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Persuading old profs to retire

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, June 17, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

If you think you may never retire and you're looking for a role model, look no further than the local college or university.

According to a survey by Fidelity Investments, which manages 403(b) plans for higher education organizations, 74 percent of faculty members between the ages of 49 and 67 plan to delay retirement past the age of 65 or never retire at all.

Why? A significant 81 percent say they'll keep on working because of "professional reasons." Of those, 89 percent want to stay busy; 64 percent love what they do too much to quit; and 41 percent want to keep connected to the institution they work for. It's a retirement planning problem most people would love to have.

Most faculty members have a combination of an old-fashioned defined benefit pension plan and a defined contribution plan, usually a 403(b). Financially, "they tend to be more retirement ready than the average American," says John Ragnoni, executive vice president of Fidelity's tax-exempt retirement services.

Faculty members who want to teach forever can be a problem for colleges and universities because that prevents younger professors from moving up into more challenging and better-paying positions. Several universities have looked for ways around this problem. For instance, Emory University has started Emeritus College, an association whose purpose is to "advance the intellectual interests" of retired faculty and staff, by providing support for ongoing research and recognition of post-retirement achievements.

"We see a lot of faculty who are paralyzed about retirement," Ragnoni says. "The focus that we have been successful with is to help faculty look at transitioning. We help them see that they have the resources to pursue other things in retirement or a different lifestyle."

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1 Comment
Frank Paiano
June 18, 2013 at 1:11 am

I have been teaching at a community college for thirty years and would love to keep teaching for another thirty years. I absolutely love what I do and can't believe that they actually pay me to do it. (Shhhh. I would do it for free if I had to.) I took a 20% pay cut to leave the industry and have had very attractive offers to return to industry but I have never seriously considered any of them. I am the luckiest guy in the world!