Faculty retirement plan goes into effect
In response to an aging faculty and calls for more support for senior and emeriti professors, the University recently announced a retirement plan for tenured faculty, according to a Nov. 27 email from University President Ron Liebowitz.
The Brandeis Pathways to Retirement Plan for Tenured Faculty is “designed to provide enhanced retirement options to eligible full-time tenured faculty members providing the equivalent of up to one-year of their base salary,” according to an informational handout that the University administration provided to the Justice.
The voluntary plan is available to full-time tenured faculty members over 65 who have at least 10 years of service at the University and who have not already signed a retirement agreement. There are three options included in the plan: a one-year option, a two-year option and a three-year option.
Under the one-year option, the faculty member has no teaching or service obligations and receives full pay for a year. The second option allows the faculty member to teach half-time for two years and receive full salary and benefits during that time. The last option allows tenured faculty to teach half-time for two years with 75 percent pay and quarter-time the last year with 50 percent pay. Notably, the University does not offer medical or dental care to retirees.
Participating faculty will also receive $4,000 in research funds, which will carry forward each year until fully spent, according to the handout.
Faculty members may also add accrued sabbaticals to the three options, and the sabbatical may be used to reduce teaching and service obligations or increase the number of years of full-salary payments.
The plan supplements the retirement resources currently afforded tenured faculty, allowing faculty members to plan ahead and phase their retirement over as many as three years, according to the handout.
Eligible faculty members will be able to sign a retirement agreement any time between Nov. 15, 2017 and June 30, 2020, at which point the University will re-evaluate the plan and either extend or modify it.
The plan came after a September 2014 report on senior and emeriti faculty, a copy of which was provided to the Justice. The report, authored by the Task Force on Senior and Emeriti Faculty, called for a new policy that will help faculty members transfer to retirement.
In compiling the report, the task force — made up of Profs. David DeRosier (BIOL), Tren Dolbear (IBS), Erica Harth (ROMS), Sarah Lamb (ANTH), Sue Lanser (ENG), Bob Meyer (PHYS) and Connie Williams (HS) — looked at other universities’ practices and gathered information from around Brandeis.
While the median age of university-level faculty has increased in recent decades and other colleges and universities have responded accordingly, “Brandeis has lagged behind the curve of innovation even though 46% of full-time tenured Brandeis faculty are over 60 and a large percentage of our emeriti remain active in research or creative work,” the report notes.
Specifically, policies are needed to engage retired faculty, aid senior faculty in the transition to retirement and recognize the range of contributions that emeriti can make on campus, according to the report.
Following the 1994 Age Discrimination Act, many faculty members have continued to teach for longer — in fact, the report noted that the number of professors who retired by the age of 72 dropped from 90 percent to 30 percent following the new law.
As of 2014, 46 percent of the full-time, tenured Brandeis faculty and 49 percent of all faculty were over the age of 60.
Many colleges and universities provided for their senior staff and emeriti faculty with new policies and privileges, but “Brandeis does less for its emeriti faculty than nearly any institution we surveyed,” according to the task force.
This lack of support from the University can also contribute to feelings of isolation for many senior faculty members, the report noted.
“Many have lost the comradeship of colleagues even in their own departments, along with a sense of place and intellectual community, at the university where they served for decades as distinguished teachers, scholars, and university leaders,” the report explains, adding that the University, in turn, loses out on valuable scholars.
As of the 2014 report, emeriti faculty were only awarded two rights and benefits: the right to the rank of emeritus/a at the discretion of the provost and the right to attend and participate in faculty meetings without voting rights.
Retired faculty are also able to keep their email accounts, library privileges, parking permits, theater and concert ticket discounts and access to athletic facilities, according to the report.
“What emeriti faculty most need — and what the university therefore most needs to offer its current and prospective emeriti — is concrete affirmation and support for their continuing professional contributions and active inclusion as ongoing members of the university. … The status quo is not a viable alternative either for our senior and emeriti faculty or for the institution as a whole,” the report concluded.