Friday, June 03, 2005

Greying of the professoriate

This Chronicle of Higher Ed article discusses the advancing average age of the professoriate. I can't say that I haven't noticed this trend in my own department, but at least we are doing better than the NC State econ department described in the article, which has only one professor under 40 and two thirds over 55!

"In the 16-campus University of North Carolina system, the proportion of tenured and tenure-track faculty members age 50 or older jumped from about a third in 1984 to more than half in 2001. In 1984 there were only two tenured faculty members over the age of 69. By 2001 the system had 90 such professors.

Other colleges face a similar demographic shift. A decade ago, at the University of Arizona, less than 17 percent of the tenured and tenure-track faculty members were 60 or older. Now, almost one in four professors is that old. At Wichita State University, 29 percent of the faculty were 55 or older a decade ago, and 41 percent are that old now. Nearly one out of 10 professors there is 65 or older. At private colleges, experts say, the situation is compounded: The type of pension plans that most private institutions offer tend to reward professors for working longer.

While the national population is aging as a whole, factors specific to academe magnify the trend. Ten years have passed since Congress ended mandatory retirement, a policy that had allowed colleges to require faculty members to retire at age 70. Many professors hired during the great expansion of academe in the 1960s and 70s are now reaching their golden years. And, because many people are living longer -- and need financial resources to do so comfortably -- more and more professors are delaying retirement, some of them indefinitely."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One might naively expect this to ease the predicted shortages of scientists/engineers. However, I suspect that a similar "greying" is not occurring in the private sector. At schools that emphasize teaching, the greying may be beneficial (retain motivated seasoned enthusiastic teachers), but research universities will probably be negatively impacted. Though it would probably never be tolerated, research institutions would benefit from the implementation of a productivity standard (# publications, classes taught, students,...).


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