Georgia Tech Receives Award for Innovative Faculty Retirement Practices

The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a $100,000 grant from the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its innovative work in faculty retirement.

Along with 14 other institutions honored, Georgia Tech demonstrated a best practice in three stages in culmination of faculty careers: the development of a legacy, the transition into retirement and the continuing involvement of faculty in the academic community post-retirement.

Georgia Tech was recognized for offering a phased retirement program that allows the Institute to expend work involvement at 49 percent after completion of a mandatory hiatus. In addition, Georgia Tech allows faculty members to opt out of the defined benefits plan and to select a defined contributions plan that is appealing to those faculty members who may not stay 10 years, the mandatory time required to vest in the traditional plan. Optional contributions to retirement accounts and the choice to use a high deductible health plan also allow faculty to boost their savings.

Future plans include surveying faculty to determine their level of knowledge and satisfaction regarding their retirement options. There are also proposals to more formally incorporate retirees as mentors for younger faculty members.

 “As part of the Georgia Tech Strategic Plan, the Institute is in relentless pursuit of institutional effectiveness,” said Vice President for Institute Diversity Archie Ervin.  “This award is one example of how Georgia Tech strives to ensure that we are implementing the best practices and ensuring faculty have options as they retire.” Rosario Gerhardt, executive director for Research and Institute Collaboration in the Office of Institute Diversity, who was responsible for submitting the winning application, also  acknowledged “the invaluable assistance of the Institutional Research and Planning and Human Resources offices at Georgia Tech and the work by the benefits committee of the Academic Senate as instrumental in allowing us to submit a competitive application.”

“With the generous support of the Sloan Foundation, ACE is pleased to recognize institutions like Georgia Tech for creating win-win solutions that involve faculty in meaningful ways before, during and after retirement,” said Gretchen Bataille, senior vice president for Leadership and Lifelong Learning at ACE.

“Our intent in funding these awards is to broaden the national conversation and the agenda within higher education to take into account the full scope of the culminating stage of faculty careers,” said Kathleen Christensen, Working Longer program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “We are hopeful these award-winning institutions can provide examples for our community of thoughtful approaches that can be modeled.”

The names of the other institutions honored, along with summaries of their award-winning activities, can be found on the ACE website. In addition, each of the winners will draft a chapter about their campus practices that will be included in an upcoming ACE monograph. They will also have the opportunity to disseminate their best practices at conferences and in other venues.

“Transitioning into retirement marks an important phase in a faculty career,” Senior Advisor and Project Director Claire Van Ummersen said. “These 15 colleges and universities are to be commended for their recognition of and positive actions in addressing this major milestone.”

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, the Institute enrolls 21,000 students within its six colleges. Georgia Tech is the nation's leading producer of engineers as well as a leading producer of female and minority engineering Ph.D. graduates. Holding more than 780 patents and receiving approximately $570 million in sponsored awards, Georgia Tech ranks among the nation's top ten universities (without a medical school) in research expenditures. Visit www.gatech.edu for more information.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit www.acenet.edu or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation, its Working Longer program is expanding understanding of aging Americans’ work patterns.