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New Paper Examines Legal Issues in Faculty Retirement

July 12, 2011


Higher education institutions face increasingly complex legal challenges since Congress ended mandatory retirement for tenured faculty in 1994. A publication released today by ACE provides college and university presidents and cabinet members with guidance on these issues.

"Supporting the Culminating Stages of Faculty Careers: Legal Issues," funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, includes case studies and an in-depth examination of civil rights, tax and contract law. Institutions are urged to ensure that faculty retirement is a voluntary decision, to include clear language in plans and benefit programs and to avoid age discrimination. The report also explores the complex questions that can be raised by retirement incentive programs.

"Legal missteps can lead to severe consequences for the institution and the individual, including taxes, interest and penalties," said Claire Van Ummersen, project director and senior advisor in ACE's Office of Institutional Initiatives. "This report examines these issues and provides a resource for higher education personnel grappling with faculty retirement."

"This paper begins the important process of identifying best practices and laying the groundwork for sharing institutional knowledge about what works best to support faculty members in the culminating stages of their academic careers and to meet organizational goals," said Kathleen Christensen, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The report, written by Ann Franke, president of Wise Results, LLC, is available as a free PDF. It is being released today during ACE's Invitational Conference on Faculty Retirement Transitions in Chicago, IL.

The conference and report are part of a two-year effort, the next stages of which include a competition on best retirement practices and an online toolkit for institutions. Click here for more resources.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, established in 1934, makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life. It has played a vital role in developing the field of work-family scholarship through its Workplace, Work Force and Working Families program and it is launching a new grant making program on Aging and Work.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ginnie Pera Titterton ▪ 202-939-9368 (office) ▪ 202-360-9484 (cell) ▪

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