In an effort to bridge UC Berkeley’s budget shortfall, campus leadership released a number of voluntary actions that department faculty and staff can take.
To make up for unanticipated expenses due to COVID-19 while preserving jobs, campus is offering four voluntary personnel actions to help meet budget targets: a retirement incentive program for faculty, a voluntary separation program for staff, voluntary salary reductions and philanthropic contributions to various departments.
According to Rosemarie Rae, campus vice chancellor of finance and chief financial officer, because the cost of personnel makes up such a large part of the budget, addressing this cost must be a central part of the campus’s budget strategy.
“We’re in the people business,” Rae said. “It’s faculty, it’s administrative folks, it’s the graduate students that do a lot of our teaching. That typically equals about 70% of the budget through the division.”
Rae said campus aims to preserve as many jobs as possible. Personnel actions are offered to give faculty and staff the opportunity to mitigate future layoffs.
Vice Provost for the Faculty Benjamin Hermalin said the voluntary options might move people to retire, especially those who have been contemplating retirement for a while.
Campus, he added, is prepared to “smooth” faculty transitions to retirement by offering them a lighter load for spring 2021.
“We really appreciate the staff and faculty we have,” Hermalin said. “If people are talking about retirement now, now would be a good time.”
The faculty retirement program allows faculty members to retire but continue to teach one or two classes. Faculty members would still be paid their retirement plans.
Though staff members are not eligible for the retirement program, they can opt for the voluntary separation program. With this option, eligible staff members would receive an incentive payment for separating from the campus.
“We want to give them a little bit of support because, hopefully, that will save jobs for others,” Hermalin said. “It will be stressful, but we’d like to minimize that stress as much as possible.”
Staff may also request a temporary work reassignment from a division that has experienced a drop in work opportunities, such as housing or Cal Performances, to other campus functions in need, such as testing kiosks.
Faculty and staff will not be receiving a cost-of-living adjustment for the upcoming fiscal year and are encouraged to voluntarily reduce their salaries.
The campus is also providing employees with opportunities to make philanthropic contributions to departments in order to balance the budget.
Departments will be considering faculty and staff voluntary actions when drafting budget proposals to request funds from the campus Financial Planning and Analysis Team.
Budget proposals are due Sept. 4.