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Questions remain as estimated 20% of eligible Penn State employees take buyout at campuses

Penn State's "Old Main" building on its University Park campus.
Sydney Roach
Penn State's "Old Main" building on its University Park campus.

Approximately 20% of Penn State employees who qualified for the university's voluntary buyout plan took the offer, according to preliminary information reports, and faculty leaders are concerned about how that decrease in faculty and staff will be managed with fall classes starting in less than three months.

Faculty Senate Chair Shelli Stine said she’s concerned about the impact the buyout will have on fall classes. And, she said, there are other areas that will be affected such as new student orientation and staff who work with new students, especially first-generation college students.

“There's a lot of pieces that I'm very worried about coming at us very quickly in the fall," Stine said. "But also we're starting to plan for spring.”

Stine said that, according to preliminary numbers presented at a Faculty Senate planning meeting, approximately 20% of eligible employees at the Commonwealth Campuses took the offer. That’s about 10% of all employees at the Commonwealth Campuses.

The university had offered a voluntary buyout to full-time, non-unionized staff and tenured and tenure-line faculty at its Commonwealth Campuses. It comes with 12 months’ salary and subsidized health benefits for six months. The deadline for opting into the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program was May 31.

The last work day for most employees who opted in will be June 28, 2024. The plan gives the university the option of keeping an employee until Dec. 31, 2024.

“From where I'm standing, there's still a lot of uncertainty, there are still a lot of unanswered questions," Stine said.

She said there are "people who are working really hard, very quickly to try to figure out how this is going to work. But I don't know what those answers are."

Penn State spokesman Wyatt DuBois said the university is still processing buyout documents and separation dates for participating employees. He said once that information has been processed, it will be shared with the university community.

"The university and every Commonwealth Campus is committed to student success, which includes full support for our students both inside and outside the classroom," DuBois said in an email. "We will continue to provide a robust experience for our students from the time they arrive on campus during New Student Orientation."

Copyright 2024 WPSU.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.