Cornell announces retirement incentives for long-service staff

To the Cornell Community:

Today President David Skorton joins me in announcing two new voluntary retirement programs available to our long-serving staff that will provide them with meaningful options during these difficult financial times, while also helping to reduce overall spending at the university.

The national and global economy has continued to decline, increasing the need for further budget reductions, including postponement of many faculty recruitments and reductions in staff. Because staff layoffs are inevitable, President Skorton and I believe that Cornell University has a responsibility to give long-serving staff members the opportunity to leave with dignity and a measure of financial security.

The first initiative, the Staff Retirement Incentive program, is a one-time-only offer available for Cornell staff, age 55 or older, with at least 10 years of service to the university. The incentives of the program include a lump-sum payment, based on an employee's base pay, and an enhanced contribution by the university to the employee's Cornell University Retirement Plan account. Because funds available for this retirement incentive program are necessarily limited, applications, from staff who want to take advantage of this offer and will agree to retire by June 30, will only be accepted between March 1 and March 31. No applications will be accepted thereafter. Additional information regarding eligibility requirements and other aspects of the one-time-only program are available at

During next week, March 2-6, every eligible Cornell staff member will receive a packet of information explaining the benefits of the offer. Staff who are interested in accepting it will be able to apply by returning the completed applications, included in their packets, to the Benefits Office at 130 Day Hall. If you do not receive a packet and feel you meet the eligibility requirements, please contact your HR representative as soon as possible.

We will accept all eligible applications for the program and will do our best to honor each and every one. However, if the applications exceed the available funds for the program, applications will be approved based on years of service, with preference given first to those with the longest Cornell service. We will communicate all decisions on the applications no later than Friday, April 10.

We are also announcing a Staff Phased Retirement program, which will be available for staff age 55 and older with at least 10 years of service. Through this program, which will begin on March 1 and remain ongoing, eligible staff will be able to reduce their hours with the agreement of their supervisors by accepting term appointments of 20 hours a week for up to three years. A special feature of this program is an enhanced retirement contribution throughout the phased retirement agreement. Staff also will be able to supplement their salaries with their retirement accounts, if they so choose. This option will provide eligible staff with an opportunity to ease into retirement. At the same time, the university will receive the benefit of payroll savings, while retaining the knowledge and service of valuable colleagues for several more years. See for more information.

These options are being offered now because it is clear that Cornell needs to reduce its workforce over the next few years to bring our budget into equilibrium. The university's staff are a very valued resource; these plans will give them an opportunity to consider the option of retiring and, at that same time, allow the university to reduce its payroll through a voluntary workforce reduction strategy. I am pleased that our leadership found a way to offer this choice to staff and believe it is a mutually beneficial option in a difficult time.

Mary Opperman
Vice President for Human Resources