Wave of CCSU Faculty Retirements to Come as New Contract Takes Effect

Sophia Muce, News Editor

As the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement decided in 2017 goes into effect July 1, many faculty members at Central Connecticut State University are planning to retire.

Dr. Thomas Burkholder, president of the faculty union, CCSU-AAUP, and professor of chemistry, said that approximately 36 CCSU faculty members had turned retirement paperwork into HR, on top of retirements in 2020 and 2021 due to the looming changes and COVID-19.

Burkholder said that July will bring changes to cost of living adjustments, retiree health care, and more for faculty who retire until 2027; the minimum cost of living adjustment will be removed, and those who are not eligible for Medicare will have a 5% surcharge on their retiree health care. He said that many faculty members are retiring now to retain the “slightly better” benefits specified in the 2011 SEBAC contract.

He said the changes were made to “make sure that the state doesn’t run out of money with retirement and health insurance benefits in the long run.”

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not going to make much difference to somebody who’s going to work for another ten years,” Burkholder said. “To somebody who is like, ‘I could retire today, or I could retire next year,’ it makes a difference. So they’re going to choose now rather than later.”

Dr. Kimberly Kostelis, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said she attributes the wave of retirements to the contract change but thinks “our environment of COVID and exhaustion also play a small part.”

According to Kostelis, faculty retirements have risen since 2020 but are increasing significantly this year. She said that Academic Affairs has been working with the deans since the fall semester of 2021 to fill vacancies in the academic departments. 

She has tried to make sure all deans are aware of vacancies at other academic schools. “If I say, ‘we can’t fill this position right now because we need to fill over here first,’ we’re all on the same page,” Kostelis said. “As much as the deans are running the individual schools, we’re collectively working together as a university.”

Since the fall semester, Kostelis said Academic Affairs has been going through large rounds of faculty requests and filling them. “I have had a plan, and we’re still kind of putting some things in motion,” she said.

Kostelis said she anticipated another round of faculty requests after priority registration. “Even since the last time we did the faculty requests, there’s been more retirements,” she said.

She said Academic Affairs has been actively searching for new faculty as current staff file their retirement paperwork. 

“Even if they were hired today, their contract won’t start until mid to end of August,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to try to get out in front of this as much as possible in the fall… I didn’t want to end up having to hire a bunch of people in the summer.”

In addition to hiring new staff, she said Academic Affairs is “thinking differently” about positions. For example, they recently approved a new job that would support both the Political Science and Philosophy Departments.

Kostelis said that students shouldn’t be concerned about the wave of retirements as the current staff is helping to hire new faculty. 

“Our retiring colleagues are very passionate about CCSU, so I know many are very passionate about wanting to make sure they leave their programs and their students in good hands,” she said.

Dr. Paul Resetaris, a professor of manufacturing and construction management, is retiring this summer after a 38-year career at CCSU but plans to continue teaching a course “here or there.”

“I think it’s a win-win situation for the department, students, and myself,” he said.

Resetaris said that retiring is “bittersweet” as CCSU became a home for him and he enjoys working with students. Still, the changes in benefits are “significant enough” for him to retire.

He said COVID-19 wasn’t a factor in his decision and attributed it solely to the SEBAC contract. “I may have stayed longer if it wasn’t for these changes in benefits, but financially, it was maybe a disincentive,” Resetaris said.