by Emily Goodell | Staff Writer
Almost 30 faculty and staff will soon be leaving Whitworth as part of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, which is expected to bring $900,000 in reduced personnel expenses, according to the budget prioritization and rationalization PowerPoint posted on SharePoint.
“The program is intended to be an opportunity for employees who might be considering other opportunities,” Dolores Humiston, associate vice president of Human Resources said. “We didn’t know what we would get, but hoped to get enough participants to not have to do involuntary separations.”
Humiston said those involved in the VSIP did not encourage or discourage personnel from applying to the program.
“We made the application available and created space for them to be thoughtful,” Humiston said.
Humiston said the driving factor in many leaving was that they were close to retirement and/or wanted the opportunity to do something different. She said that they are currently trying to discern which individuals will be replaced when they leave. The program is a one-time occurrence.
Humiston said that hiring people to replace those leaving is a loss because Whitworth is losing years of knowledge from committed professors.
“The administrators involved want people to know how much they appreciate them and value the work they’ve done,” Humiston said. “They were interested in doing what was right for Whitworth.”
Raja Tanas has been a professor at Whitworth for 34 years, over half his life. Tanas did not know it was time for him to leave Whitworth, but when he received an email from Whitworth Human Resources last August, he decided to apply.
“It was bittersweet,” Tanas said. “On one hand, I love Whitworth. I love the students. I love the community. That’s the bitter part; I’m going to leave what I love.”
Tanas has been teaching since he was 17 years old, when he taught Sunday school at his church. He said teaching is his life and that he doesn’t know if he can do anything else.
“On the other hand, as the sweet part you know, the Bible teaches us that there is a season for everything,” Tanas said. “As my wife and I prayed about it, we said this is the season for us to close a chapter and open a new chapter in our lives.”
Tanas said it was a difficult decision for him and his wife to make, but that once they signed on the dotted line, they felt peace in their hearts.
“I applaud them for the process they put in place. It was very clear, very straightforward,” Tanas said.
After leaving Whitworth, Tanas and his wife plan to take one or two years to regroup and consider their options. He said they plan to play with their five grandchildren.
“Another thing I will continue to do likely—very likely, actually—is to keep lecturing in public,” Tanas said. “To be an interpreter of the Middle East.”
Tanas said he will continue to write and work on a book that he has been in the process of completing.
“I know one thing that’s going to be extremely difficult for a year or two or perhaps more is when I drive on Hawthorne Road from the west side to the east side, because we live close to the university,” Tanas said. “When I turn my face to the left to look at the campus, I have nothing to do with it or they have nothing to do with me. I am no longer a faculty member.”
Tanas said he feels that both he and Whitworth have received something positive out of this process, with him easing financial pressure on Whitworth and them honoring him for his years of service to the university.
“We will keep Whitworth in our mind and prayers,” Tanas said. “Whitworth will always be part of my life.”
Contact Emily Goodell at firstname.lastname@example.org