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In June, 15 colleges and universities were recognized by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for innovative practices in supporting faculty before, during, and after their retirement transitions. The awards focused on efforts to support the development of a legacy for retiring faculty, help them transition into retirement, and keep faculty involved in the academic community during their retirement years.

Examples of the measures recognized include:

Administrators, faculty, and staff at Ohio U could opt to begin their "twilight years" early.

It’s an increasingly common move by campus officials during challenging economic times: voluntary retirement. Offering these incentives to faculty and staff provides a ready means of reducing personnel costs while not being seen as severe and traumatic as layoffs, salary reductions, and furloughs tend to be.

Although the details of such plans vary from one college to the next, they all rest on the potential for shrinking the workforce during times of static or declining budgets.

Given widespread protests against rising tuition and the impending doubling of student loan interest rates, one might expect to see students picketing on a college campus. But at Fairfield University (Conn.) in May, the shoe was on the other foot, as nearly 100 faculty and students picketed outside President Jeffrey P. von Arx’s annual address to faculty.

The reason? The Fairfield U administration, faced with budget woes and shrinking enrollment, wants to end a long-standing practice of paying professors as well as, or better than, peers in comparable institutions.

College campuses have long been accused of being bastions of liberal thought. But the most recent Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) survey of the nation’s entering students at four-year colleges and universities shows that current freshmen, at least, are arriving on campus with their own more liberal beliefs than previous classes. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011” shares findings that students are more accepting of everything from same-sex marriages to affirmative action.

illustration of a professor behind a podium

Tenure-track positions at higher ed institutions are not always the most sought-after jobs on campus. At least, not lately.

University administrators are faced with many challenges, from better financial management to streamlining operations to staying competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining both staff and students.

For the majority of universities, talent management is a relatively untapped opportunity, and it offers both HR professionals and leaders of higher education institutions a proven and practical way to drive competitive advantage.

In August,, an anonymous workforce review site, created a "Best Universities to Work For" report based on user-submitted information. The University of Kansas came out on top with a score of 4.2 (very satisfied) and a president approval rating of 100 percent. Iowa State, Brigham Young (Utah) and Georgia Tech were all hot on Kansas' heels with scores of 4.1.

The idea that faculty members are uniquely qualified to determine the direction, standards, and practices of the institutions at which they teach and do research has been a tenet in higher education. At many colleges and universities, the faculty has almost sole responsibility for hiring, promoting, and granting tenure to its own.

"Leave your personal problems at the door." There are probably some managers who still support the antiquated belief that employees can shut off personal problems like a light switch once they set foot in the workplace. But how can a worker ignore the fact that he or she has lost a home, maxed out credit cards, drained the savings account, or stopped being able to pay the electric bill?


Campus excellence begins with the faculty. It's not just about hiring high-quality professors, but also about maintaining their skills through professional development programs. "I tell our students hiring is job one, two, and three," says John Roueche, director of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at The University of Texas at Austin, a graduate program for community college administrators. "But then you have to do something with them to continue to help them grow and keep them committed to the institution."