2101 CONSTITUTION AVENUE WASHINGTON D.C. 20418
OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN
May 21, 1991
Honorable Evan J. Kemp, Jr.
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