Rider Announces Results of Voluntary Separation Program – The Rider News

By Shaun Chornobroff

Thomas Reddington is beloved by those who know him on the Rider campus. The longtime Veterans and Military Affairs Coordinator is known for making any military-related student immediately feel like a member of the Rider community.

On March 1, Reddington was notified by the school that he was one of 29 Rider employees selected for the school’s Voluntary Separation Program, a cost-cutting measure Rider is rolling out to reduce its debt. allowing full-time volunteer employees to take a financial envelope to leave school. Reddington’s last day was March 4.

“I guess, I just thought to myself, might as well apply and see what happens, because I think if Rider asks people to leave, things can’t be too good,” Reddington said with a laugh. “At the time, I thought it made sense for me to at least apply there.”

Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said in a March 1 campus-wide update that initial analysis showed the program would result in annual savings of $2.5 million, which it described it as “a positive step forward in resolving Rider’s financial problems”.

Rider received 49 applicants to the program by the February 24 deadline, of which 59.2% were accepted. In the March 1 email, Dell’Omo said decisions were based on “whether accepting an application would create ongoing beneficial cost savings for the university through the permanent elimination of this job”.

“When we started the program and said ‘we’re evaluating everyone’s application’, we weren’t evaluating people per se, we were evaluating positions and there are some positions that we thought we couldn’t. just not pass us,” Dell’ Omo said in a March 8 interview with The Rider News.

The large number of rejected applicants came as no surprise to leaders of Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP). The teachers’ union has been at odds with Dell’Omo and his administration this school year, calling on the board last month to remove him.

“The sheer number of people who were denied this buyout shows you exactly what AAUP has always said. They have a list,” AAUP President Barbara Franz said confidently. “They already had a list of names before even proposing this policy.”

Dell’Omo flatly denied the idea when asked by The Rider News.

“If it’s purely a numbers game based on finances and enrollments and those kinds of direct economic metrics, it could have been done in five minutes,” Dell’Omo said. “Just like the voluntary redundancy plan, if we just wanted to cut X number of positions, we would just take any voluntary redundancy request and say okay, we’re going to take it. We assess it based on the needs of the university and determine how we should run the university.

The program is one of Rider’s first big steps in attacking its projected $20 million in the upcoming fiscal year as it tries to make itself financially viable over the long term.

The voluntary departure program is a possible precursor to layoffs. The university’s website explains that unless the voluntary program’s response is sufficient to meet the school’s benchmarks, involuntary separations will follow.

In a Jan. 27 interview with The Rider News, three days after the voluntary departure program was announced, Dell’Omo said the decisions behind the volunteering and potential layoffs were made because of financial necessity.

“We would like to avoid the voluntary and the involuntary. Like I said, nobody likes these things,” Dell’Omo said. “You would like to be able to ride in at least a balanced budget environment, if not create surpluses for the university. It comes to the point where you need to align your budget…hopefully we do this in as sensitive and caring a way as possible for everyone involved in the university.

Those accepted into the voluntary program, such as Reddington, will receive a severance payment equivalent to one week’s salary per year of service that can accrue over a period of six to 26 weeks, in addition to reimbursements for health costs during the period. .

However, any terminated employee will only receive a lump sum of one week’s pay per year of service for a minimum of two weeks and only up to 12 weeks. Terminated employees will not receive reimbursement for health care costs during the period, according to the university’s website.

While Dell’Omo said no official decision had been made on the layoffs, Reddington – a retired serviceman who didn’t depend on his position to ‘pay the bills’ – said potential was a factor. in his decision to volunteer.

“That’s definitely part of the motivation because they basically said, we do a voluntary separation and then we’ll see who applies and how the tokens come down, and then we do involuntary,” Reddington explained. “That’s definitely a motivation to apply because the involuntary would come after that and you could just get fired and leave anyway.”

Earnest L. Veasey