Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

50 or more USF professors apply for early retirement buyouts

TAMPA — Some of the University of South Florida's best-known scholars, including experts on Tampa's poorest neighborhoods, religious ethics and coastal marine ecosystems, are among the 50 or more who have applied for USF's first-ever early retirement buyout.

That number could grow, since the application deadline is the close of business today.

But even 50 is twice the number of applications USF expected on its Tampa campus alone.

"We've probably already exceeded the money that we set aside, so we will be looking to see if we can find other sources of money," USF senior vice provost Dwayne Smith said Tuesday. "We'd like to accommodate as many people as we can."

Administrators had earmarked about $2 million for buyouts in Tampa and roughly $3.5 million for the whole USF system.

The university has offered to pay a year's salary, plus accrued sick time and vacation, to faculty members who agree to retire early. Salaries for full professors at USF average nearly $102,000 a year. Associate professors' salaries average $74,000 annually.

But the money is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Most who applied did so by e-mail, sending in applications within minutes, even seconds, of the start of the application period.

"It was like trying to get an A-Listing on Southwest Airlines," said professor of anthropology Susan Greenbaum, who applied electronically. Greenbaum, who came to USF in 1981, directs its office of community engagement and has done wide-ranging research, including extensive work on community development in Tampa's urban areas.

But not budgeting enough money for those who apply turned the process into something undignified, a "weird lottery" over "who could push the button fastest," Greenbaum said.

Other prominent faculty members who applied for the buyout include biologist John Ogden, the longtime director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography, and professor of religious studies Darrell Fasching, a past associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The buyout application period began at 8 a.m. Monday.

"I tried to get in one stroke past 8 o'clock," said Fasching, an expert on religion's relationship to violence and nonviolence and the author of works on genocide, Auschwitz and Hiroshima.

USF's online form told him his application went in two seconds after 8.

In addition to those who applied online, 17 people lined up at the human resources office on USF's Tampa campus. Four, some with lawn chairs and snacks, told Smith they had lined up the previous night.

Those applications were time-stamped by 8:01 a.m., Smith said. But he saw some people in line with laptops who might have applied electronically even as they waited to turn in a paper application. It's not clear yet how many people applied both ways.

The list of applicants, which could change because professors have a week to reconsider, so far also includes three people each from the departments of childhood education and literacy studies, mass communications and theater and dance.

Faculty members who still want to apply have nothing to lose by doing so, Smith said. If the university cannot give them buyouts, their applications are not binding, he said.

USF announced the early retirement program in January, making it available to employees in the faculty pay plan with at least 10 years' service. The pay plan covers about 2,000 full-time employees. Of those, 659 are eligible to apply for a buyout, 550 of them on the Tampa campus.

Soon the campus buzzed with speculation that professors would line up to apply like baby boomers trying to score Bruce Springsteen tickets. That's when USF decided that e-mail applications would be okay, too.

The interest was not surprising, considering how sweet the offer is. In a national survey, two-thirds of universities that had similar programs offered nine months' pay or less.

The eligibility requirements also were more loose than at Florida State University last year.

"Wow," said Phaedra Harris, FSU's associate director of human resources, when she learned just how many people could apply for buyouts at USF.

At FSU, applicants had to be 70 or older to apply for early retirement, among other things. So out of about 6,000 faculty and staff members, only 27 employees met the application criteria. Just five retired through the program.

"We were a little more conservative," Harris said. "For 10 years of service, (USF's offer) is a great deal."

50 or more USF professors apply for early retirement buyouts 03/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  3. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  4. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House


    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  5. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]