The Provost’s Office released plans for an enhanced retirement program for tenured faculty members in mid-December after having committed to preserving the size of its Faculty of Arts and Sciences as it stood.

The new Faculty Phased Retirement Plan targets tenured faculty aged 65 to 70 who have worked at Yale for at least 10 years. Under the plan, these faculty can reduce their workload by half for three years and take a gradual pay cut until their salary reaches half of its original value. University officials say the program may encourage professors to retire, enabling new faculty searches and, perhaps, younger candidates.

“The main impetus [for the plan] is an era of slow appointments because of [the] budget,” said Frances Rosenbluth, deputy provost for the social sciences and faculty development, in a Dec. 23 interview. “The main avenue for faculty renewal is getting more professors to retire to free up resources for hiring people just coming out with new Ph.D.s.”

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences must maintain its current size of about 710 members, Provost Peter Salovey said in a Dec. 27 e-mail, adding that “an uptick in faculty retirements, perhaps in response to the new plan, would allow us to authorize additional searches for new faculty.”

The enhanced plan allows faculty working at 50 percent of their former level to earn all of their original income in the first year, 75 percent in the second year, and 50 percent in the third year. Faculty members may fully retire after the first or second year, but must retire by the end of the third year.`

Tenured faculty aged 69 or older may choose to participate in the Faculty Phased Retirement Plan until Aug. 31 and decrease their workload beginning in the 2011-’12 or the 2012-’13 academic year.

Rosenbluth said the plan offers faculty members an “extra incentive” to retire, adding that many professors are not ready to retire in the wake of the nationwide economic crisis.

“I think people are pleased to have a bit more flexibility, but I don’t think there is a stampede to the door,” she said. “The faculty lifestyle is great, and people’s savings took a hit.”

In a release describing the program, the Provost’s Office promised to provide further details in January.