Faculty Retirement: Making the Silent Conversation Heard
In the CHAE Report (Spring 2016), Dr. Baldwin, the current Erickson Chair, explores the topic of faculty retirement.
Written by Angie Belin, doctoral student
The Dr. Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education provides special funding for a faculty member to pursue a research project, one which allows the holder of the Chair to contribute to a scholarly conversation in a visible way. For Professor Roger Baldwin, the current Erickson Chair, the scholarly conversation he is pursuing is about the often unspoken topic of faculty retirement.
Baldwin sees a need to help people transition to retirement and to provide people at this stage of life with outlets for service and engagement so they can live longer and better. Through his research, Baldwin seeks to change the bleak vision of retirement that is “walking out of your office one day and never coming back.” In particular, he wants to understand the impact retired faculty organizations can have on their members and institutions.
Studying retired faculty organizations
In the most current stage of the project, Baldwin will survey retirement organization leaders and institutional liaisons for the 200+ organizations that offer services to retiring faculty and staff. This environmental scan will help Baldwin get a sense of the kinds of program models the organizations are using, what the leaders and liaisons see as the impact and benefits of their organizations, and what else the programs would like to offer. From the survey data, he will select institutions and organizations from among the program models and conduct site visits. Through conversations and focus groups with key staff members and members of the organizations themselves, Baldwin hopes to get a richer and deeper sense of what the organizations do to support their members, their institutions, and the larger community.
The aging population is large, in part due to the Baby Boom
phenomenon and longer lifespans, and Baldwin feels there are
not enough organizations or structures to assist the transition to
retirement. He wants to discover what steps should be taken to
assist faculty and academic staff in preparing for the next phase
of life, a phase where people have more control of their time and
can take advantage of opportunities that have long been put off.
Ultimately, through his research as the Erickson Chair, Baldwin
wants to make the conversation about faculty retirement heard,
and in doing so bring this part of academic life “out of the closet.”
An overview of Baldwin’s research topic can be found in the Fall 2015 edition of Center for Higher and Adult Education Report.