WMU Voluntary Early Retirement Plan FAQs

The WMU Voluntary Early Retirement Plan is specifically designed to help WMU reduce budgetary demands and faculty numbers by incentivizing eligible faculty to separate and retire from the University.  In general, it is not in the interest of WMU continue to employ or re-employ faculty in new positions who have received a financial incentive to retire. However, there are roles possible at the University for emeriti faculty who qualify. The FAQs below address some of the questions we have received concerning continuation of the research-related activities and service of faculty in regard to retirement.  It is noted that any proposed position offered to an emeriti faculty must be first approved by the University Hiring Exception Review Committee.


Is it possible for me to teach classes for WMU after I retire? 

Emeriti faculty are permitted to teach as non-benefitted temporary employees or serve in other voluntary instructional roles, upon the approval of chair/deans.  All positions must first be approved the University Hiring Exception Review Committee. 


If I were to retire, what exactly would happen to my WRAP/IDC funds? 

When you leave the university, assuming you have a positive balance, WMU practice reverts all WRAP/IDC and other related funds in those accounts, such as contract residuals, to the department.  For an administrator, it is returned to their college or VP unit as appropriate.  Any deficit is covered by the same units.

I am PI on an IRB protocol but want to continue the work, can that happen? 

Per our policy Emeritus Faculty (with department appointment and at the discretion of the WMU IRB) you can be PI of an IRB protocol after retiring.  This would require an update to the IRB via a request for post-approval change and should lay out how the files will be held secure and who will have access (i.e., only those individuals listed on the approved protocol).  If the retiree is not the PI they should work with the PI of the protocol and a post-approval change would still be required to participate.

Can I still have access to my sponsored research data if I retire? 

Both scholarly works and digital materials created by the faculty member are owned by the faculty member per Article 43.§3.1 in the WMU-WMU/AAUP Agreement. Data from certain externally funded grants may be more restricted, and all human subjects related data must be handled in accordance with IRB protocols in all cases.  Data that is in any way controlled, as an original condition of the funding agency, likely CANNOT be accessed by retired faculty, and access to many external datasets may not be allowable at all.  For IRB-approved studies, this would require an update to the IRB via a request for post-approval change and should lay out how the files will be held secure and who will have access (i.e., only those individuals listed on the approved protocol).  If the retiree is not the PI, they should work with the PI of the protocol and a post-approval change would still be required to participate.  This may be restricted to a de-identified data set; the original data with identifiers remains at the university.

I applied for an external grant (new or renewal) but won’t know if it is funded, can I be hired back on that grant in an R position? Or as an additional investigator?

Information on the R4 position is available at https://wmich.edu/hr/research4.  Note that benefits for a R4 emeritus researcher are by virtue of their retirement from another position at the University.  This position is for individuals who have retired from the University but who wish to continue to conduct research through externally funded projects.  Like other university appointments this is best discussed with the chair and dean, as the availability of the effort, space and resources required by the project must be provided.   ORI is available to help department staff determine for existing grants any issues related to the change in status.

I currently am PI or Co-PI on an active grant that will not end before I retire. Can I continue on the grant?  

See above. You also have the option of naming a replacement PI if you do not want to continue with the grant.  ORI is happy to help with this process.

Can I submit a grant or remain PI/Co-PI as a retired faculty member at WMU?

WMU has designated individuals in the following additional categories as being eligible to serve as a PI or co-Pl as long as they address any required restrictions as shown below:

Emeritus Faculty (see restrictions below)

  • Emeritus (Retired) Faculty as Pl: Some faculty members wish to continue research programs after retirement from the University. It may be possible for Emeriti to serve as the Pl or Co-PI on a submitted proposal with the approval of the department chair to assure University-related considerations are taken into account, including the space and other resources necessary to conduct the project are available.
  • Definition: Emeritus faculty are faculty members who were tenured and have retired from the University.

I have a computer/lab equipment/ etc. that was purchased with external funds (or an internal grant). Can I take it with me when I retire?

All equipment purchased on an external grant or internal grant (like FRACAA) is property of WMU and cannot be removed. 

If I have a human subject research study that will close when I retire, where is the data stored and for how long?

All research data, including consent documents, must be retained for at least 3 years, after the study closes. Study data, consent documents, and other materials may be sent to ARCHIVES for the retention period. Contact the Curator Archives at University Libraries for instructions.


Can emeriti faculty serve on graduate student thesis or dissertation committees?

Yes. Retired faculty can continue to serve on graduate student thesis or dissertation committees. Upon retirement, graduate faculty status is changed to associate graduate faculty status, which allows serving on graduate student committees and teaching graduate-level courses. When their current graduate faculty status expires, emeriti faculty may apply for associate graduate faculty status to continue these activities. Details on the application process can be found at https://wmich.edu/grad/faculty-staff.

Can a retired faculty member continue to serve as chair of a graduate student thesis or dissertation committee?

If the committee form indicating the retiring faculty member as chair was submitted and approved when the faculty member had active full graduate faculty status, the retiring faculty member may remain as chair, as long as the student is near completion of their program. If the student has several years remaining, it is recommended that another chair be selected and the retiring faculty member become a committee member. A retired faculty member may not take on new responsibilities as dissertation/thesis committee chair, since new committee forms must show a current faculty member with full graduate faculty status as chair. 

Am I able to continue supervising graduate student's research or will I need to transfer that to another faculty member? Does the student then need to identify a third faculty member for their committee? 

Emeritus faculty may remain engaged in a graduate student’s research, but unless the student is near completion of their degree program another faculty member should take over responsibility to supervise the student’s research. Graduate thesis/dissertation committees must consist of three faculty members, as outlined in the Graduate Catalog.

What happens to the undergraduate student's independent study if I retire?

Emeritus faculty may remain engaged in an undergraduate student’s research, but another faculty member should take over primary responsibility for the project.

General Questions

How do I initiate my retirement from WMU under the VERP?

  1. Consult the information provided at https://wmich.edu/hr/earlyretirement
  2. You will need to complete the VERP application and return it to Dr. Warren Hills, WMU Human Resources at the address provided in the application.
  3. You will need to write a letter to notify Western of your decision to retire, and the effective date on which you wish to retire.

How do I apply for emeriti status?

A faculty member who desires to retire with emeriti status may request that they be considered for emeriti status in their written letter notifying Western of their intent to retirement (see Article 35.2 in the Agreement).

What benefits do I qualify for as a WMU retiree?

Your benefits are described in Article 35 and 36 in the WMU-WMU/AAUP Agreement.

What steps do I need to take to access my retirement savings/social security/state pensions (TIAA, MPSERS, Social Security)?

Info is available at: https://wmich.edu/hr/earlyretirement