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Monday, May 11, 2020

Mandatory retirement for academics?

From a humanities professor, although I imagine the same arguments could and would be made about law professors. The article loses me a bit with the argument that besides scholarship drying up, being a senior academic means "repeatedly teaching the same courses on the same books with the same notes." That practice does not strike me as a product of age or seniority; I know many senior academics who would never dream of teaching this way and many more-junior academics who have been doing this since their careers began.

This proposal contrasts with the article discussed in this post, which argues that teaching effectiveness lasts far longer than scholarly creativity, at least for those who enjoy and wish to pursue that route.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 11, 2020 at 09:30 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


Zaretsky writes,

"But there is a price to pay for their persistence. . . . First, it is one of the factors that turn their younger colleagues into permanent temps — adjunct professors, condemned to a Sisyphean existence in which they push the boulder of full-course loads every semester, only to repeat the endeavor the following term."

This is probably wrong. There is no reason to think that schools will necessarily maintain the tenure slots of retired professors, rather than add more adjuncts and part-timers to cover the courses. This is especially true at many non-flagship state universities, where the proportion of tenured faculty has been falling for years. Retirements will simply mean that an even smaller fraction of courses will be taught by tenured or tenure track faculty.

Posted by: Steven Lubet | May 12, 2020 8:52:13 AM

For law professors, I think it might work to have mandatory retirement but then a more vigorous emeritus role. I wonder if the model of federal judges taking senior status is a good model. Senior judges keep many privileges but give up others, staying engaged in the life of the court but in a reduced role that frees up the spot. I think that's a plausible model for law professors, too. (I realize that an emeritus role can serve that today, but my sense is that most schools today treat emeritus profs as really just retired.)

Posted by: Orin Kerr | May 12, 2020 3:26:24 AM

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