Faculty “renew” package

A recent article in the Globe and Mail reveals that the University of Toronto is beginning to offer retirement incentives to faculty who are 60 or older in order to be able to hire some new faculty.

Recent Statistics Canada data discloses that almost 30 percent of Canadian universities’ faculty is over the age of 55.

If faculty choose to accept the package in 2011 they will receive a year’s salary, which is a fifth of the faculty association’s complete membership. This package is available to about 500 faculty members and staff who fill the age requirement and have worked at the university for at least 10 years.

Incentives such as these are often used to save money, as older faculty members tend to earn more than newer and younger faculties, who are hired a few years after.

According to a vice president at U of T, Angela Hildyard, the reason for this retirement incentive was not to reduce faculty not to cut costs. Instead, she argues that the purpose of the incentive was to “renew” the faculty. This way professors and researchers could move to areas where they were needed.

According to the Globe, tenured professors are not required to retire at a certain age. Yet despite their being valued for their wealth of knowledge, the fact that they are not required to retire at a certain age can lead to unpredictability in retirement patterns and plans. This also prevents newer and younger professors from being hired.

In response to the new incentive, Hildyard told the Globe, “Several of the faculty….may want to move into new or emerging areas of scholarship, or to strengthen particular areas.”

The retirement incentive offered at U of T is not unique and similar offers have come into existence recently at other renowned universities. The University of Western Ontario, McGill University, and the University of Alberta, to name a few, have all offered similar retirement incentives in recent years. Western and McGill have done so since early 2009 and the University of Alberta offered buyouts last year.

An associate provost at McGill, Jan Jorgensen, reveals that 81 people accepted the first set of retirement incentives, which was a number larger than expected. Jorgensen also talks about how these incentives are risky, as universities run the danger of losing some of their exceptional faculty and staff.

George Luste, the president of the University of Toronto Faculty Association, believes that the higher paycheques of older faculty members do play a role in the new incentive, as stated in an interview with the Globe and Mail. He also cites a real concern that “not enough people are retiring after the age of 65”.

These retirement incentives are not only unique to Canada, but are also taking shape in the United States. Stanford University is ready to spend up to $10 million a year on similar retirement offers in order to hire new professors.

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