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Lower enrollment prompts Onondaga Community College to offer early retirement incentive to faculty

A man sits in front of a podium and a blue background with white text.
Scott Willis
Onondaga Community College president Dr. Warren Hilton announces the new retirement package for qualifying faculty, Feb. 28, 2023.

Onondaga Community College’s more seasoned faculty members have a big decision to make in the coming weeks: Continue teaching or take a voluntary early retirement package. 

OCC is offering a $75,000 payout and post-retirement health insurance coverage for faculty who turn 55 this calendar year and have a minimum of 10 years full or regular part time experience.

OCC’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the package, which also has the support of the union. OCC President Dr. Warren Hilton said a 56 percent drop in enrollment over the past decade was a factor.

“We have more faculty than we would necessarily need," Hilton said. "So we're not affecting the quality of the education. Every faculty member who takes the retirement incentives will allow us to invest back into helping our students be more successful.”

Hilton said if 15 of the 51 eligible faculty members accept the offer, the college would save $1.5 million to $1.7 million per year. He says they plan to invest that money into improving or adding programs, as well as tutoring or other services. Hilton said fiscal prudence combined with federal stimulus money has put the college in a strong position to offer the early retirement package.

“This is perfect timing to offer an incentive like this, because it's not burdening our local taxpayers," Hilton said. "And we've seen other institutions across the country offer these type of incentives, and actually have had their local county or state government cover the cost of it. We're not asking for that.”

The last time OCC made an early retirement offer was in 2020, two years before Hilton became president. But he said the $10,000 payout proved unsuccessful. Eligible faculty have until April 14 to make their decision. Hilton said those who accept will retire at the end of the semester.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at