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Feeling COVID-19 strain, Bradley offers early retirement to staff

PEORIA (HOI) -- Bradley University is looking for volunteers to take early retirement in a bid to cut costs as they feel the pinch from the pandemic.

In a letter sent to staff that was shared with Heart of Illinois ABC, the university says it's offering a "voluntary separation program" to all employees.

The offer is only good through June 11th.

After that deadline, Bradley has indicated they might have to make additional cuts.

Those who take the voluntary separation option are eligible to earn 50% of their base salary for two years.

The full letter is below.

Dear Staff and Faculty,

As you are aware, Bradley University was experiencing significant financial challenges prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outbreak has only exacerbated the situation. As we anticipate a decline in revenue and student enrollment as a result, we are working through scenario planning and cost reduction models. 

The vast majority of the university’s budget relates to salaries and benefits, and we must reduce these expenditures to operate a more sustainable institution. After much serious and thoughtful consideration, the university has decided to offer a voluntary separation program to all employees. 

This is a limited-time opportunity: the deadline to opt in is Thursday, June 11, 2020

There are no restrictions on age or years of employment. This offer is open to all full-time Bradley University employees. Those who elect to participate in this program must opt in by submitting a signed copy of the attached agreement to the Human Resource Department for evaluation. The university will determine if it will accept the agreement as Bradley reserves the right to limit participation in the program based on available funding, strategic programming and operational decisions. 

The program benefits are as follows: 

1. Upon separation, eligible employees will earn 50% of their base salary for 2020-2021. Bradley will pay the employee in equal installments for a period of twenty-four (24) months, beginning July 2020;

2. Bradley will continue to provide health insurance to eligible employees until September 30, 2020.  Employees will be eligible to apply for COBRA coverage afterward.   

3. Eligible employees and certain family members admitted to or currently enrolled in courses at Bradley University will continue to receive tuition remission benefits until June 30, 2024.   

4. Employees who are eligible for retirement may be eligible to receive benefits accorded Bradley retirees.

Be sure to discuss this program with your family and trusted advisors since it could have important implications for any future plans. 

While this is a very personal decision, your choice also has important consequences for Bradley University. Like much of higher education, we face significant challenges related to COVID-19. We also have a significant deficit we need to resolve. To do so, we have to reduce the university’s personnel expenses. While our culture and community are at the core of who we are, it is almost certain we will need to make involuntary reductions to meet our financial needs. This voluntary separation program allows us to do as much as we can to address our financial needs on a voluntary basis before making any involuntary cuts.

This offer is time-sensitive, and there are currently no plans to offer another voluntary separation or retirement incentive program at any time in the future. I hope you find this program demonstrates our genuine appreciation of both you and your service, as well as the deserving future of Bradley University.

Sincerely,

Stephen Standifird, President, Bradley University

Sheridan Swathwood

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