The Board of Regents today approved a buyout plan for faculty at the University of Northern Iowa that would offer to pay one year of salary and 18 months of health benefits for those who chose that option. U.N.I. officials says the average professor’s salary is $78,000 and the average associate professor is paid $64,000.

Benefit packages for the positions range from $5,800 to $15,000 on top of the salaries. U.N.I. president Ben Allen, says he is not ready to say how many professors are targeted or how much money they expect to save until the have a chance to talk to the faculty about the plan.  Allen says he will talk with the faculty senate today and union leaders Tuesday, and  it’d be unfair to the faculty and staff to name a number at this time.

The U.N.I. administration says they hope plan will allow them to avoid layoffs as they cut the budget. It’s one of several budget cutting moves that includes the closing of the Price Lab school that have led to controversy on campus.

The U.N.I. faculty issued a vote of “no confidence” in Allen late Friday afternoon. Allen talked about that vote today.

“I think that reflects that you have passionate people about this university. It’s a great university, we have differences of opinion on what strategies and what approaches to take to make it better,” Allen says.

“I think a learning point for me of course is that — in fact we’ve taken steps already to work more closely with the faculty senate, to be more transparent in our decision making.” The Regents approved the buyout plan today in a telephone meeting, with all voting for the plan except for Regent Ruth Harkin, who was not on the call.

Eligible employees would have to accept the offer by April 23, and must resign by June 29.