Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Will-Work-For-Free" Professors Denied

Budget problems are so bad, colleges aren't even taking up retirees with their offers for free work.

I know this feeling. You have experience and you are even willing to help someone out for free, but something about the system just keeps the idea from taking shape.

These retired professors told their old colleges that they would help out and lend their expertise but for many motnhs their requests went unanswered. Turned out that the colleges didn't know what to do with them. Their offers of assistance went against the mainframe thinking that a teacher retires and then goes out to pasture, never to teach or help again.

Such places, however, are still the exception and not the rule. "Many academic institutions have not thought seriously enough about the great resources that emeritus faculty can be to the institution," says Ronald G. Ehrenberg, an economics professor at Cornell who is an expert on higher-education retirement. Retired faculty members—who bring years of institutional knowledge to the table—are willing to work gratis on tasks that would free pressed-for-time professors to focus on teaching, research, and other activities.

There's another advantage for colleges in finding important roles for retired faculty members: It gives professors an incentive to retire. An attractively packaged option can prompt a longtime faculty member to step back and make way for institutions to hire the next generation of (younger and cheaper) scholars.

All right, I'm waiting for the first entrepreneur to come up with a web application for social media that puts these retired profs to work. First one who does wins a prize!

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