As state university systems are making budget cuts and furloughing professors while have to expand course sections to meet burgeoning enrollment, one solution may be to tap the expertise of retired professors in the area.
The Research Triangle area of North Carolina, home to over a dozen colleges and universities, is also home to at least 600 retired professors.
This morning, Eric Ferreri of the Raleigh News & Observer, one of the best higher-ed reporters in the biz, reports on the offers from very accomplished profs who want to give back to their community and the relative lack of response from the big universities:
Evelyn Huber has found a way to tap those resources. Huber chairs the political science department, where budget cuts would have forced her to eliminate an honors seminar on European politics because she didn’t have the $7,500 to pay an instructor.
She found an answer in Jurg Steiner, who spent 40 years on the UNC faculty before retiring in 2000. He has taught on a part-time basis since and was happy to do so without pay this semester. If anything, Steiner is a better teacher now than he used to be when he balanced a full teaching load with research and administrative responsibilities, he said. And he spends at least half of each year in Europe conducting research that he incorporates into his politics seminar.
Of course, there is some reticence to such a temporary solution:
While budget cuts have strained many academic departments, university leaders are leery of plugging retired faculty members into roles that may not fit them perfectly.
“This really has to be one of those things where matches get made,” said Ron Strauss, [UNC-Chapel Hill] executive associate provost. “We don’t want to bring back people who ended their academic careers several years ago and aren’t keeping on the cutting edge of their disciplines, just as a stopgap measure.”
[. . .]
Still, Strauss concedes that if professors are a good match, department heads would be wise to use them.
What do you think? Does your university have a program for connecting retired profs with current academics?