Motivating Reluctant Retirees in Higher Education: Interviews with College Administrators and Senior Faculty

August 2011
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This research provides a deeper understanding of the issues facing academic institutions when age-eligible professors do not retire and how those issues can best be addressed.

Summary

One-on-one, in-depth interviews were conducted with senior-level administrators in colleges and universities that have implemented programs to encourage age-eligible faculty to retire, as well as with professors who have worked past what is typically considered a normal retirement age.

The main reason why reluctant retirees keep on working is that they derive enjoyment and satisfaction from their work. Given this mindset, it is understandably challenging to find a positive way that encourages retirement-eligible faculty to transition out of their jobs. College administrators have an interest in programs to encourage reluctant retirees to consider retirement, primarily as a means of reinvigorating their departments through a healthy degree of turnover. A few schools have tried initiatives other than phased retirement or an early retirement incentive. Most of the suggestions for additional ways to encourage senior faculty to consider retirement focus on dealing with the social and emotional aspects of retiring from a lifestyle as opposed to a job.