6 Replies Latest reply on Sep 1, 2010 8:24 AM by dancingtree

    Do late working profs block career paths

    MyR Community Manager

      A NY Times article addressed the issue of tenured professors working well into their 70's and putting off retirement.  How would you react to this question that was posed by the writer: does the practice of working later block the career paths of their brilliant young students?

      Related articles

      1. NY Times: The Professors Who Won't Retire
      2. Chronicle of Higher Education: Economy Slows Colleges' Ability to Hire and Delays Retirements
        • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
          PenniK
          I currently work at a university and most of our professors at well into their 60's and 70's (even older).  They are wonderful teachers and it would be hard to lose them, but the problem is that there isn't anyone to replace them.  They teach a specialized area and no young people are going in the same direction.  As they pass away or finally (for health reasons) can no longer teach, the remaining professors are stretched thinner and thinner.  It's going to be interesting when this finally all plays out.
          • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
            Gerryann
            Hi, I think it really does depend on the individual professor.  Some older professors are truly wise and keep very up to date.  Others are outdated soon after they attain tenure.   I would hate to see a "rule" passed for retirement age in higher education.   I work in a university as a counselor, and I see just as many very young professors become "stale" as older ones.  Younger doesn't always mean better.
            • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
              Beachdreamer
              I think the problem of late retiring professors is two-fold. Yes they do block opportunities for younger more energetic potential faculty members. In this fiscal crisis campuses are not adding new positions, and closing them whenever possible. The other problem is that faculty salaries tend to increase logarithmically, like compound interest. So universities are stuck paying huge salaries for the least productive members of the workforce.
                • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
                  tbm0
                  The problem is not professors not retiring; it is universites eliminating tenure track positions.  When universities do hire into tenure track positions, they hire persons with a number of years of experience in post-docs rather than newly minted PhDs.  Then rather than allow them to develop their own research programs they give them large teaching loads and large administrative loads.  By the time they get tenure, if they get tenure, they are burnt out.  What we need to do is to nurture the young faculty and help them to develop their careers.
                    • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
                      dancingtree
                      This is an interesting discussion. I feel part of my looking at retiring is that I am mentoring the younger professors, especially if it is an area that is specialized. We need both the young and the seasoned but this discussion has come up in my work place, especially with the economic crisis as the newer faculty and younger are often the first to get cut. So it is a big challenge for Universities.
                      dancingtree
                  • Re: Do late working profs block career paths
                    Atara
                    I returned to school at 47, finished my bachelor's degree at 50 and my Ph.D. at 58. I turned 60 last December and am just beginning my career, yet a fellow faculty member mentioned the NYTimes article and suggested that if I continued to teach past 65 I would be blocking the younger generation. My reply: "I AM the younger generation." People live much longer today and academics are notoriously long-lived. Why should an experienced, bright, energetic older professor give up teaching?