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Comparison Among Harvard Faculties


In line with Harvard's "every tub on its own bottom" tradition, each of Harvard's graduate schools has chosen a different course to float through retirement challenges. The measurable effect of the new retirement law varies by school, but one thing remains constant: No plans are in place to change retirement policy anytime soon anywhere in the University.

School of Business Administration

Since 1994, the Harvard Business School (HBS) has led the faculties with the most aggressive retirement incentive plan. It built and emeritus center with offices, mailboxes and secretarial staff. It set aside emeritus research funds, and it instituted a financial incentive plan.

HBS professors who retire between ages 63 and 65 receive a bonus equal to twice their annual salaries at retirement. The bonus diminishes as the age of retirement increases.

"Business changes very rapidly. If you're going to stay current, you simply have to be out there in the field mastering new topics," says Robert H. Hayes, senior associate dean for faculty development. "We had to bring in people.

Law School

The change in mandatory retirement came at the right time for Harvard Law School, which is looking to expand its faculty. Currently, two faculty over 70 are still teaching full-time, and five others teach as emeriti. Emeriti professors individually negotiate their teaching load and pay with the dean of the Law School

"We are glad to have these people teaching--we don't view them as a burden," says Allan Ray, director of academic affairs.

But pay isn't always proportional to teaching work, according to emeriti professors who are still active. And because there's no published pay scale for emeriti, professors who wish to teach after they turn 70 are given a choice between carrying a full load with administrative duties or "being at the University's mercy, so to speak," says one of the last professors to take emeritus status under the old law.

Medical School

Among the 517 full professors who teach at Harvard Medical School (HMS), 39--or more than seven percent--are over 70 years old. Deans at the school refused repeated requests for an interview, but in a statement issued by the office of public affairs, the school claimed that "there is not a rigid number of full professors, so we do not need to rely on retirements to rejuvenate the faculty."

School of Dental Medicine

At the Dental School, 70 faculty members work full-time. Of the 27 of those who teach full-time, five, or 18 percent, are over age 70.

As with HLS, having an older core of teaching faculty can sometimes work to a school's advantage.

"There aren't that many young doctors that want to take on a full-time teaching load," said Joseph L. Henry, associate dean for faculty affairs.

At this point, he says, the school isn't having any difficulty as a result of the change in law.

"If people can stay in and do their job, then they are welcome," Henry says.

School of Public Health

The School of Public Health saw many older faculty leave just before the end of mandatory retirement, according to Richard J. Cannon, dean for administration. The school currently employs no faculty over the age of 70. A committee considered various incentive plans, but whether they will be administered is an issue to be resolved in the future.

"There's really been no demonstrable effect," he says.

John F. Kennedy School of Government

The Kennedy School of Government (KSG) has a relatively young faculty--it has no professors over the age of 70--which makes retirement "a problem we're going to face in the future," says Julie B. Wilson, secretary to the faculty.

"We're really fortunate to have a young faculty," she says. "They're in many ways bringing in the newest and the best in what's developing in the field."

She says the school hopes to learn from other schools when it tackles the issue.

Divinity School, Education School and the School of Design

With a full-time faculty of fewer than 50, each of these schools claim that their faculty is too small to see any change in retirement trends.

At the Divinity School, the dean keeps a running list of faculty over 62 and meets with them to discuss retirement options, according to Joan L. Goodman-Williamson, assistant to the dean. She says the dean takes this personal approach as part of his style and not because "they're doddering old fools."

The School of Design is home to a relatively young faculty, according to the Dean for Academic Services Patricia J. Roberts, with very few professors nearing retirement.

She says the school hasn't really been affected by the change in law. The dean does not approach faculty when they come closer to retirement age.

"If we have a faculty member, and he doesn't want to retire, he doesn't retire," she says.

Faculty at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) have continued to retire around the age of 70, and the school currently has no faculty over that age.

"It's not a big issue here.... We have discussions about the responsibility of people at some point in their career to move on to make room for younger people," says Dean of the GSE Jerome T. Murphy.

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