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UNM offers early retirement to some employees to save money

A student walks through the Cornell Mall at the University of New Mexico on Tuesday. As it faces budget cuts, the university is asking hundreds of employees to consider retiring early. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Hundreds of University of New Mexico employees have been asked to consider retirement as part of an effort to curb costs after a budget cut at the state’s flagship university.

UNM recently sent out information to 628 employees asking them to consider a “Voluntary Retirement Incentive Option,” which will pay a lump sum of up to 25% of the base salary to faculty or staff who choose to retire, Daniel Jiron, a spokesman for the university, said in an email.

He said UNM’s administration approved the program after obtaining agreement from the unions at UNM.

Jiron said that UNM sent notices to 628 employees but that additional employees could be eligible because of prior employment. The university is holding virtual town halls for employees throughout the month to discuss the program.

Jiron said the program will be funded with savings from those who choose to participate, so the university doesn’t have an estimate of how much it will cost or ultimately save.

But it is an effort to address recent budget cuts and expected future cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a web page created about the program, which is voluntary.

“The program provides an incentive payment to retiring individuals that is designed to ultimately achieve a cost savings for the University,” the web page says. “Similar to other universities, UNM is experiencing budget cuts and expects future reductions in spending due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Already, UNM is having to rework its finances because of declining revenues linked to the pandemic.

UNM’s state appropriation was cut by about $22 million during a special session this year. The school’s overall main campus operating budget is dropping from $905 million to $872 million after accounting for that and other revenue losses because of, among other things, declining enrollment and lack of athletic ticket revenue.

Campus officials said they will work with different groups on campus as they create specific details about how they will make those cuts.

Representatives with UNM’s faculty union and staff council didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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