Teachers College/ Columbia University
Phased Retirement Program
The broad purpose of the Phased Retirement Program (the “Program”) is to provide an opportunity for a faculty member (the “Participant”) to progressively decrease workload rather than going immediately into full retirement. The Program is an entirely voluntary and mutually agreed upon arrangement between Teachers College/Columbia University (the “College”) and the Participant. The Program will accomplish a number of important goals:
· It assists the College in diversifying the faculty by releasing positions and funds.
· It permits orderly planning within academic programs and departments, which allows for assessment of program directions and staffing needs.
· It enables doctoral students to complete their dissertation research with the advisement of their sponsor as that faculty member approaches retirement.
· It responds to the commonly expressed desire of many faculty members to move into retirement gradually.
· Thus, it forms an important part of the long-range personnel resource management of the College.
The Program is available only to full-time tenured faculty members who, by August 31 of the year of application to participate in the Program are or will be at least 55 years of age, have had minimally five years of continuous full-time service at the College as a faculty member, and whose age and years of full-time service at the College as a faculty member add up to at least 75. Therefore, a faculty member who is 55 years of age, for example, would need 20 years of service to be eligible, whereas at 70 years of age only 5 years of service as a faculty member would be required.
Tenured faculty members who are currently serving as a Department Chair or in another administrative position at the College are not eligible for the Program until they vacate these positions.
Faculty members who, in the current academic year, were on either a full academic year sabbatical or a spring term sabbatical are not eligible for phased retirement. After sabbatical leave, they must return to full-time appointment for one semester before they can enter the Program. Faculty members who were on sabbatical in the Fall term are eligible for phased retirement.
Note: All references to “years” in this document are to academic years (September through August).
Interested faculty members should consult with their Department Chair and develop a mutually agreeable Phase-Down Plan specifying: (a) research, doctoral advisement, teaching and service responsibilities, (b) initiation date and (c) duration of the phase-down period. After consultation, the faculty member should complete the Application to Participate in the Phased Retirement Program, have the Department Chair sign it, and deliver it to the Dean of the Faculty, by February 15 of the current academic year. In a cover letter, the faculty member must demonstrate how the staffing needs of the program will be met during the phase-down period and what the budgetary impact will be. When the Participant and the Dean have agreed to the Phase-Down Plan, it is sent to the President of the College for review and final approval.
The Phase-Down Plan may be for a period of one to three years and must begin during the fall semester. During the phase-down period, the Participant may progressively reduce workload by 25%, 50% or 75%.
A 50% reduction in workload can be achieved two ways: (a) the Participant works 100% during the fall semester and is relieved of all duties during the spring semester, or (b) the Participant works 50% of the time during both semesters.
During a three-year phase-down period, one limitation is that the same workload-reduction cannot occur more than twice. For example, an acceptable sequence would involve working 75% of the time during the first year, and 50% of the time during the second and third years. Alternatively, the Participant may work 50% of the time during the first two years and 25% during the third year. An unacceptable sequence would involve a 75% reduction for three successive years.
The written Phase-Down Plan specifies a date certain at which time the Participant transitions to full retirement. The Plan includes a waiver under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and an irrevocable agreement to retire at the end of the phase-down period. Once phased retirement is initiated, the College and the Participant cannot modify the duration of the Phase-Down Plan (i.e., number of years and full-retirement date). However, the workload-reduction schedule can be modified if mutually agreed to by the Participant, the Department Chair and the Dean. Furthermore, at any time during the phase-down period, the Participant has the right to leave the Program and convert to full retirement (relinquishing unused portions of the length-of-service benefit).
Responsibilities and Rights during the Phase-Down
The Participant is required to fulfill all responsibilities as specified in the approved Phase-Down Plan. In addition, during phased retirement, the Participant’s primary professional commitment is to the College. If a Participant is employed elsewhere during the Phase Down Plan period, that employment should not pose either a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment. Faculty participating in the Phase Down Plan may allocate one day to outside professional activities, as provided by present policy at the College.
Note: the Phased-Retirement Program is meant to facilitate a faculty member’s transition into retirement, not the transition to other employment. A faculty member always has the option of moving into full retirement and assuming employment elsewhere.
Participants have the same privileges, voting rights and access to all grievance and appeal procedures as other faculty members. Office and laboratory space, secretarial support and other resources available prior to phased retirement will continue to be provided. However, during the phase-down period, Participants are not eligible for sabbatical leave.
In addition, once in the Program, Participants are not eligible for any other retirement programs that the College might offer.
Compensation and Benefits
Salary. During each year of the phase-down period, the Participant’s full-time academic year base salary is reduced by the percentage of workload-reduction and is augmented by a length-of-service benefit. The length of service benefit is derived by crediting each year of service as 2% of the Participant’s salary during the last year of full-time appointment which is the year prior to the first year of phased retirement. For example, a Participant with 25 years of service at the start of the phase-down period and an academic year base salary of $100,000 the year prior to phase-down would receive a $50,000 length-of-service benefit. The Participant decides how to allocate this sum during the phase-down period. For example, with a $50,000 benefit, $20,000 may be used to augment the base salary during the first year of phased retirement and $30,000 during the second year. One exception to the Participant’s allocation is that no year’s payment of base + benefit can exceed 100% of the academic year base salary for that year. However, grant monies can augment total salary even though this addition exceeds the base + benefit level.
Salary payments are annualized (equal installments over 12 months). All payments during phased retirement are subject to federal, state and local taxes unless partially sheltered within a supplementary retirement account with TIAA/CREF or within the discretionary medical/child care account. Salary deductions will also be made for FICA and Medicare.
Benefits. The College’s contribution to the Participant’s retirement account with TIAA/CREF remains at the same rate as prior to phased retirement but is based on the total salary (base plus length-of-service benefit) during each year of the phased-down period. Until the actual date of full retirement, participating faculty continue to be entitled to receive all privileges and benefits of full-time faculty members including:
(a) Medical and dental insurance
(b) Life insurance and disability (based on pre-phased retirement levels)
(c) The right to remain in faculty housing and the right to remain in the same apartment occupied before the phased-down period
(d) Tuition assistance for dependent children
At the time of full retirement, the existing retirement policies concerning benefits will be applied.
At any time, the Program can be modified or terminated without affecting implementation of existing Phase-Down Plans.
In addition, it is recommended that a formal review be undertaken five years after initiating the Program to evaluate the academic and financial consequences.
 To allow for coordination with department planning for permissions to recruit, the priority deadline for applications to participate in the Phased Retirement Program in the coming academic year will be December 23, 2008. To provide as much flexibility as possible, applications to participate in the Phased Retirement Program will continue to be received and reviewed through April 1 of the current academic year, provided that the proposed phase down plan could be accommodated by the academic department.