Understanding the Reluctant Retiree on Campus: Helping Individuals Make the Right Retirement Decision

July 2011
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Summary

Conventional wisdom maintains that many faculty remain in their position beyond a normal retirement age and past the point where they are effective professors. While there are older faculty who are poor performers, there are also older faculty who remain effective. Retirement incentive programs may paradoxically create incentives for the latter to leave and for the former to stay. When the goal is motivating the “right” faculty to retire, programs can not be based simply on age and years of service. The issues are more nuanced, so strategies to address it must be nuanced. This requires a deeper understanding of the reluctant retiree. Addressing the reluctant retiree challenge involves targeting the “right” individuals and empowering them to undertake a careful evaluation of their retirement finances and their life options outside academe. The University of Colorado provides a case study of how this can be successfully done.