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University of Akron faculty groups want liability explained

By admin Published: November 11, 2011

Two faculty organizations at the University of Akron are pressing the administration to explain how it will cover a $26 million liability.


The Faculty Senate and American Association of University Professors both sent letters to UA President Luis Proenza last week asking how the university will account for money it spent on employee buyouts dating from more than a decade ago.


“I think many of us lost track of how it was going to be resolved,” said Faculty Senate President Harvey Sterns, director of the Institute of Life-Span Development and Gerontology. “Now it’s time.”


The issue came to the surface when new Chief Financial Officer David Cummins joined the university in March.


He is tackling a long-dormant issue that arose in the 1990s, when the university incurred a $26 million liability to cover the buyouts of employees who took early retirements.


That liability was to be covered in part by the university and in part by the departments that would leave jobs open — in essence, saving money — and that would hire replacement employees at lower salaries. But because of a number of factors, such as enrollment growth, those savings were never realized, Cummins said.


Departments never were charged for their share of the buyouts.


As time has gone on, most departments have amassed carry-overs from year to year that they use for equipment or travel and the like.


These departments would lose some of that carry-over to cover their share of the liability.


“Our current thinking is that it will be paid for [through] the carry-over over four or five years,” Cummins said. “We won’t cut into our ongoing operating budget.”


He said he hopes to present a recommendation on the internal auditing issue to top-level officials later this month.


Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3720 or cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com.

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