Campus & Community

Voluntary retirement program

3 min read

Customized program being offered to 127 eligible FAS faculty; four graduate, professional Schools unveil similar plans

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) offered a customized voluntary retirement program today (Dec. 2) to 127 eligible faculty members. At the same time, four of Harvard’s graduate and professional Schools — Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Divinity School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education — were unveiling similar plans to eligible faculty.

Each School designed its one-time program to meet the specific needs of its faculty members, some of whom have been contemplating the next stage of their academic careers.

Although there are differences in the plans, the five programs share similarities. Each offers a range of options. Eligible faculty who are ready to retire can do so in the next academic year, while others can wind down their teaching and research careers over several years. Faculty at the participating Schools must sign up by the deadline of June 30, 2010.

“I am committed to supporting faculty members at every stage of their careers, from the day they enter the tenure track to the time they decide to transition into emeritus status,’’ said Dean Michael D. Smith of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “The program FAS is offering is designed to be flexible, so that eligible faculty who are interested in participating will be able to choose an option that suits them best.”

The Office of Faculty Development & Diversity worked closely with the Schools to provide analyses of retirement programs at peer institutions and assess the resources needed to offer the programs. Across the University, about 180 faculty members are eligible to participate in the Schools’ programs.

“These programs aim to support faculty renewal and provide an opportunity for long-serving faculty to make plans for staged retirement, consistent with their preferences and economic circumstances,’’ said President Drew Faust.

The retirement programs were designed in response to expressions of interest from faculty members, and were crafted with the understanding that Harvard’s faculty members seek in retirement not an end to their relationships with their Departments, their Schools, and the University, but rather a new beginning, marked by opportunities for personal and intellectual renewal following years of dedicated service.

“For our School, having an umbrella program creates a transparent and equitable array of options for senior faculty who are considering retirement,’’ said Dean Kathleen McCartney of the Graduate School of Education. “It also affords the time to renew the senior faculty in response to planned retirements.”

The Harvard Business School already has a robust faculty retirement program in place. Other Schools — the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard Law School — are continuing with existing plans for faculty renewal while also managing for planned and anticipated retirements.

“In part because of our size, our approach is to work with individual faculty as they approach retirement age to discuss what might make the most sense for the faculty member and the School,” said Dean David Ellwood of the Harvard Kennedy School. “But we would like to use this occasion to encourage a larger discussion of our current set of retirement options and incentives and to discuss the situation facing faculty who are at or near traditional retirement ages.”