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University of Iowa to lose 185 employees through early retirement

Finance and operations hit hardest

University of Iowa students walk past the College of Business on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on campus in Iowa City on Thursday, December 18, 2014. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
University of Iowa students walk past the College of Business on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on campus in Iowa City on Thursday, December 18, 2014. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

By the end of this month, the University of Iowa will be 185 employees lighter thanks to its third early retirement incentive program since 2009.

The program is expected to save the university $27.6 million over five years and possibly avoid layoffs as part of a Board of Regents initiative to improve efficiency at its three public universities.

But with the cost savings comes the loss of a combined 5,300-plus years of service to the university, according to a Gazette analysis of employees taking early retirement. A preliminary list of those employees includes more than a dozen professors, three assistant vice presidents, one associate dean and one vice president — Susan Buckley, vice president for human resources, who helped craft the early retirement incentive.

Buckley, with a salary of $242,227, is the highest-paid employee taking the incentive. Thirty-two departing employees make more than $100,000 annually, according to the preliminary list.

Other top administrators leaving include Paul Cooper, director and attending veterinarian in the Office of Animal Resources; Mary Jane Beach, assistant vice president and director of business services; Mary Aquilino, associate dean in the College of Public Health; and Fred Mims, associate athletics director for student athlete affairs and interim director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment.

The departing employee with the most years of service is art history professor Wallace Tomasini, who has been with the UI for 58 years.

The department of finance and operations is losing the most employees with 36 departing, according to the preliminary list. The College of Dentistry expects to save the most through its retirements, at more than $4.4 million over five years.

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Other university organizations expecting significant savings including finance and operations at $4 million and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at $3.5 million. Eleven departments or colleges are expecting savings topping $1 million.

About 1,400 UI employees were eligible for the incentive program, which aimed to cut costs and capitalize on consolidations identified through the regents’ efficiency review launched last year. A consultant hired to conduct the review identified opportunities expected to save tens of millions and eliminate 250-some jobs across UI, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

UI President Sally Mason earlier this year said the retirement program could help avoid layoffs.

To be eligible for the program, employees had to be at least 57 years old with at least 10 years of continuous, benefit-eligible employment. UI Health Care employees were not eligible, and employees accepted for the program had to retire no later than June 30.

After the incentive was announced this year, 358 employees applied, 198 were approved, and 13 later withdrew their applications, according to UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck. The university denied 160 applicants for a variety of reasons, including fear of losing too much institutional knowledge and employees critical to the operation of their departments.

The university offered similar early retirement incentives in 2009 and 2010.

The University of Iowa has approved early retirement for 181 employees, saving the institution an estimated $26.8 million over five years. Here are the 10 highest-earning employees leaving.

By the numbers

81 employees approved for the incentive program

$26.8 million in estimated savings over five years

5,306 combined years of service retiring through program

36 retiring from the department of finance and operations, the most of any organization

11 university organizations expected to save more than $1 million through the program

13 professors retiring through the program

25 retiring with more than 40 years of service

Source: University of Iowa

• Sue Buckley, vice president for human resources, makes $242,227 with 40 years service

• Paul Cooper, attending veterinarian and director, makes $235,870 with 39 years service

• Raymond Riezman, business professor, makes $207,433 with 39 years service

• Steven Aquilino, dentistry professor, makes $204,947 with 33 years service

• Steven Vincent, dentistry professor, makes $194,440 with 30 years service

• Mary Jane Beach, assistant vice president, makes $180,405 with 22 years service

• Axel Ruprecht, dentistry professor, makes $176,998 with 28 years service

• Willie Mims, associate athletics director, makes $163,087 with 38 years service

• Rex Pruess, senior information technology director, makes $159,575 with 41 years service

• Grainne Martin, deputy counsel, makes $157,510 with 26 years service

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