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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education ENDING MANDATORY RETIREMENT FOR TENURED FACULTY The Consequences for Higher Education P. Brett Hammond and Harriet P. Morgan, Editors Committee on Mandatory Retirement in Higher Education Ralph E. Gomory, Chair Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1991
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL 2101 CONSTITUTION AVENUE WASHINGTON D.C. 20418 OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN May 21, 1991 Honorable Evan J. Kemp, Jr. Chairman Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Washington, D.C. Dear Mr. Kemp: The Committee on Mandatory Retirement in Higher Education was charged with examining the potential effects on colleges and universities and faculty members of ending the current exemption for tenured faculty in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In estimating the potential effects of no longer allowing a mandatory retirement age of 70 for faculty, the committee has reviewed faculty demographic trends, evidence on age and performance, and faculty retirement policies, both at institutions that have eliminated mandatory retirement already and those that have not. The committee concludes that the preponderance of the evidence does not justify continuing the exemption of tenured faculty from the overall federal policy of prohibiting mandatory retirement on the basis of age. The committee notes, however, that a change will not have consistent effects across the college and university community. The committee concludes that this change is unlikely to affect the vast majority of colleges and universities because most faculty members now retire well before age 70. At a few research universities, however, a high proportion of faculty now work until age 70, and they may well choose to work past that age if mandatory retirement is eliminated. In order to play their key role in maintaining the cutting edge of American science, research universities need constant reinvigoration of their faculties, particularly through the addition of scholars in emerging fields. Faculty turnover has traditionally given universities the flexiblity to hire in developing fields. With the diminished turnover likely from the elimination of mandatory retirement for older faculty members, it will be more costly for these research universities to hire new faculty. THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL IS THE PRINCIPAL OPERATING AGENCY OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING TO SERVE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education The committee has examined the issue of faculty turnover and concludes that a number of actions can be taken by affected universities to encourage rather than mandate selected faculty retirements. Though not cost free, the proposed changes are likely to enhance faculty turnover. Foremost among them is the use of retirement incentive programs, common in industry and now becoming more widely implemented in higher education. The committee calls on Congress and the relevant agencies to "permit colleges and universities to offer faculty voluntary retirement incentive programs that: are not classified as an employee benefit, include an upper age limit for participants, and limit participation on the basis of institutional needs." The committee also recommends policies that would allow universities to change their pension, health, and other benefit programs in response to changing faculty retirement behavior and needs. The costs of such programs will not be easy for research universities to shoulder, especially in the context of a number of other factors that are exerting intense financial pressure on them. Increased need for financial aid has largely been met by institutional funds; research instrumentation and facilities need upgrading and replacement; new tax laws have limited fund raising; tax-exempt borrowing has been curtailed; expensive benefit program changes have resulted from recent tax and accounting regulations; and tuition increases are encountering increased resistance. In this context, the nation's research universities may have difficulty finding room in their budgets for even small cost increases resulting from the elimination of mandatory retirement. Thus, we draw particular attention to the committee's recommendations calling on Congress and regulatory agencies to assist research universities in minimizing the potential adverse effects of eliminating mandatory retirement for tenured faculty. These universities support work at the very heart of the American system of basic research. The committee has recommended policies that are sensitive to the importance of that system, as well as to national policy on age discrimination. Sincerely yours,
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The project that is the subject of this book was supported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 91-61424 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04498-7 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 S355 Printed in the United States of America First Printing, May 1991 Second Printing, September 1991
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education COMMITTEE ON MANDATORY RETIREMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION RALPH E. GOMORY (Chair), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York NORMAN M. BRADBURN, University of Chicago and National Opinion Research Center, Chicago DAVID W. BRENEMAN, Harvard University F. ALBERT COTTON, Texas A&M University MARY W. GRAY, American University DONALD C. HOOD, Columbia University ROBERT M. O'NEIL, University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, Charlottesville, Virginia ROBERT E. PARILLA, Montgomery College MITCHELL W. SPELLMAN, Harvard Medical School P. BRETT HAMMOND, Study Director PAMELA EBERT FLATTAU, Study Codirector (to June 1990) DOROTHY M. GILFORD, Senior Technical Adviser HARRIET P. MORGAN, Research Associate GALE M. MOORE, Administrative Associate CAROL PALMA, Administrative Secretary SUELLEN LUDWIG CRANO, Consultant GARY W. SELNOW, Consultant ELLEN TENENBAUM, Consultant
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education Contents PREFACE xi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xvii EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION: FACULTY RETIREMENT AND AGE DISCRIMINATION 7 Tenure and the Faculty Exemption 8 Tenure in Higher Education Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Its Amendments The Committee's Study: Scope and Issues 13 The Committee's Activities Issues and Report Structure 2 EFFECTS OF UNCAPPING ON FACULTY RETIREMENT 21 Estimating the Proportion of Faculty Who Would Work Past Age 70 23 Faculty Near Retirement Age Faculty Likely to Work Past Age 70 Conclusions Variation in Faculty Retirement Patterns 29 Estimating the Effects of Uncapping at Three Universities 38 Constant Faculty Size Constant Budget Constant Hiring Analysis of Projected Effects Conclusions
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education 3 FACULTY PERFORMANCE AND INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY 49 Effects of Age on Performance 50 Overall Abilities and Age Measuring Faculty Performance Evaluation of Faculty Members 59 The Extreme Cases: Faculty Dismissal 63 4 PENSIONS, RETIREMENT PROGRAMS, AND COSTS 67 Pensions 68 Goals Types of Pension Plans Incentives to Postpone Retirement The Need for Inflation Protection and Secure Income Health Benefits 82 Continued Faculty Perquisites for Retirees 85 Retirement Planning 88 5 RETIREMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAMS 91 Types of Formal Programs 91 Costs and Benefits of Formal Programs 94 Individual Buyouts 98 Conclusions and Recommendations 99 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 103 Effects of Eliminating Mandatory Retirement 103 Two Key Conclusions Consequences for Institutions and Faculty Retirement Policies 106 Retirement Incentive Programs Pensions Health Benefits Faculty Perquisites for Retirees and Retirement Planning Assistance The ADEA Exemption 110 APPENDICES 113 A Description of Study Methods 113 B Discussion of National Faculty Data Bases 122 C Characteristics of Institutions and Faculty 128 D Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 137 REFERENCES 141
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education TABLES AND FIGURES Tables 1 Faculty Age Profile, 1979–1989 (in percent) 25 2 Regular Full-Time Instructional Faculty in U.S. Institutions of Higher Education by Age, Gender, and Race or Ethnicity 26 3 Faculty Who Retired at Age 70 or Older at Selected Universities 37 4 Effects of Uncapping Projected by Faculty Flow Models for Three Universities (A, B, C) 40 5 National Institutes of Health Research Grant Holders, by Year of Birth, 1987 and 1989 56 6 Effects on Pension Income of Working an Additional 1 or 2 Years 77 A-1 Committee Activities 114 A-2 Characteristics of National Faculty Data Bases 123 A-3 Faculty Characteristics by Type of Institution 134 A-4 Average Faculty Salaries, 1990–1991 (in dollars) 135 A-5 Unionized Institutions by Type and Control 136 Figures 1 Faculty age profiles from three surveys 24 2 States that have eliminated mandatory retirement 27 3 Faculty age profiles by type of institution 31 4 Faculty age profiles by field 32
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education Preface As part of the 1986 amendments to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibiting mandatory retirement ages for most workers, Congress permitted colleges and universities to continue requiring tenured faculty members to retire at age 70 until 1994. It did so in response to two concerns from parts of the higher education community: (1) postponed faculty retirements would prevent colleges and universities from hiring new faculty who are traditionally a source of new ideas, and (2) an aging professoriate would grow increasingly ineffective but unremovable because of tenure. Either of these possibilities could adversely affect the quality of research and teaching in the nation's colleges and universities. In particular, those who recognize the importance of strengthening the nation's basic research system were concerned about the effects on the research universities of having more older faculty members. In granting higher education an extension of mandatory retirement, Congress directed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ask the National Academy of Sciences to form a committee to study the consequences of eliminating mandatory retirement for tenured faculty. The committee was asked to conduct its study while the temporary exemption was in effect and to report its findings to Congress prior to the expiration of the exemption. This is the committee's report. The committee was well aware of the difficulty of its task. It was asked to assess the future effects of removing mandatory retirement not only on a few famous schools but on more than 3,200 colleges and universities across the United States. These institutions include 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities. They include those that give top priority to undergraduate teaching and those that emphasize research and the training of future scholars, as well as specialized schools of medicine, law, business,
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education religion, and the arts. Some of these institutions are well endowed, some are poor, some are growing rapidly, and others barely survive. To respond to its charge from Congress, the committee was also asked to examine the behavior, under new circumstances and at a future date, of nearly 300,000 current tenured faculty as well as an unknown number of future faculty members. This task involves complex human issues that do not admit of simple resolution. Prior to the committee's first meeting, the staff, accompanied in some cases by the chair, conducted a series of site visits to colleges and universities to get a preliminary view of the issues. In October 1989, at the first of its seven meetings, the committee followed the instructions of Congress by hearing presentations from a number of organizations with a direct interest in policies governing mandatory retirement. The committee's first major activity was to write to the presidents of 358 universities and colleges selected as a representative sample of institutional types. The letters were based on the committee's initial views of the issues raised by the elimination of mandatory retirement and asked for the presidents' comments on those and any other issues. The committee also sent similar letters to heads of faculty senates at the 216 colleges and universities in this group that had a faculty senate or equivalent organization. The responses to both sets of letters helped confirm our initial perceptions of the issues, provided new insights, and emphasized the variety of views held by faculty and administrators. The committee then conducted 17 in-depth case studies of individual colleges and universities, selected to represent a range of institutional types. Staff, usually accompanied by committee members, visited each case study institution for interviews with faculty and administrators. The case study institutions also provided data on their faculty age distributions, retirement patterns, and institutional retirement policies. The committee also reviewed available evidence in three separate broad areas of concern: faculty demographics and retirement behavior; the effects of aging on faculty performance; and financial and legal issues. In each area we reviewed evidence from researchers and practitioners on both the nature of the situation and the range of possible policy responses to any problems identified. This evidence included five commissioned papers, three workshops, literature reviews, and analyses of national faculty data bases. In some cases, we obtained evidence from individual colleges and universities rather than aggregate data. In other cases, we had faculty and administrators' accounts of their experiences rather than research results. We have used these additional sources, as well as our own years of experience as faculty, administrators, and trustees, to supplement our review of the literature and analysis of national faculty data bases. The effects of eliminating mandatory retirement depend on the number
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education of faculty who change their retirement behavior and the extent to which their behavior changes. Those university presidents who saw the removal of mandatory retirement as a major problem were alarmed by the prospect of large numbers of faculty deferring retirement for a number of years. They expected the continued employment of older and usually higher-salaried professors to create financial problems. They also expected difficulty maintaining the quality of their institutions if a decrease in the number of faculty retiring limited hiring and promotion of new faculty with new views and new areas of research. A simple hypothetical example illustrates the quantitative aspect of concerns about costs and turnover. Costs could increase or turnover could decrease if allowing faculty to continue to work past age 70 leads to an increase in the average faculty retirement age. If we assume that the average career length of a faculty member is 35 years, then each year shift upward in the average age of retirement will produce an increase of a little less than 3 percent in average faculty career length and a corresponding 3 percent decrease in hiring new faculty to replace retiring faculty. This example, as well as the more sophisticated models we present in Chapter 2, indicates that several years' shift in the average retirement age would be required to make a major impact on colleges and universities and on career prospects for individual faculty members. To assess the magnitude of potential changes in faculty retirement behavior, the committee examined data on the proportion of faculty reaching traditional retirement ages (60 and older) in the coming decades, the ages at which faculty now retire, and, more specifically, the ages at which faculty retire at colleges and universities that have already eliminated mandatory retirement. Although the last source of evidence is limited, the experiences of uncapped colleges and universities provide some direct information on faculty retirement patterns in the absence of a mandatory retirement age. The committee also examined data on changes in faculty retirement behavior that occurred when the mandatory retirement age was raised from 65 to 70 in 1982. Studies and surveys conducted by a number of authors, notably Lozier and Dooris (1990) and Rees and Smith (1991), gave us further insight into faculty retirement behavior. Our understanding of the variance in faculty retirement behavior across institutions, as well as of faculty retirement patterns, was also enhanced by studies of faculty retirement patterns shared with us by individual universities. Concern about the effects on research and education of eliminating mandatory retirement for tenured faculty stems partially from the belief that older faculty are less effective in the classroom or as scholars but are sheltered from dismissal by the tenure system. Some faculty and administrators expressed concern that colleges and universities would abolish the tenure
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education system rather than allow it to shelter poorly performing faculty working past age 70. The committee developed background on this issue by holding a workshop attended by experts on the effects of aging, reviewing literature on age and performance, and commissioning a paper on the legal issues related to tenure and faculty dismissal. Some faculty and administrators suggested that in the absence of a mandatory retirement age, colleges and universities would be obliged to rely more heavily on faculty evaluation and dismissal of older faculty whose performance was no longer adequate. Therefore, we also reviewed evidence on evaluating and dismissing tenured faculty as ways for colleges and universities to address issues of declining performance and the need for faculty turnover. Faculty are less likely to retire if they believe their retirement incomes are inadequate, their health care costs could be prohibitive, and, in some cases, if they will lose access to colleagues, students, and institutional facilities such as library privileges, office and laboratory space, and secretarial and computer support. Faculty may also retire later if they have a retirement plan whose financial rewards rise rapidly with each year of additional service. Therefore, the committee examined the effects of college and university retirement benefits on faculty retirement behavior. In addition to reviewing the literature on pension programs, health benefits, and other benefits for retired faculty, we commissioned a paper on legal issues in changing faculty pension policies and a paper on the costs of offering continued faculty benefits to retired faculty. We also held a workshop at which university business officers, personnel and other administrators, experts on higher education and aging, and experts on the financial and legal aspects of retirement discussed faculty retirement policies and programs. We collected additional information on the costs and effects of faculty retirement policies from individual colleges and universities, including our 17 case study institutions. Unlike other faculty retirement policies, retirement incentive programs are specifically designed to encourage faculty turnover. Many colleges and universities already offer formal retirement incentive programs or individualized retirement incentives as a way to encourage faculty members to retire. The committee reviewed evidence on the effectiveness of retirement incentives and on the range of program designs available, including two commissioned papers reviewing the costs and legal regulations governing retirement incentive offers, literature on retirement incentive plans, additional evidence from individual colleges and universities offering retirement incentive programs and individual retirement incentives, and the discussion of experts at our workshop on the financial and legal issues of eliminating mandatory retirement. In doing all its work, the committee has kept in mind that Congress did
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education not ask us to rethink the rights and wrongs of mandatory retirement. Although mandatory retirement was until recently the prevailing norm, in weighing the desire of individuals to be judged for what they can do and not for their age, Congress has clearly decided against age-based retirement for almost all U.S. institutions and for almost all Americans. The committee's central task was to establish whether or not the special circumstances of tenured faculty in higher education justify an exception to this recently evolved national policy prohibiting age discrimination in employment. The committee has prepared a report laying out its best judgment on the consequences of ending mandatory retirement in terms of faculty retirement behavior; faculty and institutional quality; and the institutional, legal, and financial issues for college and university management. We would especially call the reader's attention to a number of specific recommendations the committee makes regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different tools for maintaining faculty turnover and institutional quality. These include retirement incentive programs; pension, health, and other benefit programs; and faculty evaluation and dismissal proceedings. The committee also makes a final recommendation regarding congressional action on the federal law that now requires elimination of mandatory retirement at the beginning of 1994. The committee strongly urges Congress and relevant regulatory agencies, states and private pension plan providers, and individual colleges and universities to work together in solving significant problems associated with a number of retirement policies affecting faculty and institutions of higher education. These problems, and our suggestions for their solution, are detailed in this report. Ralph E. Gomory, Chair Committee on Mandatory Retirement in Higher Education
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education Acknowledgments In the course of carrying out all of its activities, the committee benefited from the efforts of a number of groups and individuals. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sponsored the committee's study, and several members of its staff, including Elizabeth Thornton, Ronald Edwards, and Paul Boymel, offered their understanding at several important junctures in our work. Seven higher education interest groups—the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges, the Association of American Universities, the American Association of University Professors, the National Association of State and Land Grant Colleges, the American Council on Education, the National Education Association, and the American Association of Retired Persons—provided the committee with their perspectives on the consequences of ending mandatory retirement. Administrators at 358 colleges and universities responded to our request by providing their insights in writing on key issues raised by the ADEA amendments of 1986. Faculty representatives at 216 institutions responded to a similar request. Faculty and administrators at the 17 colleges and universities at which we conducted anonymous case studies gave us their time and extraordinary access to information about their policies, practices, data, and thoughts on faculty retirement. The managers of national faculty data bases—the Survey of Doctoral Recipients (SDR), National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), the Higher Education Research Institute survey, and the Association of American Medical Colleges faculty data bases—gave the committee demographic information and, in several cases, responded quickly to numerous requests for special tabulations. In particular, the committee appreciates the efforts of the National Research Council's Susan Mitchell and her staff.
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Ending Mandatory Retirement for Tenured Faculty: The Consequences for Higher Education More than 25 research universities responded to our request for data on faculty ages, including recent faculty retirements. This allowed the committee to examine, for these institutions, the proportion of faculty retiring at age 70 and, for the small number of uncapped research institutions, the number and proportion of faculty over age 70. In many cases, providing these data involved considerable time and effort of the university's staff. The committee also wishes to recognize the contributions of the staff of the National Research Council. As study codirector, Pamela Ebert Flattau helped the committee initiate its activities, including organizing a workshop and a survey of the literature on aging performance. Later, after her appointment in the spring of 1990 as director of the NRC division that conducts and analyzes the SDR, Dr. Flattau assisted us in our use of those data. Dorothy Gilford, senior technical adviser to the committee, was instrumental in developing an initial conceptualization of the study. She also designed and managed the committee's letters of inquiry and made initial data requests. Gary Selnow contributed significantly to the committee's work in developing, evaluating, and presenting sources of data on faculty ages and retirement behavior. Suellen Crano organized the committee's campus case studies and campus-level data gathering. She also contributed substantively to other staff activities, including analysis of research on aging and performance. Ellen Tenenbaum prepared summaries of responses to letters of inquiry and assisted in tabulating data on faculty demographics. Eugenia Grohman provided able assistance in editing and guiding the committee's report throughout the publication process. Gale Moore, Joe Masteika, Jane Phillips, and, especially, Carol Palma, provided continuity and an extraordinary level of administrative support for all of the committee's varied activities. Harriet Morgan initially contributed to the committee's analysis of legal and financial issues associated with faculty retirement. Subsequently, she undertook major writing responsibilities, working closely with the study director and the committee in crafting the report. Finally, the committee notes its special debt to Brett Hammond for his thoughtful stewardship of the study. His able direction of the staff and his assistance from study design to research to creating the final report helped to bring order and reason to the wide range of activities the committee undertook.