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No Longer Forced out: How One Institution Is Dealing with the End of Mandatory Retirement

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: [Excerpt] Why should academic institutions or their faculty care about the end of mandatory retirement for tenured faculty, which became effective in January 1994? From the perspective of an individual tenured faculty member who wants to continue her career beyond age seventy, the elimination is a welcome event. In the past, faculty members who wanted to remain active after reaching seventy had to negotiate their status with institutions that were under no legal obligation to allow them to continue. Now, however, tenured faculty members have the legal right to continue indefinitely in their tenured appointments. From the point of view of an academic institution, the elimination imposes two types of costs. First, to the extent that some faculty members at an institution postpone their retirements, the flow of new faculty into an institution will diminish. Fewer new hires means fewer faculty with fresh perspectives and ideas. Fewer new hires also reduces an institution's ability to diversify its faculty along gender, racial, and ethnic lines. And fewer new hires can make it difficult for an institution to shift faculty re-sources into exciting new areas of inquiry. Second, retirements generate funds for salary increases for continuing faculty, because most full professors are replaced by lower-paid assistant professors. The difference between the salary of a retiring full professor and that of his replacement can be distributed to other faculty members in the form of salary increases. Postponement of retirements at an institution reduces the amount of such funds available in a year, and the institution must either make up the difference with other funds or reduce the salary increase that it provides for its faculty.

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mandatory retirement; faculty; higher education; academic labor market


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Required Publisher Statement: Originally published in Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors. Copyright by the American Association of University Professors.

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