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Frequently Asked Questions


If you have additional questions, please email vsip@wku.edu or call the Department of Human Resources at (270) 745-8787.

WKU is implementing a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) as an employee-centered strategy for making appropriate workforce adjustments and creating opportunities for organizational renewal and invention. This institutional initiative is appropriate given the changing organizational operating environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, declining state support and other evolving dynamics affecting higher education in general. WKU remains committed to protecting, preserving and achieving the University’s mission, enhanced focus on student success and objectives outlined in the WKU Strategic Plan.

The VSIP will be administered by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Dr. Cheryl L. Stevens) and the Executive Vice President for Strategy, Operations and Finance (Ms. Susan I. Howarth). In consultation with the University President, these two senior leaders will have responsibilities for VSIP communication and administration, validating employee eligibility and providing final approval of employees into the VSIP. The Department of Human Resources will have a key role in communication, education, assisting employees with questions, custodian of program documents, and assisting VSIP participants with separation from WKU, including retirement processing as applicable.

Faculty Eligibility Criteria

Individuals must meet “all” noted criteria.

  •  Completed 15 years of full-time, benefits eligible service at WKU as of June 30, 2021 AND where the sum of the employee’s age and total years of full-time, benefits eligible service equals 70 or more (as of June 30, 2021).
  • Actively employed and who currently hold full-time faculty positions that are Education and General (E&G) budgeted. This includes positions that may not be identified as “budgeted” (in the FY 20/21 Operating Budget), but are nonetheless currently being funded by E&G funds.
  • VSIP eligibility includes faculty employees who are in Department Head/Chair positions and whose standard employment period is 12- or 11-month.

 

Staff Employee Eligibility Criteria

Staff employees must meet “all” noted criteria.

  • Employees who have completed 15 years of full-time, benefits eligible service at WKU as of June 30, 2021 AND where the sum of the employee’s age and total years of full-time, benefits eligible service equals 70 or more (as of June 30, 2021).
  • Employees who are actively employed and who currently hold full-time budgeted Education and General (E&G) staff positions. This includes positions that may not be identified as “budgeted” (in the FY 20/21 Operating Budget), but are nonetheless currently being funded by E&G funds.

No. The VSIP offering is focused on employees who hold positions funded by the University’s E&G (Education and General) budget.

1. A lump-sum, one-time payment equal to the employee’s annualized base salary as of January 1, 2021, not to exceed $100,000.

NOTE: base salary does NOT include faculty overload pay, summer pay, stipends, temporary rates/salaries, one-time payments, supplements, or endowed or distinguished professor supplements.

For hourly or semi-monthly paid employees, base salary is the calculated annual pay based on the employee’s established hourly rate of pay for 1,950 customary hours worked in a fiscal year period.

2. A health insurance allowance for employees who are less than age 65 as of June 30, 2021. This allowance is provided to assist VSIP participants with insurance cost before attaining eligibility for Medicare at age 65. Any VSIP participant who is age 65 as of July 1, 2021, is not eligible for the health insurance allowance described in this section. Health insurance coverage shall be the full responsibility of the employee following separation from WKU. VSIP participants shall retain coverage with the WKU Employee Health Plan (as an active participant) through June 30, 2021.

 

The VSIP health insurance allowance is calculated for each VSIP participant as follows:

$650.00 for each month before the month in which the employee attains age 65, as measured from July 1, 2021. The monthly allowance is calculated in whole months only. The maximum health insurance allowance is $11,700.00

 

A VSIP payment estimator tool is available on the VSIP program web page to assist employees in calculating such an estimate.

 

Eligible faculty and staff who are interested in the VSIP must file a formal application. The VSIP Notice of Interest Application form indicates that the employee (applicant) wishes to voluntarily separate from employment at WKU effective June 30, 2021, in exchange for the VSIP incentive and benefits as described. The application period begins on January 14, 2021, and continues through March 15, 2021 at 4:00pm (central). Applications submitted after the deadline (March 15, 2021, 4:00pm) will not be considered.

 

An employee who may wish to withdraw a previously submitted VSIP Notice of Interest Application may do so by completing a timely VSIP Withdrawal Agreement Form by March 15, 2021 at 4:00pm (Central).

The VSIP is being offered as a one-time managerial action of the institution. The University does not anticipate similar action in the future.

If you have clarifying questions or need additional information please email vsip@wku.edu or call the Department of Human Resources at 270-745-8787.

Prior to filing a VSIP application, employees are advised to consult with an attorney of their choosing to carefully review VSIP documents and the legal conditions associated with VSIP acceptance. Similarly, employees are advised to attain information from a financial and tax advisor to fully understand the financial benefits and any implications of accepting benefits of the VSIP.

 

Eligible employees are invited to consider the VSIP and to file the application for participation. Every application will be considered. The University has not established any upfront participation thresholds, however, the institution reserves the right to accept or reject participants based on critical needs of the institution.

 

A proposed VSIP participant may revoke (withdraw) a previously submitted VSIP voluntary separation Waiver and General Release Agreement within seven (7) days from the date the Agreement is executed. An employee who wishes to withdraw from the VSIP must complete a VSIP Revocation Agreement Form. The Form must be dated and signed by the employee. The receipt of a valid VSIP Revocation Agreement Form will result in the immediate removal of the employee from the VSIP Program. No incentive or benefits (as described in this document) will be provided to the employee. Employees will receive electronic confirmation of receipt of their VSIP Revocation Agreement Form.

All approved VSIP participants will be notified on the same date—March 18, 2021. No employee will be informed earlier than March 18. This methodology maintains consistency across the workforce and is consistent with employment law and rules regarding the length of time that employees must have to consider the VSIP.

A faculty member on an approved sabbatical during FY21 is eligible for VSIP participation

 

Yes, except for employees who may have submitted a resignation/retirement notice dated December 31, 2020, or earlier related to a future resignation/retirement date and that has been acknowledged in writing by the applicable department head or dean.

Because VSIP participants separate from WKU employment effective June 30, 2021, a July 1, 2021, retirement date is applicable both with KERS and TRS. The VSIP incentive and benefits will be paid on July 30, 2021, which will be “after” the employee’s July 1 retirement date. This is an approved action under KERS and TRS.

Approved VSIP participants shall not be reemployed at WKU either full-time or part-time. The only exception is the possibility for teaching in a part-time faculty role and at the part-time faculty pay rates. Any future employment at WKU in such a role shall not occur prior to January 1, 2022, and shall only be at the University’s total discretion and shall not be pre-arranged.

Each eligible employee is invited to evaluate and consider the VSIP, along with its associated benefits, and determine whether the VSIP is a beneficial and desired action. No WKU official/supervisor can require or direct any eligible employee to apply for the VSIP or prohibit them from doing so. Submitting an application to participate in the VSIP is a voluntary employee-initiated action only.

As authorized by the University President, the VSIP will be administered by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Dr. Cheryl L. Stevens) and the Executive Vice President for Strategy, Operations and Finance (Ms. Susan I. Howarth). In consultation with the University President, these two senior leaders will have responsibilities for VSIP communication and administration, validating employee eligibility and providing final approval of employees into the VSIP.

Approved VSIP participants are not limited in any way (by WKU) in terms of employment with another employer after June 30, 2021. Individuals who are retiring through KERS or TRS are advised to consult with the retirement system about any implications/limitations prior to acceptance of another position so that retirement benefits are not impacted.

 
Yes, approved VSIP participants may continue the use of vacation and sick leave as established in current policy.

Faculty employees who apply for and who are approved for VSIP participation, shall forfeit their tenure rights and any notice rights associated with employment at WKU. Approved faculty VSIP participants shall not be reemployed at WKU either full-time or part-time. The only exception is the possibility for teaching in a part-time faculty role and at the part-time faculty pay rates. Any future employment at WKU in such a role shall not occur prior to January 1, 2022, and shall only be at the University’s total discretion and shall not be pre-arranged.

WKU, at its discretion, may amend or terminate the VSIP Program, provided that such amendment or termination will not change any rights or interests of any eligible employee who may have made a qualified election under the Program prior to such amendment or termination.

Because the VSIP incentive and benefits payment will be paid on July 30, 2021 (after the official date of separation/retirement June 30, 2021), deferrals/contributions cannot be made to such accounts. Employees who have an interest in additional savings may wish to increase their contributions to their accounts in the months prior to June 30, 2021.

Payment of the VSIP incentive and the health insurance allowance will be paid on July 30, 2021. As an option, employees may elect to have the VSIP incentive and health insurance allowance paid in two equal installments dated: July 30, 2021 and January 31, 2022

The University shall deduct from all payments required deductions including, taxes, customary withholdings and any other mandatory deductions. Additionally, parking citations, tuition balances and any other sums due or owed to WKU will be deducted from the incentive payment.

 


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 Last Modified 1/13/21