SBCC to lose 47 faculty members in prospective early retirement plan

SBCC to lose 47 faculty members in prospective early retirement plan

Serena Guentz, Features Editor

City College’s College Planning Council reviewed the Supplemental Retirement Plan and looked at the list of employees who have enrolled in the plan during its meeting on Tuesday.

A total of 47 City College employees are currently enrolled in the program and are scheduled to retire from as soon as May of this year to late June 2021.

The list still needs to receive additional analysis from Public Agency Retirement Services, the company offering the SRP, and be approved by the Board of Trustees on its May 12 meeting, but Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said he will be giving his recommendation to move forward with the present plan.

In order for the SRP to work as intended, Goswami said the college needs to save at least $1.2 million through the early retirement plan. Once PARS completes the analysis of these results, the college can determine which positions can be filled and which will remain vacant.

“I’m just overwhelmed by the loss of all of these people, so many of whom have made such a profound contribution to our campus culture,” said Katie Laris, chair of the Planning and Resource Committee. “I can’t imagine losing them all at once, but I guess that’s the path we’re on.”

Among the employees enrolled to retire through the SRP are 12 faculty members who will retire this May or June, including physical education professor and men’s basketball head coach Morris Hodges and Culinary Arts Department Chair Randy Bublitz. 

Two faculty members are enrolled to retire in December and 12 faculty members are enrolled to retire in May or June 2021, including Journalism Department Chair and current Academic Senate President Patricia Stark and Director of Student Health and Wellness Laura Fariss.

There are also a total of five administrators and managers enrolled and 16 classified non-managers enrolled, most of whom would be retiring this June.

“How will we even say goodbye to these people?” Goswami said, noting that many employees would be retiring within the next two months while stay-at-home restrictions are still in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Clearly they have served this institution for a long time.”

City College is currently operating under a deficit that is estimated to grow to $4.3 million by the end of June and could increase to up to $7.7 million for the 2020-2021 budget due to the current pandemic.

The SRP was proposed and approved by the Board of Trustees last October in an attempt to decrease the growing deficit. The early retirement plan allows for eligible employees to retire early with a benefit level at 70% of their final pay. 

“This is basically about 10% of our full-time faculty body so we really need to be careful if we let these positions go,” said Academic Senate representative Ruth Morales. “It could fundamentally change the nature of our college.”

When the SRP was originally approved, many City College staff and faculty members expressed mixed feelings about the early retirement plan, with concerns over the quick transitions and lack of proper communications.

“Our intent is we will take this to the board and then after that it becomes official,” Goswami said.

The College Planning Council will reconvene at its next meeting on May 12 via Zoom.