percent of the faculty who retire each year have done so at the current mandatory retirement age of 70. (At most other institutions few or no faculty members work until age 70.) Evidence suggests that faculty members who are actively engaged in research are more likely than others to work past age 65. More generally, faculty who are research oriented, enjoy inspiring students, have light teaching loads, and are covered by pension plans that reward later retirement are more likely to work past age 70. These factors are not unique to research universities, but they are present to a greater degree at some of those institutions than at other types of colleges and universities.

Consequences for Institutions and Faculty

If mandatory retirement is eliminated, some research universities are likely to suffer adverse effects from low faculty turnover: increased costs and limited flexibility to respond to changing needs and to support new fields by hiring new faculty.

The committee notes that new fields of scholarship are a source of vitality for research and teaching and that colleges and universities enter new fields and expand their coverage of fields by hiring new faculty. Research universities at which a significant number of faculty work past age 70 would have fewer available positions and thus would be less able to hire either prospective junior faculty or more senior faculty from other institutions, which would limit their ability to enter new fields. This loss of flexibility would also limit opportunities for some prospective faculty who would otherwise have been offered positions at those research universities. However, faculty qualified for positions at adversely affected research universities are likely to attract offers from other research universities.

Postponed retirements will increase costs at those research universities—and any other colleges and universities—at which a significant number of faculty work past age 70. If an institution expands its faculty as a way of supporting new fields, costs will increase. Our modeling exercise (see Chapter 2) suggests that faculty salary budgets could increase by 1–2 percent over the first 5 years and another 1–2 percent over the following 10 years. Costs would rise even without additional hiring as the average age of faculty members rises, because, on average, salaries and benefits increase with age.

Administrators and faculty can best assess the potential impact of uncapping at their own colleges and universities by studying their faculty age distributions, retirement patterns, and hiring needs.

The effects of uncapping on any college or university depend on its proportion of older faculty, on whether the faculty choose to work past age



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement