Harvard Ranks on AARP Employer List

For the home of the longest-running humor magazine and the original campus ham-radio station, age doesn’t usually go out of style. So too for staff members—Harvard finished among the country’s top employers for older workers in a list released last Tuesday.

The University finished 34th in the American Association for Retired Persons Magazine’s “Best Employers for Workers Over 50” list. Harvard placed behind Cambridge rival MIT, which ranked 14th, and Ivy League rival Cornell, which finished first.

According to an article released with the list, Harvard’s strengths include extensive healthcare benefits for all its faculty, options for older faculty to “catch up” on 403(b) investing plans, and a workforce that is 30 percent over 50 years of age. On average, these older employees have been working for the University for almost 16 years, according to the AARP.

But Akira Iriye, a research professor of American History who retired from teaching four years ago, said the best thing Harvard offers is its lasting community.

“They don’t kick us out,” he said. “Harvard has this philosophy that once you’re a student or faculty member here you’re part of the community. Because of that they treat you very well.”

Iriye said that he still has an office on the top floor of Widener, and Harvard continues to support his research.

“When you retire, many institutions want you to vacate your office,” he said. “Here, I see other retired professors walking around near my office in Widener all the time.”

William A. Klemperer ’50, a professor emeritus and active tutor in biochemical sciences, described his own office as “exceptionally nice.” He also said that for older professors who continue to teach, the job is its own reward.

“The students at Harvard are very, very bright,” he said. “Harvard has fewer anti-intellectual distractions than most schools.”

Klemperer said he thinks that Harvard takes care of its retired researchers and professors especially well because of the “relative prosperity of the University.”

But not every part of the University is so well off, according to Harvard Medical School Professor David H. Hubel.

“There’s this ‘every tub floats on its own bottom’ philosophy that Harvard has,” he said. “I think the medical school suffers because it is financially strapped and FAS is not. We’ve had trouble getting funding from Harvard.”

While Hubel said his own position as a senior professor has not been hurt, the Medical School may miss out on opportunities—like hiring more young, talented faculty for tenure-track positions.

Klemperer said the recent push to hire more young faculty members has had “very positive” effects in his FAS department, chemistry.

“There is an emphasis on funding and bringing to Harvard young scientists who are just starting out,” he said. “We have a dynamic group of faculty.”