Vivian Taylor, Barnard’s vice president of community development and chief of staff, is worried that on Dec. 4, she will instinctively hop on the 1 train and head to her Milbank Hall office.
“I would have never in a million years thought I would be leaving Barnard,” she said. “It’s been my home, my second home.”
Taylor, who has worked at Barnard for 27 years, is retiring from her current position on Dec. 3 as part of the college’s early retirement program. She is one of 16 administrators taking advantage of the program, which is a part of the administration’s efforts to cut up to $8 million from the college’s operating budget.
According to Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown, the plan will save Barnard at least $200,000 a year. The administration is looking not only to restructure certain roles—for example, by fusing the position of dean of studies with that of the senior class dean—but also to replace more senior positions with lower-paying jobs.
“We are really looking to see where we can consolidate, but constantly looking at how to make sure services are being delivered properly,” Brown said.
Employees have been retiring gradually over the past few months and will continue to do so through the end of the year, a time frame which, according to Brown, has given the administration time to find new hires and prepare for any administrative hiccups. Among those retiring are the campus disabilities coordinator; the director of health services; the associate controller; the dean of studies; and Alan Anderson, the director of mail and print services.
“Most of my life has been here,” Anderson, CC ’68, said. Anderson originally joined the mail and print services department as a machine operator 38 years ago, a few years after graduating from Columbia College.
“It’s going to be a little odd being away from the place,” he said, adding that he plans to audit classes after his retirement.
Anderson, like many of the participants in the program, would have retired soon regardless of the incentives. The early retirement package was offered to administrators whose combination of age plus years of service was greater than or equal to 75, as opposed to the sum of 80 that is usually necessary for retirement. It also promised them the retirement benefits, a week’s salary for every year they have worked up to 26 years, and additional health care coverage for those who have not reached the age of 65.
“It was relatively a no-brainer,” Anderson said.
The administration is also in the process of offering an early retirement package to faculty members who meet the same criteria. Forty-eight instructors, lecturers, and faculty members are eligible for the program and have until mid-December to decide if they would like to participate. According to Brown, the administration is expecting between 10 and 15 faculty retirements, although the 16 administrative retirements were more than Barnard’s original estimates. Each department will continue to work with individuals to establish official retirement dates between now and June 30, 2015.
“Although there are a lot eligible, I don’t think the impact will be that great,” Brown said. “There’s plenty of planning time going into this program and I think that’s really, really important. Administrative positions you can fill more quickly—academic positions you really have to do carefully.”
According to Brown, the faculty retirement plan is likely to save the administration about $700,000 in long-term savings per year. The new hires will begin in lower-ranked academic positions that pay less than tenured professorships.
Taylor—who has worked as Barnard’s Higher Education Opportunity Program director, associate dean for student affairs, sophomore class dean, and associate dean of the Academic Success and Enrichment Programs—noted that while the measure cut costs for Barnard, it also created an opportunity for her to “think out of the box.”
“There are so many things I can do to help my family, in addition to getting this great new opportunity, in addition to still having the retirement plan and offering that goes with anyone that retires from Barnard, and still have this connection and relationship—you can’t beat it,” she said.
Taylor, who will start a new job at Columbia’s School of Nursing as associate dean for diversity and cultural affairs on Jan. 7, said that one of the benefits of her new job is that she will still take the 1 train to work every day to the Columbia University Medical Center uptown, and she can stop by Barnard’s campus any time she wants.
“I’m just so excited, and I can always come back and have a relationship with Barnard,” she said. “I have certainly given to Barnard, and Barnard has certainly given to me.”