LANGSTON — A pilot program designed to keep Oklahoma State University faculty members in the classroom longer is being extended.
The OSU/A&M Board of Regents approved an extension to the faculty phased retirement pilot program Friday at the board's meeting at Langston University.
The board approved the pilot program at its February 2011 meeting. The plan allows OSU faculty members to retire from the university with full benefits and return to work half-time after a 60-day waiting period.
At the time, university officials said the program would allow faculty members to continue to perform some of their duties while leaving others. For example, a professor could continue to do research while retiring from his or her teaching duties.
Joe Weaver, the university's vice president for administration and finance, said Friday the program hadn't had the level of participation that university officials had hoped to see. Only two faculty members entered into the pilot program, he said.
By extending the pilot program, Weaver said he thought the university could attract more participants, allowing university officials to get a better idea of what kind of effect it might have.
Faculty members said they hadn't had enough time to consider how the program would affect their individual situations, Weaver said. University officials plan to continue the pilot program for another one to three years, he said, which would allow those faculty members more time to weigh their options.
“They didn't have time to fully study what the impact would be on all aspects of their benefits,” Weaver said.
During the meeting, Regent Douglas Burns asked if the program could be a financial burden on the university. Burns said he was concerned departments would be forced to replace retiring faculty members with other full-time instructors, in effect meaning they replaced one faculty member with one full-time professor and one half-time professor.
Weaver said university officials have taken steps to avoid that situation.
University officials expect the program to have little to no impact on the university's budget, Weaver said.
“It does not move forward if the department head does not sign off on it,” he said.
OSU's Faculty Council proposed the program to university officials in January. At the time, council members said such a program would allow professors to ease into retirement.
The council also said the program would allow the university to keep experienced faculty members for longer while helping reduce the cost of retraining incoming employees.