Twenty-four UTSA faculty enroll in Voluntary Separation Incentive Program

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David R. Johnson and Norma E. Cantu

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(Feb. 21, 2012) -- Twenty-four tenured UTSA faculty have enrolled in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) announced by the university last fall. The program provides an incentive for faculty who choose to voluntarily separate from UTSA. Participating faculty will receive a single lump-sum payment equal to their nine-month faculty base salary.

The VSIP was open to full-time, tenured faculty, who have been continuously employed at the UTSA for at least 10 years and who met the rule of 80 (age plus years of service with a Texas state agency equal to or greater than 80); the acceptance period for the program ended Jan. 17.

Among those who enrolled in the program is history professor David R. Johnson, who joined UTSA in 1975. Johnson held a number of administrative positions at UTSA, including as vice provost for academic and faculty support from 2000 to 2009.

"Since I've already sped past 65, I was considering myself a short timer anyway," he said of his decision to participate in the VSIP. "The prospect of spending the last year of my career focusing solely on writing my next book proved too attractive to ignore."

Johnson is at work on a history of San Antonio's development as a city from the colonial period to the present.

Another VSIP participant is English professor Norma E. Cantú, who joined UTSA from Texas A&M International in 2000 to help establish the Ph.D. in English. The program was recognized by Excelencia in Education last fall and will confer its 20th doctorate this year.

"I came here to do a job and I've done it," said Cantú. "I hadn't even thought about retiring (before the announcement of the VSIP). … But, I have a real feeling of completion, a sense of doing what I came to do."

Cantú says she expects to continue teaching, researching and writing. In 2010, she walked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in northern Spain and has plans to write a book about it.

"It's exciting not knowing exactly what I'm going to do next," she said. "Walking the pilgrimage taught me that it's not getting there; it's the steps along the way."

The separation date for the VSIP participants is Aug. 31, 2012. Participating faculty may be eligible to return to the university in a non-benefits-eligible faculty or staff position beginning spring 2013.

"I know that I speak for many of us in expressing my profound gratitude to these faculty for their role in building UTSA into a quality institution of higher education," said John H. Frederick, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "I sincerely hope they all will continue their relationships with the university."