--60 percent of academics are staying on the job into their 70s.
--And 15 percent are into their 80s.
These numbers come from a study done only about New York University faculty and published in the July issue of Educational Researcher. But they conclude that those same stats apply broadly.
No wonder it's tough for young academics to get jobs! And why tenure is going bye-bye.
Back in 1986 when Congress passed the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which made mandatory retirement at age 70 illegal, it exempted post-secondary schools. But in 1993, after the National Research Council said that allowing college profs to keep their posts would have "minimal impact"on higher ed, the government did just that. Before then, only 11 percent of faculty stayed on the job after age 70, perhaps because of special arrangements, the study says.
Here's another surprise ! (but maybe not to some of you.)
Even those who do leave their academic jobs aren't necessarily "retiring." It's the professors who can best continue to be intellectually engaged and financially rewarded, namely those in the fields of healthcare, business and the law who go off to set up shop as consultants.
So what to do? The researchers say there should be a rethink of how to use these professors-who-don't-leave. And it's much the kind of thing that Marc Friedman and his encore.org talk about -- using their wisdom to help younger generations. Here's the new study's suggestion:
Consideration should be given to developing programs to encourage senior faculty who are not otherwise as fully engaged in research and grant-writing as they were in earlier years to focus their activities on classroom teaching, advising undergraduates and graduates, and mentoring junior faculty...These efforts may not only serve to avoid or reduce the costs of pre-retirement packages but also may serve to meet the increased demands for improved teaching, advising, and mentoring without having to hire additional faculty or otherwise expend additional resources.
P.S. The above picture was my father's -- and it's been "under the bed" for decades. Finally, a use for it! It's titled "Portrait -- Artist Unknown" by Lawson Wood. It was done in 1919. Maybe professors didn't have to retire back then. Or they just looked older!