Thursday, August 03, 2017


Friday Fragments

The idea of setting some sort of “emeritus” status for distinguished retirees has been bouncing around campus for a while, and it seems to have momentum.

At universities, my impression is that emeritus status is often a function of published research, and/or fundraising.  Neither of those really applies here.  We have folks who have published research, and we’ve fundraised, but neither is at the core of the enterprise.  

Ideally, it shouldn’t only apply to faculty.  I could imagine someone who had served the college for decades in another key role being entirely deserving, but expanding it beyond faculty ranks necessarily raises the question of criteria.

In the context of a teaching-intensive institution, what do you think would make sense as criteria for emeritus status?  What would it mean here?


Well done, Canada.


I know it’s SCIENCE, but “Path of Totality” sounds a lot like a 70’s jazz fusion band.


We’re dogsitting a 90 pound golden retriever, Ralphie, for a few weeks for some family friends.  That means that Sally has temporarily lost “only dog” status.

They’ve been pretty good about it, except for Sally trying to mount Ralphie a few times  (He growls and she backs down.)  They walk together well, looking like a canine version of the Odd Couple.  Sally is Felix, tidy and fussy; Ralphie is Oscar, shambling, shedding, and drooling.  

The real shock for me was the difference in personalities.  Sally has been our dog for over seven years now; prior to this week, I had met Ralphie maybe twice.  But when I got back from Nashville, Ralphie made a much bigger fuss over me than Sally did.  He has that golden retriever “happy to meet you!” demeanor that Sally just doesn’t.  She’s friendly to her peeps, but ‘peeps’ status is earned over time.  

Ralphie has been here for less than a week, but it’s already getting difficult to remember what it was like before.  

Dogs are sneaky like that.

At my last institution, a community college, we had an emeritus designation. The description from the catalog is
Emeritus Status is awarded to full-time employees who retire or for other honorable reasons leave the employment of the College,

*and have completed at least 15 years of employment with the College;
*demonstrated that their job performance was uncommonly superior and that they made significant contributions to the College;
*and have shown evidence of exemplary service above and beyond what was expected of them in the performance of their assigned duties in areas illustrated by, but not limited to, the following: Scholarly publications; community service; innovative practices; prestigious awards(s); meaningful organizational or public office; state, regional, or national recognition; professional or personal activities beneficial to the College; service on college committees; service as advisor to student organizations; sponsorship of College or community-related workshops or conferences. The Aims Community College Board of Trustees confers Emeritus Status.
At some universities, any professor who retires can get emeritus status. Here is the UC Davis policy (which I think is UC wide):

Emeritus status is automatically granted to tenured members of the Academic Senate at the time of retirement.

For those who held an academic position at the time of retirement and who are not members of the Academic Senate, the academic appointee may be nominated and reviewed for conferral of the Emeritus title. Criteria for Emeritus status include:

* at least ten years of University service;
* attainment of the highest rank in the individual's title series; and
* evidence of noteworthy and meritorious contributions to the educational mission and programs of the University.

Many are recalled for part-time work (filling in for one class a year, continuing research part time, or doing administrative tasks that no one wants), but there is no requirement to do so.
Our policy is a blend of the two above. Emeritus status is granted automatically to all tenured faculty when they retire, but with a minimum number of years of service. I think it is 15 years. All of our faculty are deemed to be above average, so there are no additional requirements. I believe it applies to faculty who move into administration (after all, they can always move back before retirement and some do) but have no idea if there is a parallel for pure administrators or hourly staff. They probably don't have a reason to stay engaged with the college.

What you didn't ask for is what they get. No office, but they do get to maintain an active ID that gives access to the gated faculty/staff parking lots and keep their campus e-mail. In my department, they are also kept in an up-to-date phone list, so they get both e-mail and phone invites to all major department events. That is a big plus, especially for junior faculty that they might have mentored. I don't know if they get the faculty "extra class" rate or the senior adjunct rate for extra classes, but some of them continue to teach a class in retirement so they don't drive their spouse crazy.
At my CC we debated emeritus status some years ago, and decided against it. I can think of two retirees from the school who would most certainly have been awarded the title if we had adopted it. Both made truly important contributions to the school, and did so consistently and over a period of years. Both also made their contributions at no small personal inconvenience. They also had earned reputations for being difficult to work with, sandbagging helpless subordinates and marginalizing peers who disagreed with them. I like to think that it was their example that inspired the “no” vote.

I thought emeritus was latin for "retired but trying to get one last grad student through".

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