RWJ Foundation Offers Buyouts

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering buyouts to more than one-third of its employees as it grapples with a 27-percent decline in its assets.

The foundation offered an early retirement program to 105 of its 281 staff members on Friday, June 12. Anyone whose age and years at the foundation add up to 70 is eligible for the buyout.

“Our assets dropped dramatically,” says Adam Coyne, director of public affairs for the foundation. “We’re not having financial difficulties, but we went from a $10 billion foundation to a $7 billion foundation. We lost $3 billion in one year.”

He says the foundation is not optimistic that its funds will make up that drop any time soon. “Think of the time it took us to build our funds up,” he says. “All modeling shows it will take a long time to rebuild.” Robert Wood needs to restructure to reflect its new financial reality, he says.

Employees, who are being given five years of credit, to be added to their age/years of service total, have six weeks in which to decide whether to accept the buy-out offer. Coyne says that all employees who would be eligible for retirement up to the year 2014 were offered a buyout. The offers went to employees “across the entire foundation, from administrative support to senior management.”

Coyne declined to provide specifics of the buyout offer, saying the terms would differ for each individual. He says that at least some effected employees were considering retiring in any case, and that the buyout package would make retirement more comfortable for them.

The buyouts are voluntary, Coyne says. If too few employees accept them, “we will have to make an evaluation,” he says. “We will have to decide what needs to be done.”

In addition to staff reduction, the foundation has cut its travel budget in half, closed a small office in Washington, and sought suggestions from its grant recipients on how it can further streamline its operations and trim expenses.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, College Road East, Box 2316, Princeton 08543-2316; 609-452-8701; fax, 609-627-6422. Risa Lavizza-Mourey MD, CEO. Home page: www.rwjf.org.

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