Concordia Launches Voluntary Retirement Program

Applicable for Full-Time Faculty and Staff, Comes into Affect in May

Photo Claire Loewen

Concordia University will be taking applications from full-time faculty and staff for a new “voluntary retirement program” in early October, according to Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota.

“These are tough fiscal times […] the university is feeling the crunch,” she commented during an interview, citing the $36.6 million Concordia has seen cut from its operating budget by the provincial government over the past four years.

The new program comes after the “voluntary departure program” was implemented in 2014, when 90 Concordia staff employees—not faculty—took buyouts to leave. Staff is defined as any non-teaching university position.

To be eligible for the new retirement program, the applicant must be full-time, at least 60 years old and have worked for a minimum of ten years at the university, Mota explained. A candidate will only be rejected if they don’t meet these requirements, she added. Part-time faculty is not eligible.

The retirement program differs from the voluntary departure program of two years ago because many of the 90 employees were in their 30s and had to completely sever ties with Concordia, according to Mota. An example of one of those employees was Maria-Teresa Zenteno, who worked at the school’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities for 25 years. She left unsure of whether her job would be replaced for an increasingly sought out service.

The new volunteer program is geared towards people nearing retirement, Mota said, as successful applicants can still have university benefits like a health care plan and pension.

According to Ted Stathopoulos—president of Concordia University Faculty Association—Concordia President Alan Shepard immediately called to assure him that all leaving professors will be replaced. Stathopoulos doesn’t anticipate that many full-time professors will apply for the program aside from individuals already contemplating retirement.

“For me the key word is voluntary,” he said. “Since it’s voluntary I have no objections whatsoever—I see they’re in a difficult financial position.”

There will be vacancies after successful applicants leave on May 31, 2017, Mota explained, but replacements will be found for some key positions. Stathopoulos said he’s concerned staff positions that are not replaced could affect faculty workload. “Somebody has to do the work,” he commented.

Currently full-time faculty and staff are attending seminars to learn general information and the benefits of the program, Mota said. The deadline period for applications will be from Oct. 3 to 7, and candidates will hear the outcomes during the week of Oct. 24. Once accepted, there’s no going back, Mota said.

A deficit of $6.3 million is expected for the upcoming academic year, according to a presentation last week by Concordia’s Chief Financial Officer Denis Cossette. Employee salaries make up 83.5 per cent of Concordia’s total operating budget. As president for the 2014-15 academic year, Shepard made $369,620 in salary, $69,765 in taxable benefits, and $40,231 in reimbursements, according to an audit obtained through an access to information request.

With files from Michelle Pucci and Josh Fischlin