CHARLESTON — Bill Weber, the vice president for business affairs at Eastern Illinois University, is retiring at the end of May after serving 26 years at the university.
Weber said he saw himself leaving Eastern in late 2014 or 2015, but he added that the state's new pension law moved his retirement date up sooner than he had originally planned.
"There are significant financial consequences if I don't retire in May," Weber said. "I originally hoped to hold out a little longer than that."
Illinois lawmakers voted in December to change retirement benefits for thousands of state employees and retirees. The state's new pension law is scheduled to go into effect June 1, and has an impact on pensions for an estimated 621,000 teachers, state workers, lawmakers and university employees, reduces annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raises the retirement age for workers age 45 and younger, according to a previous article in the JG-TC.
Weber, a resident of Charleston, announced his decision to retire to President Bill Perry and other university officials on April 14 and spoke about it at the Council on University Planning and Budget (CUPB) meeting on April 18.
"I have decided at this time in my life to move on and explore other interests," Weber said at the CUPB meeting.
During the CUPB meeting, Weber said Eastern's retirement numbers for the year were around 70, but said he expects that number to continue to increase, maybe even to 90, due to the new pension law. 60 retirees is an average number per year for Eastern, according to Weber.
Weber added that the pension law isn't the only reason for his retirement. Spending more time with family, friends, his partner, traveling, and working on his photography and Photoshop work, also had a hand in his decision.
"I have mixed feelings about retiring," Weber said. "I'm excited to be transitioning into the next stage of my life and exploring new interests, but I'm also saddened that I won't be in this role any longer."
Weber said by retiring he hopes to focus on his dream of one day opening a small business that would focus on image editing, photo re-touching and comic book coloring.
"There are other interests in life that I would like to focus on," he said. "It's time for me to transition to a slower pace of life and enjoy friends and family more than I have been able to in these past years."
In 1988, Weber joined the faculty at Eastern as an assistant professor of economics and then moved up the ranks to professor in 1995. Weber held many positions at Eastern, such as: director of the Office for Economic Education, associate dean of the College of Sciences, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and university budget director, among others. Weber was named the vice president for business affairs in 2009.
"It really has been a fabulous career here when I reflect back," Weber said. "I have no plans to leave the community. I see this as a transition to a new phase of life. I reinvent myself every five years of my career and now it's time to reinvent myself again, but this time outside of higher education and give my creative side more of a workout in the next few years."
An interim vice president for business affairs will be appointed before the end of the semester, according to Perry. It is unknown at this time who will step into that position.