VSIP-2015_220x147_72Earlier today, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Andy Gordon sent an email to all staff introducing the University’s Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. The new, comprehensive program is designed to remove common barriers that prevent people from taking the next step in life while realigning the University’s workforce in a proactive, positive way. The complete text of the email message is below.

Dear Syracuse University Staff,

Throughout the past academic year, the University has been engaged in a transformation initiative called Fast Forward Syracuse. Dozens of work teams and several hundred faculty, staff and students have worked diligently during the past 10 months to evaluate our processes and priorities and make recommendations for improving our University. The three components—Operational Excellence, the Academic Strategic Plan and the Campus Master Plan—provide a strong trajectory to excellence.

To advance our standing as a great, student-focused, international research university that attracts great students, faculty and staff, we must make smart choices about where we allocate our resources. We have to examine opportunities to further invest in our academic priorities and further distinguish Syracuse as a place for excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.

As part of this effort, and for the first time in many years, the University is offering a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program to qualifying non-faculty, benefits-eligible staff. Beginning on July 1, staff members whose age plus years of service equals 65 or more will be eligible to receive enhanced benefits designed to help them pursue new opportunities.

If you are eligible and are interested in making a career or life change—to spend more time with family, to pursue a new professional endeavor or to begin retirement—I encourage you to look closely at this offering. It is a one-time-only program and your chance to participate is now. Here’s how the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program works:

  • Eligible staff members, whose age plus years of service equals 65 or more, may voluntarily choose to leave the University before Dec. 31, 2015.
  • Those who decide to participate in the program will receive a single cash payment equal to 50 percent of their base annual salary as of their separation date, less applicable taxes and withholdings.
  • Staff who elect to participate in the program will also be eligible to receive enhanced medical, dental and vision plan subsidies.
  • Both the cash payment and the benefit plan subsidies are unique to this one-time-only program and are not included in the standard University retirement benefits.

The cash payment and additional benefit plan subsidies are designed to remove common barriers to taking the next step in life by providing extra financial resources to help eligible staff members fund health care and other financial commitments. For those retiring, all existing tuition benefits will remain.

A significant number of University staff members meet the eligibility requirements of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, but not everyone may want to take advantage of this opportunity. Participation in the program is entirely voluntary. Employees who qualify are not required to enroll, and no one will be required to participate. The goal is to give those employees who would like to pursue a career or life change the necessary support to do so. The program is designed to realign the staff workforce in a proactive, positive way that better reflects our strategic academic and student-experience priorities and reduces the likelihood of future staff reductions.

On July 1, all eligible staff members will receive an email confirming their eligibility followed shortly by a personalized letter mailed to their home. The letter will outline program benefits, including the amount of the cash payment, and provide information regarding the additional benefit plan subsidies.
Eligible employees may submit an election to enroll in the program no later than August 5, 2015. Separation from service dates will be determined in accordance with operational needs of the schools, colleges and administrative units and generally will be phased in between mid-August and December 31, 2015.

To ensure that eligible staff have access to the information necessary to make their decision about electing to receive these benefits, the Syracuse University Human Resources team, along with support from TIAA-CREF and others, will provide education sessions and host office hours at various locations on campus throughout the month of July. There will also be extended hours at the HR Service Center at Skytop to answer questions about employee benefits and the benefits being offered under the program. Additional TIAA-CREF representatives will be available on campus and in the local Syracuse office to provide personalized financial advice.

If you would like to learn more about this one-time opportunity, please visit the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program resource page on the employee benefits web site. The resource page will have detailed plan information, answers to frequently asked questions, dates and locations of HR office hours and education sessions, and the plan document that governs the program and includes any and all applicable terms and conditions.

Thank you for considering this important initiative.


Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Syracuse University