Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Program offers faculty benefits

Up to 12 of Augustana’s senior faculty are being offered an opportunity to receive some incentive if they chose to make the decision to retire within the next academic school year.
Colleges and universities across the nation take part in programs like this sporadically to encourage faculty to transition into retirement because there is no set retirement age in Academia.
“Once every 10 years or so, academic institutions will do a retirement incentive program, which is sort of a cash buy-out for those who may be thinking about retirement but are not quite ready,” said Provost Pareena Lawrence.
President Steven Bahls said Augustana offered an early retirement plan to faculty in 2007 and another to all employees in 2009, both of which he said were “well received.”
Some online experts describe the program to that of a “layoff” in corporate America. However, Lawrence said the two definitions are different.
“Corporate America will often do involuntary incentive programs, but we do not do that,” said Lawrence, who explained that in other jobs, employees often look forward to retirement. She said this is not the case for academic faculty.
“Academia is a lifestyle; we go into this field and it is our identity, so to retire is very difficult for us,” said Lawrence. “I cannot imagine (retiring) because it would be giving up what I have always been.”
A total of 30 tenured faculty who have a combined age and years of service to Augustana totaling 85 years, and a 75 percent teaching load are eligible for this program. Only 12 of the applications will be approved. So far, 6-8 applications have been received.
Having senior faculty retire risks losing institutional memory, such as how day-to-day operations run and culture of the college.
“The success of early retirement plans is usually mixed,” said Bahls. “While we were pleased to give employees the chance to retire early, we found that we ended up missing years of experience they brought to Augustana.”
Lawrence said administration has capped the number of faculty allowed into the program at 12 to ensure that too much of that institutional memory is not lost.
“One of the things we want to do is renew the faculty, but our faculty that has been here a long time have a lot of experience,” said Lawrence. “So we want to balance the experience of those faculty members with the opportunity of new faculty who have new ideas and new training in new fields.”
Faculty have until Feb. 27 to apply for this opportunity.

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Program offers faculty benefits