VSIP FAQs

The Provost Office has tried to anticipate a number of questions and answers related to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. If you have a question you don't see here, please email vsip@ku.edu. Recurrent questions of a nonpersonal nature and the responses will be added to this page.

All eligible staff and faculty considering this voluntary incentive program are strongly urged to consult an attorney. They also should consult with family, as well as their personal tax advisor.

Skip to the latest questions.

 

Why is the university doing this?

The financial impact of the COVID-19 has led to a significant revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year and it is anticipated the impact will continue into the FY 2021 fiscal year. The university leadership is exploring a number of cost-savings measures that can help the university operate long into the future. This program is an opportunity that allows the Lawrence and Edwards campuses to have greater flexibility with financial and strategic decisions.

Faculty and staff nearing the end of their careers are often in a position to retire, but remain for a variety of personal and professional reasons. The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program allows administrators to offer eligible employees incentives for an accelerated departure. The resulting faculty or staff line may be eliminated, held open for future or strategic programmatic directions, or, in the case of faculty lines, may be filled by new junior faculty.

In all cases the decisions will be prioritized based upon the university's financial and strategic needs, which are in the best interest of the university community.

 

How can I learn about what my incentive payment would be?

Eligible staff and faculty who are considering applying should request information about their specific base salary by emailing vsip@ku.edu.

In general, the incentive payment is a lump-sum cash payment of $100,000 or the participant’s FY 2021 budgeted annual base salary, whichever is lower.

Any VSIP payment will be subject to required payroll deductions, including applicable federal and state taxes and any other legally required deductions. Neither the employee nor KU will make mandatory retirement contributions on the incentive payment amount and the incentive payment amount cannot be used in the calculation for voluntary retirement plan contributions.

For faculty members, base salary is the annual budgeted salary not including summer sessions, overloads, or other one-time payments; endowed or distinguished professor supplements; research or external funding; endowment income; or any other administrative payments.

 

Who is eligible?

The VSIP is available only to eligible KU-Lawrence and Edwards Campus Faculty and Staff who are active participants in the KBOR Mandatory retirement plan who:

  1. Are 62 years of age or older at the Date of Separation (retirement);
  2. Have completed at least ten (10) years of service in a benefits-eligible position at KU or a State of Kansas agency at the Date of Separation; and
  3. Are not otherwise ineligible, as set forth below.

and

KU-Lawrence and Edwards Campus Staff who are active participants in the KPERS or KP&F Retirement Plans who:

  1. Have 85 points under KPERS or meets KP&F retirement eligibility or are 62 years of age or older at the Date of Separation and meet KPERS retirement eligibility;
  2. Have completed at least ten (10) years of service in a benefits-eligible position at KU or a State of Kansas agency at the Date of Separation; and
  3. are not otherwise ineligible, as set forth below.

The following employee groups are ineligible:

  • Employees who already have an active phased-retirement agreement or are scheduled to begin phased-retiremnt at a future date,
  • Employees who have already announced intention to retire and their unit has acknowledged,
  • Employees whose positions are funded entirely (100%) through grants,
  • Current KU retirees who have been rehired at KU,
  • Employees on approved long-term disability or who are in the waiting period,
  • Employees with an identified or projected Date of Separation with KU, and
  • Any employees who were on Sabbatical in 2020 or will be on Sabbatical leave for Fall 2020, unless revoked.

 

What if I change my mind after I've returned my Notice of Retirement document?

You will be required to retire on the documented retirement date, regardless of whether you choose to sign the Separation Agreement and Release document. Please consider your options carefully as deadlines are rigid and this step is binding.

You will be required to retire on your selected retirement date because the university and your department will be making a financial commitment to you, perhaps to the exclusion of another faculty or staff member. Additionally, the University will need to begin planning to meet the academic and departmental needs prior to your actual retirement.

Potential participants are strongly urged to consult with an attorney. They are also encouraged to discuss this option with their family and personal tax advisor as the University cannot provide tax advice or legal advice.

 

What is the deadline for the Notice of Retirement Document to be returned?

If you are accepted for the VSIP, the Notice of Retirement document must be completed and submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on Aug. 14, 2020.  Your signature is binding and indicates the date you agree to leave university employment and may not be rescinded. Selected applicants who return the Notice of Retirement will later receive an electronic Separation Agreement document. This document outlines the financial transaction that will take place at the time of separation. Failure to sign this document at the time of retirement will mean you revoke the payout, not that you refuse to retire.

 

Will you offer this program again in a few years?

We do not anticipate offering a VSIP program again in the foreseeable future. Much like the last time a voluntary separation program was offered in 2018, this program is designed to help address a specific challenge.

 

Where can I have specific questions addressed?

If your questions are seeking more detail about the VSIP program, the dates, or deadlines, please email vsip@ku.edu.

If you meet eligibility criteria and are interested in the impact that retirement will have on your benefits, please refer to the VSIP Retirement Benefits Information.  If you have other benefits-related questions, please contact the Benefits Office of Human Resource Management at benefits@ku.edu.

 

Will this offer be affected by other cost-savings measures the University might take?

Employees may be subject to other cost-savings measures that are currently under consideration. The payout for applicants who are accepted into the program will not be affected should the University need to take additional measures such as salary reductions or furloughs.

 

How will this affect faculty not eligible or selected for the VSIP?

The VSIP is part of a larger effort to address the effects of COVID-19 on the institution. These efforts include looking for opportunities to reduce workloads by eliminating activities that do not support KU’s goals. As always, managing the teaching and research responsibilities of retiring faculty will be done at the unit level. KU’s stature as a world class research institution is tied to being able to provide faculty with opportunities to push the boundaries of knowledge. KU remains committed to ensuring excellence in scholarship through its faculty.

 

Long-serving, tenured faculty are often our most respected and valued. Will losing them harm KU’s reputation and standing?

KU’s mission and strategic goals are a key priority, and all VSIP applications will be weighed against the best interest of the university community. A faculty member’s VSIP application could be denied if that departure would significantly weaken KU’s work in an academic or research area, or program accreditation.

 

As a staff member participating in the 2020 VSIP, may I be rehired after retirement?

The University is stipulating a 12-month waiting period for the rehire of participants at KU or KU Medical Center.  All rehires are subject to the University Retire Rehire policy, and KPERS retirees are also subject to Working After Retirement provisions.  Retirees may not be rehired into the same position in which they retired from once they become eligible for rehire. There is no waiting period to pursue employment with one of the KU affiliates, such as KU Endowment or the KU Alumni Association.

 

Are participating faculty eligible to be hired for non-faculty positions on campus?

VSIP participants will be eligible for rehire at KU (or KU Med Center) 12 months after their separation (retirement) date. Please see the University’s Retiree Rehire policy (http://policy.ku.edu/provost/retiree-rehire-policy) for additional conditions and restrictions that may apply. There is no waiting period to pursue employment with one of the KU affiliates, such as KU Endowment or the KU Alumni Association.

 

How was eligibility for the program determined?

Eligibility of staff and faculty to apply for the VSIP was based upon a number of factors, including the faculty or staff member’s length of service to the university, the individual’s age, and the assurance that the faculty or staff member was eligible to retire under the KPERS’, KP&F, or Kansas Board of Regents’ retirement plan and had reached the minimum eligibility for at least partial Social Security benefits.

Additionally, while it is the intention of KU to allow as many eligible faculty and staff as possible to participate in the VSIP, KU reserves the right to limit the total number of participants in order to preserve the viability of programs and services and the integrity of financial resources. We must be sure that the unit’s operational and accreditation needs are served so that each unit can achieve its strategic and organizational mission. Ultimately, the university needs to make certain that the needs and best interests of the entire university community are served.

 

Can I participate if I’m on sabbatical this year?

No. Employees who were on Sabbatical in 2020 are ineligible. All participants approved in the VSIP program must retire on Dec. 31, 2020, and therefore would be unable to complete a full academic year. Employees who plan to be on Sabbatical leave for Fall 2020 cannot participate unless revoked.

 

I’ve already discussed retirement with my unit leader, am I eligible for this program?

If your unit director has not yet accepted or acknowledged your decision to retire and you meet the VSIP eligibility criteria you would be able to apply. If you and your unit administrators have already determined a date for your retirement or have entered into a phased-retirement agreement you would not be eligible.

 

Can I retire under this program and get a faculty job at another KBOR institution?

Yes. Other KBOR institutions or Kansas state agencies are not covered by the University’s 12-month ban from rehiring.  However, there are other important considerations that you may wish to consider, including KBOR’s guidance and the University’s Retiree Rehire policy.

 

If I want to participate but get denied, is there an appeal process?

Participation decisions will be made by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer in consultation with Deans, Vice Provosts and other KU leaders. Decisions will be final and are not eligible for appeal.

 

Will participating affect eligibility for emeritus status?

VSIP participants are eligible for emeritus status as long as they meet the qualifications outlined in KU’s Emeritus Status policy, including “a minimum of 10 years of full-time continuous service at the University of Kansas.”  Emeritus status is not automatically granted and must be initiated and recommended by the unit hierarchy for review.

 

If I'm accepted may I still use my vacation and sick leave?

Yes. Employees can continue to use available accrued vacation and sick leave under the current leave policy guidelines with supervisory approval. Availability of the use of accrued leave may be impacted if other cost-savings measures are announced and enacted by the University.

 

What happens if I apply and am accepted, but then need to change my decision?

It depends. You can decide not to participate in the VSIP at any point in time, BUT once you sign and return the Notice of Retirement document (deadline Aug. 14), your decision to retire is final. Participants cannot later revoke their retirement as the University will make decisions related to finances, academic services and staffing based upon this notice.

The Separation Agreement outlines the financial and legal terms of the arrangement, including a release of claims against the university, and is due on or within seven days after the retirement date. You can always choose not to sign the Separation Agreement. If you decide not to sign the Separation Agreement, you will not receive the incentive pay but will otherwise be treated as a retiree.

 

If I participate in the program will I still be eligible for the regular retiree benefits like email, parking, KU Library use, or ability to purchase KU Athletics tickets?

Yes. Individuals who successfully complete the retirement process whether or not they are part of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program are eligible for a variety of KU-related benefits. A complete list can be found on the Human Resource Management website.

 

If I turn in my application for VSIP earlier, can I find out my outcome earlier?

We are not able to notify applicants earlier than July 27 regardless of when they submit their Notice of Interest form before the July 10, 2020, deadline. The program calendar is tied to employment law and the rules regarding the length of time employees must have to apply for the VSIP. The university intends to approve as many applications as possible, although all decisions will be made in the best interest of the university community.

 

If I am selected to take part in the program when do I finish my teaching responsibilities?

Selected individuals will be expected to complete instructional activities through the end of the fall term.

 

Can I direct the lump sum and/or my leave payouts into a tax-deferred retirement plan?

You can elect to direct some of your sick and/or annual leave payout into a voluntary retirement plan. The VSIP lump sum payment amount will not be included in the calculation of mandatory retirement contributions and will not be included to calculate the maximum deferral for voluntary retirement plan contributions. Once you elect to retire, either under the VSIP or regular retirement, the Benefits Office will ask you whether you would like to receive information about the maximum amount you can defer into the Kansas Board of Regents voluntary 403(b) retirement plan. The IRS provides maximum deferral information in late October/early November for the following calendar year. If you have further questions, please consult the Human Resource Management website or contact the Benefits Office by e-mail at benefits@ku.edu.

 

Are employees who work at KU’s Juniper Gardens or Parsons sites eligible to participate?

Possibly. Employees who work at the Juniper Gardens and Parsons campuses are part of the Lawrence and KU Edwards budget, however many of the positions are grant-funded. Employees in positions funded 100 percent through grants are not eligible to take part in the VSIP. Questions about how one’s position is funded can be sent to vsip@ku.edu.

 

New Questions

Does the re-hire policy apply to individuals seeking employment at a KU affiliate, such as the KU Alumni Association or KU Athletics?

No, the policy only pertains to retirees seeking positions at KU and the KU Medical Center. As stated in other questions, KPERS retirees are also subject to Working After Retirement provisions.

(added July 7, 2020)

 

Is it advisable to discuss this possibility with one’s supervisor before submitting the interest form? 

The decision to submit an application must be an independent and voluntary decision. Supervisors have been directed to neither encourage nor prohibit employees from applying.

(added July 1, 2020)

 

What are bases for any denials due to “best interest” of the KU community?

Since the VSIP is not an entitlement, applications are approved, rather than denied, based on the best interest of the KU community. Any approvals must be consistent with the needs of KU and must result in a benefit to the KU community. Each approval will be granted based on the best interest of the university community, as to be determined by the Provost and the Chancellor. For example, a significant cost savings as determined by the unit and campus administration may result in a benefit to the KU community.

(added July 1, 2020)

 

Is it true that the open positions will need to be left vacant or is that a unit determination?

It is anticipated that positions will remain vacant for a period of time long enough to provide shrinkage to cover the entire amount of the VSIP. Should a unit receive permission to fill the position prior to that time, the unit will be responsible to cover the cost of the VSIP.

(added July 1, 2020)

 

If I’m approved for the VSIP and also subject to the temporary salary reduction plan, would I be subject to the full six months-worth of salary reduction before I retire, or would the salary reduction be applied only to the weeks I am still on payroll?

The payroll reduction, while based on one’s annual salary, is intended to be realized over the course of 13 pay periods through equal reductions. The equal reductions will only be applied to the pay periods in which you work. They will not be increased to reflect six months of payroll savings collected through the VSIP participant’s remaining payroll periods. Also, the salary reduction effort does not affect the VSIP lump-sum payout after retirement as that is $100,000 or your FY 2021 budgeted annual base salary, whichever is lower. Upon retirement, any vacation, sick or compensatory leave balances will be paid according to existing University policy and will be calculated at the compensation rate prior to the application of temporary salary reductions.

(added June 23, 2020)

 

I have been told that anyone with an administrative appointment cannot apply for VSIP.   I cannot find that requirement anywhere, is this true?

An administrative appointment does not preclude a faculty member from qualifying for VSIP. However, their payout would be based on their budgeted 9-month academic-year salary and would not include administrative adjustments.

(added June 23, 2020)

 

If an eligible employee has their FTE reduced are they still eligible for the VSIP program?

Employees are still eligible for the VSIP program as long as they remain benefits eligible (.48 FTE or higher). Their VSIP payout amount will be $100,000 or the FY 21 budgeted annual base salary (the amount prior to their FTE reduction), whichever is lower.

(added June 23, 2020)

 

If I am approved to participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) and will be retiring Dec. 31, 2020, will I be subject to the temporary salary reduction?

Yes, those participating in the VSIP will be subject to salary reductions or other personnel action designated by KU. Upon retirement, any vacation, sick or compensatory leave balances will be paid according to existing University policy and will be calculated at the compensation rate prior to the application of temporary salary reductions. The VSIP payout for applicants who are accepted into the program will not be affected by the salary reduction. Approved applicants will receive a payout of $100,000 or an amount equal to their FY 2021 budgeted annual base salary, whichever is lower, and not based on the reduced amount outlined in the salary savings plan.

(added June 19, 2020)

 

I worked several years for the State of Kansas with a KPERS retirement plan before I came to KU, where I’ve worked for more than 15 years under the KBOR mandatory retirement plan that I still participate in. I’ll be just under the age threshold on Dec. 31, but I have more than the 85 points required if I were still with KPERS. Does this combined years of service at the State and at KU make me eligible to apply?

Unfortunately, no. Participants must be age eligible for retirement under their current retirement plan. In this case, since you participate in the KBOR mandatory plan, you must be 62 years or older on Dec. 31, 2020.

(added June 9, 2020)

 

 

 

 

 

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