Academic leaders at the University of Arizona have a new budget problem on their hands.

Now that 52 faculty members have accepted a buyout in the first round of a voluntary retirement-incentive program, leaders must decide whether to replace them, cut positions to save money or downsize.

The UA used cash reserves to give willing faculty members one year's pay to retire at the end of the school year.

Provost Meredith Hay said deans will make the decisions.

"They are in the best position, in consultation with their department heads, to know which positions must be filled and which ones can wait," she said in an email.

In schools where several faculty members took the buyout, the decisions could be harder.

In the School of Architecture, for example, three of only six full professors chose early retirement. Two of them had more than 30 years of experience at the UA and two were former administrators.

"The retirement of anyone who has served so long at a university is a loss; the more so with this distinguished group," professor and director Robert Miller said in an email.

Together, architecture professors Dennis Doxtater, Alvaro Malo and Larry Medlin were paid $285,000.

School leaders must use that money to help solve budget problems, but they also need to offer enough classes to meet students' needs, Miller said. The department already has more lecturers than tenured or tenure-track faculty.

In the College of Education, seven faculty members took the buyout.

Dean Ron Marx hired one new junior faculty member and one new senior faculty member - the first time he has hired in three years - to maintain the quality of certain programs.

The school's faculty has been reduced to 53 from 65 during the budget crisis, not to mention efficiencies such as larger class sizes and reducing administrative jobs from 10 to seven.

Marx said he's making up the difference by hiring top-notch teachers who manage heavy teaching loads with no tenure and no research duties.

He's still deciding what to do with some of the vacant positions, weighing the demand for programs, the need for grads in the job market and the quality of the faculty research.

"We'll have to wait and see how the dust settles on our budget cuts over the next couple of years," Marx said.

On StarNet: View a partial list of professors who took the buyout offer at correspondent

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 807-8012.