Faculty members who were hired in large numbers during the 1960s and 1970s are now in their 50s and 60s, and institutions of higher education are facing the largest wave of faculty retirements in U.S. history (Sugar, Pruitt, Anstee, & Harris, 2005). The aging of the professoriate in the United States has significant implications for policy makers, administrators, faculty members, students, and society. Crawley (1995) observed that in an effort to manage faculty departure, many institutions have developed retirement incentives such as phased-retirement programs.
Phased-retirement programs have significant implications for policy makers, faculty, and administrators in higher education. This study contributes to the higher-education literature by providing a case-study examination of a phased-retirement program from a major land-grant institution. The purpose of this case study was to explore the impact that individual factors have on tenured faculty members' voluntary decision to participate in the institution's phased-retirement program and level of satisfaction with the phased-retirement program. The case study approach was used because it produced a rich and detailed description of faculty members' perceptions and developed possible explanations of the phenomenon.
A mixed-method approach was used. A survey questionnaire collected data from 141 retired faculty and faculty on phased-retirement, and 99 faculty members from a comparison group. Later, focused interviews with 15 faculty members explored specific retirement decision-making factors in more detail. The questionnaire examined retirement decision-making factors, level of job satisfaction, perceptions of work-life balance, degree of economic security, health conditions, degree of involvement in research, retirement planning, and level of satisfaction with phased-retirement program. Response rate was 66 percent for retired faculty, 46 percent for faculty on phased-retirement, and 33 percent for the comparison group.
Results suggest items such as financial security and inadequate planning for retirement were contributing factors in some faculty members' decisions to continue working, even though they were eligible to participate in a phased-retirement program. The study also revealed that the availability of low-cost, high-quality health insurance coverage was a significant factor in retirement decision-making, and work-life balance was an important factor for faculty members. Finally, retired faculty members stressed the importance of creating a culture of appreciation and improving institutional communication networks with retirees.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. January 2011. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Darwin D. Hendel, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); xiv, 331 pages, appendices A-O.
Johnson, Leslie C..
A case study of retirement decisions of tenured faculty at a public research university..
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