Elimination of mandatory retirement has empowered faculty to self-determine their exit from academia. For so many who identify closely with their work and wish to remain productively engaged, facing this major decision without adequate knowledge and information can over-extend their careers, usurping precious time that could be spent in retirement. Faced with aging faculty complements, institutions can proactively anticipate and plan for critical needs that may arise at various stages. Based on challenges identified in the literature, results from an online survey and personal experience based upon years of working as an institutional researcher, this study seeks to address factors delaying retirement, provide perspectives on institutional culture towards retired and late-career stage faculty and re-examine post-retirement engagement of retirees. Supportive interventions include opportunities for ongoing engagement, normalizing discussion around retirement, and assisting faculty in planning for this eventuality. Key findings of the Schlossberg 4S Transition Model (1981, 1989a) are its relevance to faculty retirement transitions and the perspectives it adds to the study of departmental and institutional culture. Several options for encouraging, coordinating and utilizing retiree capacities in ways which benefit both retirees and the institution during the pre-retirement, retirement and post-retirement stages are proposed. From an overall institutional perspective, multiple benefits can be derived from facilitating faculty transitions into retirement and nurturing post-retirement engagement. Exploring retirement in the context of Simon Fraser University (SFU) provides an opportunity to build upon work done in the US and elsewhere by developing a uniquely beneficial, customized institutional process that can serve as an example to others challenged by aging faculty complements. Although literature on this issue is readily available for higher education institutions in the US, research on faculty retirement after mandatory retirement was lifted at Canadian universities is limited. Given this lack of information at not just SFU, but also elsewhere in Canada, the results from my study are timely and may be of considerable value to faculty, policy makers, and practitioners in their efforts to better understand factors impacting a faculty member's retirement decision, enhance human resource planning and organizational culture around senior faculty, and improve engagement with faculty in post-retirement.
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Thesis advisor: Kaufman, David
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