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Task Force on Faculty Retirements:
Report on Implementation of Recommendations

A Task Force on Faculty Retirement was convened by the Provost in 2000 and charged as follows:

The Task Force is being asked to examine several aspects of retirement of concern to the faculty. They are: the numbers of the faculty remaining in full-time status past age 70 since uncapping; the adequacy of the faculty early retirement program (FIAP) for encouraging faculty to retire as well as the appropriateness of the early retirement program window (62-68); discontinuing University Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) contributions when the faculty member's TDA has reached a certain level; the new phased retirement program; a special title for faculty who want to retire but do not want to use the emeritus title; and policies and programs for emeritus faculty. 

The Task Force met during 2000-2002 and submitted a formal report that was published in Almanac on September 10, 2002. That report has been subsequently reviewed by the Faculty Senate and by the University Administration. Although the report did not suggest any sweeping changes in the University's guidelines on faculty retirement, it did recommend some incremental changes to make them more effective. Each of the recommendations of the Task Force is listed below, followed by a statement on implementation and a few brief comments.

1.     The Office of the Associate Provost should move immediately to establish an Association of Retired Faculty. 

The Office of the Associate Provost is currently working with a group of emeritus faculty members to establish such an organization.

2.    The current Early Retirement Window (ages 62-68) should be maintained. A faculty member also should be eligible for an early retirement incentive under a "rule of 75." Faculty could retire as early as age 60 (minimum age) with a combination of age and service at the University of Pennsylvania equaling 75. 

This recommendation, with modifications, has been accepted. For details see "Changes in Faculty Income Allowance Program" in Almanac November 25, 2003 (www.upenn.edu/almanac/v50/n14/OR-fiap.html).

3.    It is recommended that the faculty salary to be used in the Faculty Early Retirement window plan should be changed to the faculty member's own salary or a full professor's average salary in the faculty member's own school in the year prior to retirement whichever is higher, subject to a limitation of 200 percent of the faculty member's own salary as provided by law.

This change has been implemented. For faculty retirements that occur after January 1, 2004 the salary on which the 165% income allowance is based is either the faculty member's own academic base salary or the average academic base salary for full professors in the school.

4.    An additional option should be added to the phased retirement program allowing standing faculty and clinician-educators in this program to reduce job duties to 25 percent with a pro rata reduction in salary and a relinquishment of tenure.

This will not be done.  The attendant bureaucracy of a formal new program does not seem justified for an option that would be utilized by very few faculty members. Faculty members who are interested in reducing job duties to as little as 25 percent might investigate the possibility of negotiating to continue in part-time employment after retirement.

5.    A one-time financial planning award (up to $3,000) should be made available to retirement age faculty (54 and over) to pay for professional financial planning services that the faculty member obtains on his or her own behalf.

This will not be done in the immediate future.  Although financial planning assistance might be very helpful to some faculty members, the cost of such a benefit cannot be justified at a time of increasing demands on the employee benefits pool, e.g. health insurance costs.  

6.    Retiring faculty members should have the option of using or not using the modifier "Emeritus" or maintaining their "Professor" title. The same rights and restrictions to being retired would apply.

This is now University policy, effective immediately. 

7.    A faculty member who has committed to retire and who has sabbatical leave credits should be able to take a "retirement leave" without having to return to his or her duties at the University.

This has been the informal policy for several years. The Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators will be updated to formalize the policy.

 8.   In addition to the retirement plan information and education provided at the University level, each School in the University should periodically discuss with its faculty retirement related issues.

The Provost's Office will continue to encourage Deans to do so.

Although the charge to the Task Force on Faculty Retirement asked that it examine the possibility of "discontinuing University Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) contributions when a faculty member's TDA had reached a certain level," the Task Force made no recommendation on this issue.  Its report did conclude that "Given the stock market situation of the last few years, the Task Force felt that now was not the time to consider such an option.  However, it is an option that should be periodically reviewed as circumstances warrant." A review of overall retirement benefits is planned in 2004. The issue of discontinuing TDA contributions will be examined again as part of that review. 

--Walter Wales, Interim Associate Provost

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 21, February 10, 2004

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