We offered Late Career Symposium participants the opportunity to ask questions of our presenters, to be answered after the symposium. Below are the questions asked, answered by Carole Goldberg, Professor and former Vice Chancellor of UCLA.

  1. What are your thoughts/feelings on forced retirement?
    Forced retirement is not possible in our system, unless there is a disciplinary action or a finding of incapacity.  Disciplinary action includes sanctions for failing to comply with the requirements imposed when someone has received a negative five-year review.  Those requirements could include undertaking programs to improve teaching, submitting research grant proposals, etc.  Faculty who are in the process of receiving a negative five-year review are informed that those reviews can be deferred if they enter into a Pathways to Retirement agreement. In general, I much prefer creating incentives for voluntary retirement.  Forced retirement is very bad for faculty morale.
  2. Speaking to the issues of trust as some faculty who do not “retire” because they fear that their tenure line will be taken back or eliminated in favor of non-tenure track faculty.
    At UCLA, tenure lines belong to the deans, not the central administration.  When someone retires, the dean normally keeps the tenure line.  Because we are a research university, the deans understand that using the funds for non-tenure track faculty will diminish the research accomplishments and standing of their unit.  So they generally do not do so except on a short-term basis. The key to building trust is openness and sharing of information.  If enrollments are swelling and resources are not increasing, tenure-track faculty may prefer to take on heavier teaching loads rather than release tenure-track lines for non-tenure track faculty.  There should be consultation about such matters.
  3. How have you handled the sub-discipline fear?
    One strategy is to offer recall teaching to the retiring faculty member in the sub-discipline.  This is usually done for a limited period of time, no more than three years at a time.  The cost is usually quite reasonable, because the money is supplementing retirement income.  Another strategy is to enlist their colleagues to reason with them, pointing out diversity value of new fields, etc.
  4. Diminished commitment to sub-disciplines. Sometimes we are witnessing that when the leading faculty in some specialized discipline isn’t more in charge (e.g. through death, relocation, transfer to a new position) the specialized discipline/sub-discipline “dies”. How to avoid it?Academic leaders need to make choices about allocating open positions in close consultation with their faculties.  I realize there can be competition and animosities that play out under such circumstances, but we have no choice but to trust to our ladder faculty to make decisions about the curriculum, taking into account intellectual developments in their discipline, student demand, etc.  In general, broadly-defined searches have a better chance of identifying more diverse candidates, so I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to focus too much on sub-disciplines.
  5. How was emeritus mentoring integrated with formal programs and structures?
    The emeritus mentoring program we established for associate professors was deliberately NOT integrated with formal programs and structures.  It is run by our Emeriti Association, not by the Vice Chancellor’s Office, so that the associate professors do not feel targeted or disrespected.  As Vice Chancellor, I seeded the idea, and let the Association run with it. Using emeriti also helps us avoid drawing on the same senior faculty who serve in our more formal mentoring program for assistant professors.
  6. You talk about the return on investment for hiring emeritus faculty as very high. In the same vein could we not then talk about the use of adjuncts as a high return on investment? Both are, after all, providing a service at a far less the cost then the cost of a traditional faculty or professional staff member would incur.  Should we find those similarities troubling?
    The similarity is superficial.  The return on investment from hiring emeritus faculty is so high because these are faculty who have met our tenure requirements and typically have had outstanding careers.  We are also compensating them on top of a retirement benefit that (at UCLA) is likely to be at or close to their full pre-retirement salary.  And the resources they are releasing through retirement are generally being used to hire junior ladder faculty.  None of those things is true about hiring Adjunct faculty in lieu of tenure-track faculty.
  7. Have you seen any differences with the way men and women have participated in the pathways agreements? Issues they might have raised?
    No, but I haven’t made a systematic study of gender differences.  I like to think that having the Faculty Retirement Liaison minimizes any possible gender differences in negotiating the terms of Pathways agreements, because the Liaison is very helpful in providing faculty with information about typical or standard terms across the campus.
  8. Some faculty won’t even attend retirement seminars and workshops because they are afraid to have others see that they are contemplating retirement. How can the administration help solve this? – Webinars maybe?
    Yes, this happens. Some faculty are afraid their departmental influence will wane if colleagues even get a sniff of possible retirement. Webinars are a fine idea. Having a Faculty Retirement Liaison also helps, because he or she can meet one-on-one in a confidential location.
  9. How to go back when a person is already in the faculty-emeriti- group due to some past health issues which have been resolved, and become a fruitful faculty – engaged member with lecture, advising students at the university, etc. Where to start?
    Again, a Faculty Retirement Liaison can help advise and guide such an individual. The Department Chair has to get on board.  All of those activities are available through recall appointments, with or without salary, at UCLA.
  10. While we have a more diverse group of PhD students, they are more likely to be hired for non-tenure track positions. How can we ensure that the opportunity to increase faculty diversity shows up in the most attractive tenure track positions?
    The campus needs to have a central academic officer who is responsible for monitoring the search and appointment processes, to ensure that positions are defined appropriately and pools are properly advertised for tenure-track positions.  At UCLA, we have a Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a tenured member of our Law School faculty, who carries out that responsibility.