UI cutting costs with early retirement - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI cutting costs with early retirement

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IOWA CITY (KWWL)  Jay Semel has seen some great minds walk through the halls of the Obermann Center over the past three decades.

As the University of Iowa cuts back, Semel is one of 700 applicants moving forward to the next phase of his life.

"I had not planned to leave the University at this point, but the early retirement incentive atleast got me thinking and talking about this with friends and family," said Semel, the UI's Associate Vice President for Research.

Semel also serves as Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, a program dedicated to scholarship and the exchange of ideas.

In fact, recently the program brought in some of the country's top lawyers and economists for a seminar on debt and bankruptcy.

With Semel opting to apply for early retirement, the successful program will be forced to transition to a new director.

Many UI programs will face similar challenges.

Director of Benefits and Payroll Richard Saunders says 120 applicants have been approved for early retirement, saving the University 26 million dollars each year over the five year life of the program.

"We had no set goal when we created the program, in other words, any savings is a good savings, at this point we are pleased with the results," said Saunders.

The early retirement program provides two main incentives.  It will continue to contribute towads the employee's health insurance and retirement funds. 

UI employees 57 years of age and older qualify.

The program will be effective in the University's attempt to balance the budget, but it comes at the cost of losing some of the University's most precious assets sooner than expected.

Still Semel sees the troubling times as merely a bump in the road for the University.

"I have every bit of confidence that this University will get through the transition phase and everything will be fine."

The early retirement application deadline is midnight Thursday morning.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

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