Retiring professors on the rise; university ups new hires

Daily Sundial

For a myriad of reasons, such as salary freezes and 1960s hiring surges, the number of CSUN faculty deciding to retire has risen in recent years and the university is facing challenges replacing them, said Provost Harold Hellenbrand.

“It’s hard (because) we can’t always fill all the positions because of the budget deficit,” Hellenbrand said. “For every two faculty who retire, we’re lucky to replace them with one faculty member.”

Twenty-five faculty members are retiring from CSUN this academic year alone, said Iris Shah, president of the Association of Retired Faculty at CSUN

CSUN plans on hiring between 30 and 45 new faculty for the 2005-06 school year beginning in September to fill in the void left by retiring faculty, Hellenbrand said.

According to Hellenbrand, that number has continued to rise in the past three years. He speculates that the surge in retiring professors is due to the massive hiring influx that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Because of CSU expansion at that time, the university hired accordingly, he said.

“When these professors were hired 30 (or) 40 years ago, most were in their mid- to-late 30s (and) 40s,” Hellenbrand said. “Forty years later, we have a whole group of professors at retirement age.”

Salary freezes caused by budget cuts within the CSU system could also prompt some professors to consider retirement.

“(Salary freezes) can make a faculty member consult their accountant and think about staying on for another year,” Hellenbrand said.

More professors are retiring early because of the Early Retirement Program, which provides a transition period to help professors to move from full-time teaching to full-time retirement, Hellenbrand said.

The program allows all tenured faculty over the age of 55 the opportunity to receive their retirement income, plus half a year’s salary, for teaching one semester per year, or part-time during both semesters per year.

Shah, a retired English professor at CSUN, decided to retire early at 62, after teaching for 27 years.

“I was having trouble hearing,” said Shah regarding her reason for retiring. “I wasn’t sure I could hear my students properly.”

Shah said that when she left CSUN in 1993, the department was having a difficult time finding professors who could teach the classes she and other retiring professors previously taught, such as linguistics and the history of English.

The university now faces similar problems in finding new faculty to fill the positions held by retiring professors.

The university also faces a challenge in hiring new faculty because of the rising cost of living in California, which he said contributes to many potential faculty members passing up California universities for schools in other areas of the country where housing and gas prices are not so high, Hellenbrand said.

CSUN is looking to better accommodate the needs of incoming professors by establishing a plan to build near-campus faculty housing at prices lower than on the general real estate market, Hellenbrand said.

Additionally, he said the university is negotiating with the California Faculty Association and the CSU to agree on a salary increase that will hopefully entice more potential hires to come to CSUN.