
- How do I sign up for COBRA?
You will receive a COBRA packet mailed to your home address. It will include instructions and the deadline to sign up for coverage. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not receive the COBRA forms within 30 days following your end of employment on June 30, 2023.
- Can I port or convert my Puget Sound life/AD&D insurance to another policy following my retirement?
You may be eligible to convert or port basic life, supplemental life, and dependent life coverage. AD&D may be ported with life insurance coverage. Certain limitations and restrictions apply. For information on these options, contact email@example.com.
- Can I contribute my lump-sum incentive payment to my University retirement plans?
No. The incentive payments are not eligible for retirement contributions.
- What happens if I currently participate in the Health Care Flexible Spending Account?
You can continue your enrollment in the Health Care Flexible Spending Account through COBRA by making after-tax contributions through the end of the calendar year. Otherwise, you can use your FSA funds to pay for medical services that you incurred up to June 30, 2023.
- What happens to long-term disability coverage?
Long-term disability coverage will end on June 30, 2023.
- Will I be entitled to emeritus faculty benefits?
Yes, you will be entitled to customary emeritus faculty benefits (email access, library access, fitness center access, reduced cost access to certain events, and part-time teaching eligibility).