Teaching Faculty Retire Early

Two stalwarts of Phillips Academy’s teaching faculty, Vincent Avery and David Penner, are planning to retire early at the end of this year with the benefits of Andover’s new Voluntary Retirement Incentives Program. The Voluntary Retirement Incentives Program (VRIP), an initiative under the recent school’s budget restructuring, gives faculty the option to retire early with a special benefits package. The school first offered the package to PA staff and administrative faculty last spring, and has now opened up the program to teaching faculty this fall. The deadline for faculty to declare their interest in the retirement program is today. VRIP, which was offered to teachers 59 years and older who have taught for at least 20 years, gives faculty members 70 percent of their final year’s salary for two years after retirement. “That was the most significant benefit for me,” said Vincent Avery, Instructor in Religion and Philosophy, who is one of the faculty members accepting the package. “For me, the choices were to continue to work or get paid to retire,” he continued. Avery has been teaching at Andover for 34 years. “I find the package incredibly generous,” said David Penner, Instructor in Mathematics, another faculty member taking up the school’s offer for early retirement. Penner began teaching at Andover in 1966, after completing his Master of Arts degree in Mathematics at the University of Maryland. Although Penner and Avery have already announced their decisions to retire early, the names and number of all the teaching faculty accepting the offer has not yet been announced. The program also continues to pay 10 percent of the faculty member’s salary into a retirement fund. This policy is standard during a teacher’s tenure at Andover. “I don’t have to draw on retirement funds until 2012, which gives the funds a chance to recover if the market goes back up,” said Avery. “I would have retired a year ago, except for the stock market,” said Penner. “My pension fund dropped dramatically.” Avery said that he had already been considering retirement within the next few years, so the incentivized program did not significantly change his retirement plans. “I had been planning to retire in 2011 in any case, so the package sped it up by a year,” said Avery. “It was not a difficult decision to make.” “I think it’s more difficult for people who have not done any planning to think about taking the package,” Avery continued. The retirement of teaching faculty members will leave some gaps in certain academic departments. “I have some concerns,” said Penner. “I hope the administration will address the impact that [faculty leaving] will have. Some of [the teachers planning to retire] have played specific roles within our departments. I wonder if there will be people who can easily [fulfill] these roles.” “My retirement will not have any effect on the courses offered by the math department. I’m in a different position than most people, because I own a house here in Andover. We can stay in town and not have our whole life turned upside down,” said Penner. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next year instead of coming here at seven every morning,” Penner added. Avery said that next year, he plans to live in Durham, NH, “tending roses and thinking in a relaxed fashion about what comes next.” In the first phase of the program, 26 staff and administrative faculty members accepted the package. According to Steve Carter, Chief Operating and Financial Officer, the school created the VRIP option to tighten the budget and prevent layoffs.