PEORIA, Ill. — The new President of Bradley University is offering faculty and staff members a buyout program, but layoffs also loom.

President Stephen Standifird sent a letter to employees Thursday outlining a voluntary separation program being offered through June 11. Standifird wrote this is due to the negative financial situation the university faced earlier this spring that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Standifird went on to say in the e-mail:

“The vast majority of the university’s budget relates to salaries and benefits, and we must reduce these expenditures to operate a more sustainable institution. After much serious and thoughtful consideration, the university has decided to offer a voluntary separation program to all employees.”

The separation agreements are being offered to all full-time employees regardless of age or years of services. The e-mail outlines the details as follows.

The program benefits are as follows: 

  1. Upon separation, eligible employees will earn 50% of their base salary for 2020-2021. Bradley will pay the employee in equal installments for a period of twenty-four (24) months, beginning July 2020;
  2. Bradley will continue to provide health insurance to eligible employees until September 30, 2020.  Employees will be eligible to apply for COBRA coverage afterward.   
  3. Eligible employees and certain family members admitted to or currently enrolled in courses at Bradley University will continue to receive tuition remission benefits until June 30, 2024.   
  4. Employees who are eligible for retirement may be eligible to receive benefits accorded Bradley retirees.

Employees have to decide by June 11 whether or not to take the offer. Dr. Standifird says the administration plans to hold informational meetings in early June.

The letter states this is a way to limit the number of involuntary layoffs. Dr. Standifird says though he is almost certain layoffs will have to be made to reduce the university’s current financial situation.