The University of Akron is offering voluntary buyouts to some of its 720 full-time faculty members.

Trustees approved the Voluntary Separation or Retirement Program at a meeting Monday. Only faculty members who are not in “areas of strategic investment” are eligible.

Faculty members who are not eligible include those in the law school, the College of Polymer Science and Engineering, and the College of Engineering as well as those in chemistry, dance, theater, finance and nursing programs.

UA spokesman Wayne Hill said about 340 of the 720 faculty members — or about 47 percent — are eligible for the buyouts.

The move is UA’s latest step to cut expenses as it continues to face financial woes primarily caused by lingering debt from a building boom in earlier years and enrollment declines.

In its upcoming budget, the university plans to reduce general fund expenditures by $15 million. UA has been dealing with projected deficits for the past few years, cutting positions and reducing costs in a variety of other ways.

Faculty members eligible for the Voluntary Separation or Retirement Program (VSRP) will be contacted by April 1 and must make a decision by May 31. The buyouts will be effective May 31, 2020.

There is no specific number of faculty members that need to take the offer, Hill said. The university has not targeted an amount it would like to cut from the budget through buyouts, he said.

“We are not looking at [layoffs] at this point,” he said.

Those opting for a voluntary separation or retirement would receive cash payments equal to 100 percent of their 2019-20 base pay. They would receive the payments in two installments: one in July 2020 and the other in January 2021.

“We designed this to ensure that areas of strategic investment at the university will continue to have the needed faculty members to achieve the investment goals,” UA Chief Financial Officer Nathan Mortimer said in a notice to the campus community. "For those who are eligible for the VSRP, this offering may enable them to take their career in a different direction or to retire, depending on their personal situation.”

This latest program is different than one offered about a year ago that was aimed at faculty members of retirement age or nearing retirement. To be eligible, one’s age and years of service had to add up to more than 75 years.

Forty-eight faculty members opted for this program.

 Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.