A voluntary early retirement incentive for employees in the WSU Retirement Plan (WSURP) was discussed by the Board of Regents in meetings Thursday and Friday.

President Elson S. Floyd said he will refine details of the plan and gather feedback before bringing it back to the board, perhaps at a special meeting to be called in the next few weeks.
 
Classified employees and some AP and faculty are not part of the WSURP, but the university is looking into ways for the benefit to be extended to them. About 298 AP employees, or 20 percent of the AP staff, are in retirement plans other than the WSURP. 
 
Around 600 faculty and AP staff would be eligible for the plan, which is being considered as a way to cut costs in light of a looming budget shortfall. Eligible employees would be those age 55 and over who have been members of the WSURP for more than 10 years. (For information on WSURP, click here.)
 
The plan calls for the university to place $18,000 in a tax-exempt medical expense plan to help offset medical costs after retirement.

The regents also advanced several building projects. The board:

* Approved selection of a general manager/construction manager for the School for Global Animal Health Building on the Pullman campus. The building, which will house the College of Veterinary Medicine’s infectious disease research programs, will be funded through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donated funds.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2010.

* Approved a project to refurbish the interiors of Stephenson North and McEachern residence halls. Funding for the $4.25 million project will be provided by the university’s housing and dining system. The work will be done this summer.

* Approved an increase in the cost of a renovation project that will create a new veterinary clinic on the Spokane Riverpoint campus. The construction budget was increased from $1.5 million to $1.75 million to allow for some additions to the original plan. Construction is scheduled to begin next month.

The regents approved housing and dining rates for 2009-2010. The residence hall room and board rates, which have been approved by the Housing and Dining Advisory Board made up of students and administrators, will increase 5.7 percent.

The increase only affects students entering the system; returning students will continue to pay the rate that was in effect when they moved into the halls.

Apartment rental rates will increase 3.5 percent.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is March 27 at the Tri-Cities campus.