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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Faculty Reduction in Force

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  • 1. The review committee recommended my termination. Is this decision final?
    • A. No. There are several levels of review that follow the review committee’s recommendation, and the decision may change at any of those levels.

      If you are a tenured faculty member, your departmental review committee’s recommendation is still tentative. You have the opportunity to submit materials to that committee asking them to reconsider.

      Moreover, if you eventually receive a terminal year letter, tenure and tenure-track faculty can appeal that decision by requesting an in-person hearing before a three-member panel.

  • 2. If this process continues and I receive a terminal year letter, when will my faculty appointment end?
    • A. May 31, 2013. If you retire or resign before that date, your appointment will end on the effective date of your retirement or resignation, but no later than May 31, 2013.
  • 3. If I lose my UTB faculty appointment, do I get a position at TSC?
    • A. Unfortunately, we do not know. If you were employed by TSC on August 31, 1992, the Partnership Agreement provides that you will be afforded employment opportunities at TSC at salary and benefit levels at least comparable to other equivalent community colleges. However, TSC will ultimately make its own hiring decisions.
  • 4. For Departmental Review Committee Faculty - Why did my department need to terminate one or more faculty positions?
    • A. As UTB and TSC dissolve their partnership, each institution will assume the programs and services appropriate to its mission. UTB will maintain only those programs that are appropriate for a four-year university, while TSC will assume community college courses and programs. Because community college courses and programs will be maintained and taught by TSC, it will decide which employees it needs to fulfill its mission. As a result, the services of faculty and staff at UTB primarily associated with community college programs will no longer be needed at UTB.

      Additionally, in light of the separation, UTB is preparing itself for its new mission as a stand-alone four-year university with fewer students. Accordingly, UTB evaluated all of its programs and made decisions to re-organize or eliminate some programs and positions to align the curriculum with its future academic needs.

  • 5. How did my department review committee decide whom to recommend for termination?
    • A. The committee was guided by the Provost's written instructions which have been provided to you.
  • 6. Which other faculty members in my department were considered by the review committee?
    • A. The review committee considered all the faculty members whose names appear within the Provost's written instructions.
  • 7. If the process ends and I receive a terminal year letter, can I appeal that decision?
    • A. Yes - you can appeal the decision by following the procedures stated in Regents’ Rule 31003, sec. 2.4. Your appeal must be in writing and addressed to Dr. Juliet V. García, President of UTB, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, Texas 78520. More specific guidelines for the appeal will be included in the terminal letter.
  • 8. Can a faculty member who receives a terminal year letter use UTB’s Faculty Grievance Procedure in lieu of or in addition to the appeal process under Regents’ Rule 31003?
    • A. No. Handbook of Operating Policies, Section 7.7.7.A states that the UTB’s “Faculty Grievance Procedure does not apply to decisions or actions that are reviewable pursuant to procedures provided by the Rules and Regulations or Policies of the Board of Regents.”  Since Regents’ Rule 31003 provides a review process when academic positions are eliminated, UTB’s Faculty Grievance Procedure cannot be utilized.
  • 9. Can I still retire?
    • A. If you are eligible to retire, you may certainly do so. However, if you receive a terminal year letter, the latest date on which UTB will employ you as a full-time faculty member is May 31, 2013. UTB will not extend appointments beyond that date to honor any retirement requests.

      In addition, if you opt into the Faculty Separation Program and your retirement date is effective before May 31, 2013, you will forfeit any rights you have under that program.

  • 10. How do I determine if I am eligible to retire?
    • A. Contact the Benefits Office at 882-7530, 882-8809 or Benefits@utb.edu.
  • 11. If I receive a terminal year letter, can I teach summer school in 2013?
    • A. Decisions on summer school faculty assignments will be made as before. However, if you receive a terminal year letter, the latest date on which UTB will employ you as a full-time faculty member is May 31, 2013. Should the needs of the department warrant the hiring of adjunct faculty, UTB will give priority consideration to those who have received a terminal year letter.
  • 12. For Departmental Review Committee Faculty - If I receive a terminal year letter, can I become a full-time lecturer for UTB?
    • A. Your department will assess its need for full-time lecturer positions. Any former UTB faculty member terminated during this process is welcome to apply for other faculty positions that become available, including full-time lecturer positions. If he/she is qualified for that position, UTB will certainly give him/her priority consideration over other, similarly-qualified applicants.
  • 13. For University Review Committee Faculty - If I receive a terminal year letter, can I become a full-time lecturer for UTB?
    • A. Any former UTB faculty member terminated during this process is welcome to apply for other faculty positions that become available, including full-time lecturer positions. If he/she is qualified for that position, UTB will certainly give him/her priority consideration over other, similarly-qualified applicants.
  • 14. If UTB hires me as a full-time lecturer, for how long will I be appointed and what will my salary be?
    • A. Under the Regents’ Rules, lecturers are appointed for periods not to exceed three academic years. They may, of course, be appointed for shorter amounts of time. Subject to budget constraints, each department will determine the salary that is appropriate for its lecturers.
  • 15. Will UTB offer a severance program or early retirement program?
    • A. A severance or early retirement program will not be generally offered to the faculty at large. However, if the Provost recommends your termination to the President, you will be eligible to participate in UTB’s Separation Program. Further details on the Separation Program -- including the monetary amounts involved -- will be available soon, and eligible faculty members will be notified of their eligibility by letter.
  • 16. If I am eligible to participate, when will any money payments under the Separation Program be paid?
    • A. Any amounts due to individuals who timely elect to participate in the Separation Program and satisfy their responsibilities under the Separation Program Agreement will be paid in a lump sum in late May 2013.
  • 17. If I receive a terminal year letter, but then find another job that begins sometime during the terminal year (September 1, 2012 - May 31, 2013), must I stay at UTB until May 31, 2013?
    • A. No. However, if you opt in to the Separation Program and leave UTB before May 31, 2013, you will forfeit any rights, including any separation payments, due to you under that program.
  • 18. If a faculty member opts into the Separation Program, can he/she still retire?
    • A. Yes. However, if a faculty member opts into the Separation Program and his/her effective date of retirement is before May 31, 2013, the faculty member will forfeit any rights, including any separation payments, due to the faculty member under that program.
  • 19. If a faculty member opts into the Separation Program, takes the money, and finds a different job at UTB during the terminal year, can the faculty member leave his/her current position before May 31, 2013, and keep the money?
    • A. No. If the faculty member opts into the Separation Program and separates from his/her existing position at UTB before May 31, 2013, the faculty member will forfeit his/her rights under that program, including the right to receive any payment under that program.
  • 20. If a faculty member opts into the Separation Program, serves out the terminal year, and receives a payment under the program, will the faculty member still be given preference for open UTB faculty positions for which he/she is qualified?
    • A. Any former UTB faculty member terminated during this process is welcome to apply for other faculty positions that become available. If he/she is qualified for that position, UTB will give him/her priority consideration over other, similarly-qualified applicants.
  • 21. If a faculty member opts into the Separation Program, serves out his/her terminal year, and receives a payment under the program, can the faculty member apply for unemployment?
  • 22. If I receive a terminal year notice and appeal it, can I still opt in to the Separation Program?
    • A. No. The deadline to opt in to the Separation Program will be prior to UTB’s issuance of terminal year notices. Terminal year notices will be issued on or around August 1, 2012.
  • 23. If UTB’s 2013-2014 student enrollment is greater than anticipated, will terminated faculty be notified to come back to work?
    • A. Any former UTB faculty member terminated during this process is welcome to apply for other faculty positions that become available. If he/she is qualified for that position, UTB will certainly give him/her priority consideration over other, similarly-qualified applicants. However, faculty positions will be filled through a competitive application process, and former faculty members will not simply be recalled to work, as in the case of a layoff.
  • 24. If I am terminated from UTB, then find a job in Brownsville or elsewhere, am I still at the top of the list for re-hire as a full-time UTB faculty member if student enrollment increases?
    • A. There will not be any rank-ordered list of faculty eligible for re-hire, but any former UTB faculty member terminated during this process is welcome to apply for other faculty positions that become available.  If he/she is qualified for that position, UTB will give him/her priority consideration over other, similarly-qualified applicants.
  • 25. Please provide contact information for services that are available for employees affected by the reduction in force.
    • A. UTB Employee Help Center – Liza Benson, Coordinator, 882-7172.
  • 26. If I receive a terminal year notice, can I get a letter of reference/recommendation from the President or the Provost to include, at my choice, with job search materials?
    • A. Yes. A terminated faculty member may request a letter of reference or recommendation by sending an email to references@utb.edu. We will be pleased to generate a letter that explains the unique circumstances that have caused this separation.
  • 27. For University Review Committee Faculty - Why was my position reviewed by a university-wide committee?
    • A. As UTB and TSC dissolve their partnership, each institution will assume the programs and services appropriate to its mission. UTB will maintain only those programs that are appropriate for a four-year university, while TSC will assume community college courses and programs. Because community college courses and programs will be maintained and taught by TSC, it will decide which employees it needs to fulfill its mission. As a result, the services of faculty and staff at UTB primarily associated with community college programs will no longer be needed at UTB.

      Additionally, in light of the separation, UTB is preparing itself for its new mission as a stand-alone four-year university with fewer students. Accordingly, UTB evaluated all of its programs and made decisions to re-organize or eliminate some programs and positions to align the curriculum with its future academic needs.

      A university-wide committee was formed to review community college programs, and faculty positions associated with them, for elimination. Your faculty position was reviewed by that committee.

  • 28. Where can I go to get updated information on the reduction in force?
  • 29. When will the separation program be made available to eligible faculty?
    • A. Faculty who are eligible to participate in the program that will include a separation incentive, will receive notice of the program on or before May 23, 2012. Faculty will have a period of time to consider the offer that starts on May 24, 2012 and ends on July 10, 2012.

      Eligible faculty will receive the offer packet directly and are not required to initiate contact with Human Resources to receive details. Sessions have been scheduled at the Employee Help Center on June 7th and 8th at 3pm to provide additional information or to answer questions regarding the program. The program requires that faculty teach at the same rate of pay as that received in the current academic year, until May 31, 2013 in order to receive the incentive amount.

  • 30. Do I, or don’t I have to retire on or before May 31, 2013 to collect retirement benefits from UTB?
    • A. No, individuals who are eligible to retire do not have to retire on or before 5/31/2013 to be eligible for retirement benefits. However, they must make UTB their last state agency in order to be eligible for health and life insurance benefits.

      If you accept the UTB separation offer, you must teach until May 31, 2013 in order to receive the incentive amount. If you retire before 5/31/2013, you will not be eligible for the incentive.

  • 31. When do faculty who receive a terminal year notice have to vacate their offices?
    • A. Faculty who receive a terminal year letter will have an appointment and office until May 31, 2013. If you retire or resign before that date, your appointment will end and you must vacate your office on the effective date of retirement or resignation.
  • 32. What types of benefits are available to retired employees?
  • 33. Will there be any opportunity for faculty who are interested in resigning who did not receive a termination notice to participate in the separation agreement?
    • A. No, currently the separation agreement is for faculty who received termination notices. Early retirement opportunities for staff will be announced in the fall.
  • 34. After retirement from UTB, do I really get a lifetime of health benefits?
    • A. Yes, under current law, health benefits are for life. You may even choose to pay a premium for your spouse’s coverage.
  • 35. If I sign the Separation Agreement, do I waive the right to seek unemployment benefits if I do not find employment after my employment with UTB terminates on May 31, 2013?
  • 36. If a faculty member receiving a terminal year letter does not sign the Separation Agreement, when will his/her faculty appointment end?
    • A. If you receive a terminal year letter, your faculty appointment will end May 31, 2013. Please see FAQ#11.
  • 37. Can I begin employment with another organization in the next year before my faculty assignment ends on May 31, 2013 and still receive the separation incentive?
    • A. The separation incentive program requires that faculty teach until May 31, 2013. As long as the faculty member fulfills this requirement and seeks approval for the outside employment, the separation incentive will be paid.

      Under current policy, the Provost reviews and approves all requests for outside employment to ensure that faculty responsibilities are fulfilled. Approval of outside employment will be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the effect on the faculty member’s primary responsibilities as assigned to his/her position of appointment. The Outside Employment Approval form can be found online on the Human Resources website.

  • 38. If I am a tenured faculty member and choose to sign the Separation Agreement, do I relinquish my tenure on the date that I sign the Separation Agreement?
    • A. No, under the Agreement, tenure is relinquished May 31, 2013.
  • 39. The paper said that faculty separating in May 2013 won't have health insurance paid by UTB after that. Is that true for retiring faculty?
    • A. No. Retiring faculty will have the same ongoing health insurance benefits that any retiring UTB faculty would normally have. There is no effect upon retirement benefits.
  • 40. If I accept the separation agreement and sign on July 10, 2012 is it still possible for me to request retirement on May 31, 2013 and collect health benefits?
    • A. Yes. As referenced in section 8 of the Separation Agreement: “This Agreement is not intended to address or in any way affect Employee’s eligibility for retirement benefits.” Also further addressed in Exhibit “A”:
      “An employee who enters into the Separation Agreement and contemplates retiring at the end of his/her 2012-2013 appointment should confer with his/her retirement program to determine eligibility for and the amount of his/her annuity (if any) or other retirement benefit and the procedures for applying for such benefits.”
  • 41. Will my TRS benefits upon retirement affect my Social Security payments?
    • A. No. Your Social Security retirement or disability benefit is reduced only if you work for an employer who does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary. UTB employees pay social security taxes.
  • 42. If an employee leaves UTB to go work for TSC in a benefits eligible position for 2 years and then decides to retire, can they apply for retiree health benefits with UT?
    • A. A person who leaves UTB to go work for any employer that offers ERS coverage, including TSC, and they are not eligible to retire under ERS may come back to UT for retiree coverage if they meet the UT rules.
  • 43. If an employee leaves UTB to go work for TSC in a benefits eligible position for 10 years thus eligible for ERS retiree health benefits and then decides to retire, can they apply for retiree health benefits with UT?
    • A. No, if a person wants the UT retiree coverage, they should cease employment with the ERS employer before they reach their 10 year anniversary.
      Can they choose to claim benefits under either system?
      No. The law mandates that state retirement benefits be under the last state program where the requirements were met. If a person works under an ERS plan for 9.5 years, they would not be eligible for ERS and are welcome to come back to UT for retiree coverage if they meet the UT rules.
  • 44. Can a faculty member who signs the Separation Agreement be later employed by UTB?
    • A. UTB cannot guarantee employment beyond May 31, 2013. However, there is not a provision in the Separation Agreement that would prohibit a faculty member from applying for a UTB position that is available after that time. Any faculty member who is qualified to apply for an available position can do so. Please note that tenure is relinquished upon separation from UTB and therefore not transferable to a position at UTB in the future.
  • 45. When will staff be notified of the lay-off? Will they be allowed to stay the Spring semester or is lay-off immediate?
    • A. Staff performing functions that end in August 2013, through UTB for TSC, will for the most part be retained until the functions are transferred next summer.

      TSC has said to UT System that it intends to begin some functions before the end of the 2012/13 fiscal year but we are not yet officially informed as to which, when, or how these functions will be taken over. UT System has requested that TSC provide long notice for these so that staff can be afforded as much notice as possible.

      UT System, UTB and TSC are presently working together to schedule the function transitions through August 2013 and will announce that schedule when it is complete.

  • 46. Most employees' salary have increased for the academic year 2012-2013, but not all. If the salary increase is itemized as " market adjustment," why did I not receive one!? Is it because my position is considered for elimination due to UTB downsizing?
    • A. Less than 13% of staff employees received market adjustment for FY13 based on a market study conducted by the Staff Senate and the Office of Office of Human Resources. Increases received were for positions that were below the market value of 87% of Peer institutions. There is no correlation between market increases and UTB downsizing.

  • 47. If I am on the list to be rightsized, can I stop having money deducted from my paycheck that is going to the TRS before I leave? If I am on that list I will be taking my money out of TRS anyway.
    • A. No, participation in TRS for employees in a benefits eligible position is mandatory by state law. Since you are still actively employed in a benefits eligible position, you may not stop your retirement contributions to TRS prior to terminating employment.

Questions or comments?
Contact Liza Benson at Liza.Benson@utb.edu or at 956-882-7172 or click here to send us your question or comment.

Contact Information:
Liza Benson
Employee Development Center
Cortez 118
80 Fort Brown
Brownsville, Texas 78520
Phone: 956-882-7172
Liza.Benson@utb.edu

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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