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Responding to reports that the title "emeritus" may be an albatross for professors seeking an active retirement, the Faculty Council yesterday considered an alternative title for Faculty ending their teaching careers.
The Council heard a proposal that would create "research professor" positions--non-salaried, non-teaching alternatives to the emeritus designation, which Faculty could choose to accept for the first five years of their retirement.
"Faculty members trying to get [research] grants often find it difficult if their label is professor emeritus," said Council member and Mallinckrodt Professor of Applied Physics William Paul. "Because older Faculty have trouble getting grants anyway, being labeled as retired makes things double difficult."
After five years as a research professor, the retired professor would automatically become a professor emeritus. Research professor positions would be non-renewable.
Professor of Chinese History Peter K. Bol, a council member, said that "something like this might probably be a good idea," but declined to comment further, saying "I don't know what I think about it yet."
Paul said that the council voiced concerns that newly-dubbed research professors would be confused with research professors from other institutions, where the position is sometimes "a secondgrade appointment."
Yesterday's discussion was not spurred by a subcommittee report, and Paul confirmed that it would not become a formal proposal in the near future.
"I personally urged [Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy R. Knowles] to consult with people around retirement age and then get the opinion of the constituency we're dealing with," Paul said. "I don't think anyone was against that proposal."
He said that the next step would be a "pause" in formal consideration, with the matter to come up again at a council meeting in the future.
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