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OCC introduces early retirement package for faculty to counter dwindling enrollment

Onondaga Community College

Dwindling enrollment at Onondaga Community College has forced the two-year school to try and trim staff by offering a voluntary early retirement incentive package.

Enrollment at OCC has dropped significantly in the last decade, from about 13,000 in 2012 to just over 7,300 last year. As a result, the Board of Trustees has approved an early retirement package that includes a $75,000 payment and post-retirement health insurance for any faculty member turning 55 this calendar year.

OCC President Warren Hilton said early retirements can bring substantial fiscal savings.

"So if 15 faculty members accept the voluntary retirement incentive package, we will save somewhere between $1.5 million and $1.7 million in our next budget year that begins Sep. 1,” Hilton said.

Hilton added that a survey conducted by the union revealed that maybe more than 15 members will choose to accept the plan.

Currently, 51 out of a total of 142 full-time faculty members at OCC are eligible for the deal. Hilton said this will allow the school to plow that money back into programs, and keep OCC one of the most affordable community colleges in the SUNY system.

Hilton said this move comes at a time when OCC is coping with shifting trends in the local workforce, bringing more new programs on board including Architectural design, Supply Chain Management and Micron-related curriculums.

"At this time our program mix is strong, and you can see from a slight increase that we’ve had this spring semester in overall enrollment, which is the first increase in a long time, that those new programs are helping us generate more interest and solve the problems that our employers have getting workers in critical fields,” Hilton said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.