The Role of Retired Faculty Organizations and Emeritus Colleges in Higher Education
In the CHAE Report (Fall 2015), Dr. Baldwin explores the role that retirement organizations play in higher education.
Written by Brett Say, doctoral student
In recent years, the development of organizations designed to
provide retired higher education faculty with a place to continue
to learn and grow has been on the rise (Baldwin & Zeig, 2013).
Retired faculty organizations (RFOs) and emeritus colleges, two
common examples of these organizations, have begun to appear
in universities and colleges throughout the United States as a way
to provide personal and professional services for retired faculty
(Baldwin & Zeig, 2012, 2013). This relatively new trend provides
an opportunity for colleges and universities to foster meaningful,
productive relationships with a group of their most experienced
and dedicated employees. For Professor Roger Baldwin, this trend
presents an opportunity to continue a career-long commitment to
the study of topics surrounding faculty development.
Baldwin’s interest in retired faculty organizations builds upon his previous research on emerging emeritus colleges throughout the United States. While working on this project, he was surprised to find that these organizations were not only a relatively new occurrence, but also largely unstudied and hidden from the public eye. Closer analysis uncovered that these unique, multi-focused organizations existed both within and peripheral to their respective institutions.
Largely volunteer-based and occasionally joined by retired university staff, these organizations have become prevalent in U.S. higher education environments. With missions as unique as those of their respective institutions, these organizations focus broadly on activities ranging from university service to academic research. And while they may differ in structure and vision, the organizations seem to share a common understanding that faculty who choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 are motivated by personal growth and community engagement and less by financial concerns.
For the members of these organizations, teaching, research, and academic service have been a lifelong endeavor to which they are still willing and able to contribute. In this motivation, Baldwin sees potential for higher education institutions to form a unique and mutually beneficial relationship with their retired faculty base. Successful collaboration among RFOs and their institutions, however, is dependent on a better understanding of what organizational models exist, which can best serve the needs of faculty and university administrators.
In researching how retired faculty organizations effectively operate within and outside of university environments, Baldwin hopes to create a guiding framework through which these organizations can enjoy continued growth and success. In doing so, he sees great potential for a growing number of senior and retired faculty members to provide valuable contributions for the organizations and academic communities in which they live.
Baldwin, R. G., & Zeig, M. J. (2012). Making emeritus matter. Change, 44(5), 28–34. http://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.201 2.706508
Baldwin, R. G., & Zeig, M. J. (2013). Emeritus colleges: Enriching academic communities by extending academic life. Innovative Higher Education, 38(5), 355–368. http://doi. org/10.1007/s10755-012-9247-7