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Why Your Old Professor Isn't Going Anywhere

We've all had that one professor, that man or woman who has stayed on board way past their time. They're teaching your course, really slowly, for the 5oth time and might have forgotten your name along the way, as well as the fact that you handed in last week's assignment. And you know what else? They're sticking around.

Some are staying at your university for purely economic reasons.

“Fidelity polled several hundred faculty members between the ages of 49 and 67, and nearly 75% said they planned to retire after age 65,” CNN Money reporter Melanie Hicken writes. “While 65% of those planning to delay said they were motivated by financial reasons, such as maximizing Social Security payments or hanging onto health insurance…”

Others simply can't bring themselves to be separated from you.

“If I go several days without teaching, I long for it,” 71-year-old writing professor Donald Gallehr told CNN. “I miss my students. I wish I was in the classroom.”

You may feel the same way about them — maybe — but whether it's for love or for money, one thing seems clear, there are a few people who think older instructors should know when to call it quits and pass the baton.

“The fact that people stay longer means you have a little less flexibility, you're not hiring as many younger faculty,” said Robert Clark, an economics and management professor at North Carolina State University, told CNN. “That certainly is an issue.”

It appears that those fresh-faced, free agent professors who could make up a younger faculty are the ones taking a bit of hit on this, let's face it, awkward and touchy situation.

Consider older teachers as salaried reporters and younger professors as freelance writers. The older instructors have the limited number of tenured spots that universities have to offer. If those spots are hung onto, they can't go to younger professors, who are only working at colleges on an “adjunct” basis or, basically, part-time. These professors, like 34-year-old professor Adam Davies, only earn around $30,000 a year compared to the $70,000 – $140,00 that tenured professors make countrywide.

“I don't get health care. I don't have a retirement plan,” Davies told Hicken. “You don't really know from one day to the next whether you're going to get work.”

Davies still has hope that he'll get a tenured spot soon and his love for teaching keeps him around. And while some institutions are trying to help his cause, though there isn't much they can do, Davies' older counterparts hold firm to their positions.

“Grappling with an aging workforce, many colleges and universities have instituted incentive programs, such as buyouts, to encourage senior faculty members to retire,” Hicken said. “But for many professors, their love for the job wins out.”

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Joseph Milord

Editor

Joseph is a Senior Writer, Editor and early member of the Elite Daily team. He studied Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and will probably call Jersey home forever.
Joseph is a Senior Writer, Editor and early member of the Elite Daily team. He studied Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and will probably call Jersey home forever.

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