The plan was offered to those who were 59 years old with 10 years of state service; 55 years old with combined age and years of service equaling 75 or more; or any age with 30 years of state service, Owens said.
The early retirement plan is intended to save the college money, Owens said. Shepherd expects to save $100,000 a year over the next two years and $85,000 a year in subsequent years, she said.
The 18 Shepherd College employees had a combined 452 years of service.
"There's about four sides to this sword," Coy said. "Yes, it's fiscally valuable. Yes, they'll be losing valuable people. But it also provides an opportunity to bring in new, fresh-thinking people and it provides an opportunity to take a hard look at programs. It's a wonderful time for the institution to have a rebirth."
Charles Woodward, who has taught biology full time at Shepherd College since 1967, said he intended to retire after next year.
Woodward said that if the number of faculty members who had taken the early retirement plan had been higher, "it would have put more of a strain on the college. Losing 10, I think the college will do quite well. I believe in the long run, the college will benefit from it."
The school has 122 faculty members.
Employees accepted into the early retirement plan are restricted from state government employment, but may earn up to $5,000 a year in higher education employment.
Owens said some of the staff vacancies will be filled by part-time instructors.
Woodward said he intends to teach part-time next year at Shepherd.
Those taking early retirement receive one year's salary or a percentage of it based on their years of service.
The other faculty members retiring are George Casely, Phyllis Eggleston, Beverly Holden, John King, Roger Parker, Ralph Sherrard, George Wilson and John Winters.
The staff members are Betty Cogan, Donald Eby, Joan Manross, Nancy Mong, Irene Moss, Rita Rudolf, Samuel Shade Jr. and Ann Swope.