Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

October 9, 2003

Administration nixes faculty early retirement plan

Pitt has no intention of offering another early retirement plan for faculty, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Andrew R. Blair reconfirmed this week.

In approving the University’s last early retirement incentive plan for tenured faculty in October 1997, Pitt’s senior officers and Board of Trustees declared that it would be the final such plan here. Trustees even passed a resolution to that effect, and it would take a board vote to reverse Pitt’s policy.

“Nothing has changed since that time,” Blair told the University Times.

The vice provost made his comments following Tuesday’s Faculty Assembly meeting, at which economics professor Herbert Chesler, who co-chairs the University Senate benefits and welfare committee, suggested that Pitt officials consider offering a new early retirement plan to encourage older, tenured professors to retire, freeing up slots for younger faculty.

Chesler said his committee doesn’t plan to pursue the issue “with any vigor” this year but hopes “to arouse the curiosity of the administration, if nothing else, so maybe they would begin to look at the data [on the graying of Pitt’s faculty] and begin talking among themselves about the advisability of taking a deeper look at this topic.”

Since 1994, the federal government has outlawed mandatory retirement ages for faculty. Before that, Pitt required its faculty to retire by age 70.

Professors who participated in the University’s last early retirement plan agreed to voluntarily relinquish their tenure rights and retire between July 1998 and May 1999. In return, they received payments equal to 1.5 times their annual contract salaries, up to $125,000. More than 40 percent of 381 eligible faculty members signed up for the plan.
At the time it was approved, University officials estimated that the plan would save Pitt more than $12 million (based on just a 30 percent participation rate) by encouraging retirements of older, higher paid professors. But Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg also said that the main reason the plan had been needed in the first place was to deal with a backlog of retirements resulting from faculty expectations, dating back to the early 1980s, that a new early retirement plan was always around the corner.

“This pattern created the sense that, simply by delaying their retirements, tenured faculty members would qualify for payments in addition to their normal retirement benefits,” Nordenberg said in 1997. “What made sense in the 1980s is not a strategy that will take us into the next century. Our general retirement plan is designed to provide a secure and comfortable retirement for our faculty.”

Blair commented this week: “Everybody understands that we need some attrition in order to bring new faculty members into the University. But our current faculty should make retirement decisions based on their health, their assessments of their TIAA-CREF benefits, family considerations and so forth. People should not hold out hope that the University will be offering a new early retirement plan.”
— Bruce Steele                            


Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 4

Leave a Reply