BIOBIBLIOGRAPHIC SURVEY OF U.C. EMERITI
IN RESEARCH, TEACHING, AND PROFESSIONAL
FROM JULY 2007 THROUGH JUNE 2009
(Without Individual Campus Reports)
The Council of UC Emeriti Associations
UC Emeriti Redefine Retirement
An unusual and revealing view of UC faculty has just been achieved by a survey of their continuing work in retirement during two school years from July 2007 through June 2009.
Emerging as a glow through the gloom of UC’s current budget woes, the survey’s results relate wryly to the funereal fun of two classic cartoons: The New Yorker pictures two elderly businessmen looking into the street from a large window of their opulent club. A hearse is passing by, followed by an armored truck. One comments casually, “George always swore he’d take it with him.”
By coincidence The Chronicle of Higher Education offered an academic counterpart: In a campus hallway two old professors stare in dismay at a notice tacked tackily on a bulletin board. One laments, “Too bad about old Ainsworth. Published and published, but perished all the same.”
The fun about obsessiveness in both cartoons is doubled by the way George is successful and Ainsworth is thwarted. Yet what’s success? For George it’s ultimately and literally a dead end. But old Ainsworth is survived by what made him distinctively valuable. So a parabolic twist turns success topsy-turvy: the businessman’s wealth, his ultimate identifier, will be buried with him, whereas the professor’s works, his ultimate identifier, will have a life beyond his.
Such edgy wealth-and-works humor suits the rough seas UC finds itself in these days, where ultimately the state needs the University’s work even more than the University needs state funding. But when one’s a Titanic and the other’s an iceberg, laughter lasts longest in lifeboats, and the survey floats a few.
Often overlooked in the multiplicity of UC’s vital culture is the work of hundreds of productive emeriti, an immense assortment of leaders in their fields who instinctively redefine “retirement.” As these persist in their research, teaching, advising, and professional services, they amount to a large, experienced, and prestigious workforce represented, incidentally, by a Council of UC Emeriti Associations (CUCEA), an organization whose mission, size, and membership are unequalled at any other research university in the country.
Still, higher education usually attends more to the cost of emeriti benefits than to what emeriti do. And since most schools have many ponds of other fish to fry, why should they mix their missions (or metaphors) to meddle or muddle with odd old ducks?
The survey illustrates why:
(1) Because in an inspiring contrast to common assumptions about retirement, its 1,200+ academically active respondents forcefully reveal what a lively resource emeriti can be.
(2) As the reputation of major universities primarily relates to the quality of their faculty, survey data illustrate emeriti as veterans in mixing UC’s educational values with their prestige.
(3) Especially heartening in these dire budgetary days, most emeriti research, teaching, and service cited in the survey were (and are) pro bono, in effect a bonus and great bargain for the University.
(4) The survey shows how durable this bonus and bargain can be. As world-class scholars (hardly the sort to stop thinking and sharing when they turn 65), most UC emeriti, like old Ainsworth, are quintessentially obsessive, making them a remarkable investment: a blue chip asset likely to pay generous dividends to students, UC, the state, and the country for many years.
(5) Moreover, the number of those years, with all their productivity, is increasing. Beyond the 65-year lifespan assumed by Social Security in 1935, modern healthcare has already given emeriti, on average, nearly 20 additional years to flourish—virtually half of an extra career.
At UCLA this vitality and value emerged in sixteen emeriti vying for a 2008 Dickson Award honoring post-retirement scholarship, teaching, and service. The bulk of their retirement dossiers bulged file folders beyond all modesty. The least among them had published a distinguished book. Daunted, and after agonizing over the superfluity of merit, judges finally split the award five ways. Not represented: an anthropologist whose “best book” was published in his 92nd year.
Much of this continuing academic immersion was not anticipated by a Berkeley emeritus who jotted, “At last I’m beginning to ‘get’ retirement”—i.e., to receive, to grasp, to understand it, all in one, which for most survey respondents meant being “just as busy” or “busier than before retirement.” For them the future is now, and they’re a vigorous part of it in the following ways:
Out of 3,690 emeriti surveyed, 1,219, or 33%, with a median age of about 76, responded. Of these, 351 contributed funds to the University via extramural grants which supported 1,372 staff, including 749 research assistants and 279 post-doctoral fellows, besides providing liberal sums for University overhead. While many others funded research personally, examples of teaching and research funded by grants included a new $1 million chair in Environmental Chemistry assumed by a UC Davis emeritus, and a Berkeley emerita’s $2.3 million from the NIH.
Research and professional enterprises during the biennium were prolific. As if they were old Ainsworths aspiring to glorious tenure in some Great Beyond, emeriti published 446 books, 3,737 articles, 741 book chapters, 579 book reviews, delivered 3,340 professional lectures or papers, and reported 1,023 scholarly projects in progress—all when they were not distracted by work on 1,188 abstracts, 425 professional reports, 852 consulting reports, and 105 technological projects, or weren’t pursuing Aesthetics or Truth in producing 138 films or videos, 752 literary works, 4 music or theater works, 449 performances, or 413 art works for 83 exhibitions.
Over half of the survey’s respondents taught, 484 on their home campus and 233 across town, the nation, or in countries around the world. While they were perhaps most suited to graduate programs, their teaching and advising of 6,644 undergraduates as well as 7,091 graduate students reflected a strong undergraduate slant at Davis, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, plus a special program of intensive undergraduate mentoring at San Diego. Some respondents taught elsewhere because of campus budget limits, a fact suggesting that enhanced and thoughtfully applied emeriti recall provisions could make sound economic and educational sense.
Along with teaching, the survey shows an immense emeriti commitment to University citizenship. All told, respondents served on 2,930 UC committees during the biennium. Most important for the University’s renown and their disciplines was their service on 1,056 doctoral committees. Most significant for the University’s budget crisis was the extraordinary number of 205 who served on fund-raising entities. The support signaled by this last figure has also appeared in more than $200 million donated by former faculty over the years.
Given their experience and expertise, emeriti were quite naturally tapped for service on 183 advisory committees and 390 administration committees, as well as for special appointments or positions ranging from an Academic Senate Chair (Riverside), Senate committee chairs, department chairs, assistant and associate deans, deans, directors and vice chancellors, to important slots, however ethereal and transitory, at various altitudes in the UC President’s Office.
Then too, there is always a particular professional discipline clinging to every academic’s center of consciousness, a specialty and national or international reputation beyond UC that coheres one’s identity as a working expert, a distinctive presence, or even an Ainsworth on a bulletin board. And in their professional worlds emeriti tend to shine as stars far longer than on a campus. Thus it’s not surprising for the biennium to find 711 on professional committees and 215 who held offices, as well as 559 with editorial appointments on important professional journals. But loads of labor can be a price of one’s prestige, as most experienced in vetting 6,363 article submissions, 923 book manuscripts, and writing 6,974 recommendations.
Of course honors accumulate for such renown and diligence, like a Linus Pauling Medal and election to the National Academy of Sciences for emeriti at Santa Barbara; or a Pulitzer Prize for a UCLA emeritus; or a National Humanities Medal conferred at the White House, and the surrealism of being named an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, when one lives in Riverside. A Davis emeritus sighed over “a wall covered with honorary plaques, papers, and statuettes.” It’s all in the game but a worthy one, as are Distinguished Teaching awards cited by respondents. All told, within just these two years, 434 honors attested to this crowd’s distinction.
After such professional notoriety Community Service seems footnoteish but, even before UC’s currently critical political days, public relations deserved the attention emeriti gave them. During the biennium these and other worthy causes prompted their service on committees of 544 local, 73 state, and 196 national organizations, while masochists held offices on 116, attention which no doubt contributed to the 74 honors they received in this arena.
In sum, how may one define the spirit that rises from this survey’s quite stunning or numbing mass of data? In composing a history of Western Civilization for Oxford University Press, a historian has recently been advised by editors to simplify some of his terms for a student readership. “Altruism” was one of them.
Too civilized? Extending beyond old Ainsworth, that quality seems to inform the efforts of many emeriti who, by adding an ultimate third to their long careers, are unobtrusively contributing so much to everyone and everything that UC serves and stands for.
SURVEY RESPONSE RATE
Campus Emeriti Surveyed # of Responses % of Response
UC Berkeley 968 235 24
UC Davis 325 186 57
UC Irvine 349 82 23
UC Los Angeles 956 322 34
UC Riverside 88 41 47
UC San Diego 400 122 31
UC San Francisco 129 34 26
UC Santa Barbara 393 152 39
UC Santa Cruz 82 45 55
Totals 3690 1219 33
COMPOSITE SURVEY DATA
Total Number Surveyed 3,690
Percent Responding 33%
Respondents’ Retirement Dates
Before 1991 109
1991-1995 (Early Retirement Programs) 398
Have Campus Space 668
Extramural Grants 351
Staff Supported 1,372
Research Assistants 749
Post Docs 279
Office Space 39
Laboratory Space 27
Secretarial Work 52
Publications and Professional Works
Book Chapters 741
Book Reviews 579
Professional Reports 425
Consulting Reports 852
Technological Projects 105
Professional Lectures/Papers 3,340
Scholarly Projects in Progress 1,023
Literary Works 752
Music/Theater Works 4
Art Works 413
On campus 428
Undergraduates mentored 6,644
Graduate students mentored 7,091
University Service: Committees/Groups
Academic Senate 310
Fund Raising 205
Special Appointments/Positions 144
Offices Held 202
Editorial Appointments 559
Articles Reviewed 6,363
Book Mss. Reviewed 923
Written Recommendations 6,974
Other Service 286
Professional Honors 434
Community Service: Committees/Boards
Offices Held 116
Average Campus Visits per Week 2.5
Less or More Busy than Before Retirement (88% reporting)
The Same as Before 528