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Recruitment, Retention and Retirement in Higher Education

Building and Managing the Faculty of the Future

Edited by Robert L. Clark and Jennifer Ma

This volume examines some of the most pressing employment and compensation issues confronting academic administrators. Contributors discuss topics such as: ageing of faculty, changing economic conditions and shifts in faculty employment patterns, rapid increases in health care costs and trends in retiree health insurance, and adoption of phased and early retirement programs.
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Chapter 11: To phase or not to phase: the dynamics of choosing phased retirement in academe

David W. Leslie and Natasha Janson


David W. Leslie and Natasha Janson With the abolition of mandatory retirement, academic institutions are increasingly exploring alternative retirement options for their faculty. Early retirement, phased retirement, and other arrangements extending employment beyond the traditional retirement age(s) are alternatives that have emerged during a period best described as unsettled and exploratory. While approximately half of all colleges and universities now offer phased retirement options to their faculty, phased retirement is still a relatively new development and has not been studied to the point that any clear assessments of its effectiveness are available. This chapter focuses on the experiences thus far of a small sample of institutions with phased retirement policies. Our study, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was conducted during 2003–04 and is based on extensive interviews at twelve institutions and two state systems. We interviewed a wide array of faculty members who had elected for phased retirement and institutional leaders including department chairs, deans, provosts, and system-level executives. We supplemented the interviews at (predominantly) comprehensive and research universities with a survey of (principally) smaller liberal arts colleges. Altogether, we have responses from approximately 150 individuals. This chapter is a preliminary report about selected findings. Our project’s original purpose was to explore institutions’ and individuals’ experience with flexible employment arrangements – focusing on phased retirement. We expected to learn how providing more flexible working conditions for late career faculty might lead to new ideas that could benefit early career faculty who are more often...

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