The university that I work at is asking me to resign in lieu of termination. I have basically been told that if I don't resign I will be terminated. My manager and HR have asked me to send them my resignation letter. In the letter, should I write that I was "asked to resign" as the reason for leaving my position? Or should I not include this? For more context, this is a private university in the New England area.
In the letter, should I write that I was "asked to resign" as the reason for leaving my position?
No, just do something along the lines of:
"I regret to inform you that I will be resigning my position with [blah place], effective on [mm/dd/yyy]." Keep it as simple and brief as possible.
If you are serving a notice period, add that as well if you wish.
Resigning is viewed more favorably than being terminated, so be appreciative of the fact they are asking you to resign versus being terminated.
One thing for you to consider, are unemployment benefits/insurance an option for you? If so check out your state's regulations as if you resign versus being fired you may not qualify.
The university will ask you to do what's in their best interest. You can be reasonably sure that it's not in your best interest. The only times when you would resign yourself are (1) if you want to leave and they don't want to let you go, and (2) if you did something that exposes you to criminal charges, and you are given the choice of resigning or the police getting involved.
If they want to get rid of you, make them pay for it.
If you need unemployment insurance benefits more than a spotless employment history, then let them terminate you. If you need to control your employment history so that there's nothing to explain from this job, then resign. (If you resign, make the letter short and to the point; disregard the 'forced' part.)
They want you to resign instead of directly terminating your employment. They have a reason - it can only be guessed at why.
Use this to your advantage. Negotiate as to what they will do for you to resign as opposed to firing you outright. Severance pay? Continuation of benefits at employee rates for a period of time? Usage of outplacement resources?
Do not tale the HR opinion that you will remain eligible if you resign as opposed to being terminated. Get an answer from your states employment security office before resigning. Do not believe HR - they represent the company and not your interests.