The vice chancellor of Louisiana State University's Health Sciences Center recently took a two-week retirement before returning to his old job on an interim basis, a move that netted him a nearly $20,000 monthly pension on top of a $211,000 annual salary.
But Ronnie Smith, 61, who has spent 27 years overseeing the health center's budget and financial affairs, said the move was made at the request of his superiors, and that he had little choice but to retire because staying on the job would have risked lower pension benefits for himself and his wife.
"I am at peace with the decision that I made," said Smith, who retired June 13 and returned to work July 1 as vice chancellor for administration and finance on a six-month contract. "The chancellor asked me to continue to help out and I agreed to do so."
While the move is legal -- it was approved by LSU System President John Lombardi and the school's Board of Supervisors -- the maneuver sheds a light on a state retirement system that encourages some longtime workers to quit state service even if they have several productive years remaining.