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Should old professors ‘retire already’?

Laurie Fendrich doesn’t mince words.

In her essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Hofstra University professor emerita explains why she favors a mandatory–or at least suggested–retirement age for professors.

The subtitle of the article: “Academics who don’t retire are greedy, selfish and bad for students.”

The retired professor of art and art history argues that older professors are less likely to be current in their fields, less apt to keep up with technologies for teaching and communicating and less able to relate to students.

“The inconvenient truth,” Fendrich writes, “is that faculty who delay retirement harm students, who in most cases would benefit from being taught by someone younger than 70, even younger than 65.”

The average age of a tenured professor in this country is approaching 55, Fendrich explains, while three-quarters of middle-aged professors say they plan to delay retirement past age 65 or never retire at all.

When tenured professors stick around longer than expected, that limits the job opportunities for younger up-and-comers.

“Young faculty members aspiring to full-time tenure-track jobs as well as newly minted doctorate holders have a right to be worried, if not resentful,” Fendrich writes.

She also argues that a top-heavy faculty overloads departmental budgets, because older professors command higher salaries, make more (and more expensive) medical claims and earn higher employer contributions to retirement funds.

Fendrich notes “the sense of loss” she felt in leaving her full-time Hofstra gig earlier this year at age 66.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.

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