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Trustees and Faculty Retirement Policies

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[Excerpt] Large numbers of faculty retirements in the years ahead will provide institutions with the flexibility to reconstitute their faculty along disciplinary and demographic lines. However, many institutions may worry about what the loss of so many faculty with long tenure, who have been committed to and led their institutions, will mean for the teaching and research programs of the institutions and their operations. They may also be concerned about whether they will be able to attract new faculty to replace their retirees during a period in which projected college enrollment increases nationwide will likely make the labor market for new faculty members very tight. Those institutions that are heavily invested in scientific research may also worry about the implications of the loss of senior faculty members who have the capacity to generate funded research and the institutions’ need to find funding for “start up” costs for new scientists. Hence many institutions will want to search for ways to slow down the rate of retirement of their senior faculty, or at least to find ways to utilize some of their retiring faculty members on a part-time basis after they retire. Put simply, retirement of faculty provides both benefits and costs to academic institutions. The trustees of each institution need to make sure that in the years ahead their faculty members and their administration are thinking about how to best address the retirement process. At the very least, trustees should have their institutions look at the demographics of their tenured faculty. It is straightforward for institutions to compute how many of their tenured faculty members are approaching retirement ages and, based upon information from the institution’s recent past on ages at which faculty members retire, the likely number of faculty that will retire each year for the next decade. Given the distribution of fields of these faculty members, the finances of the institution, and the demands for new faculty hires in different areas, each institution can then decide how it would like to influence its flow of faculty retirements. These flows can be influenced by the policies that institutions develop to influence the incentives faculty members face to retire and to encourage emeritus faculty to participate in the life of the campuses.

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faculty; mandatory retirement; diversification; aging


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Required Publisher Statement: Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.

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