Juxtaposed without comment: Retirement & the 2-career academic couple

It’s been a hard month, but I think the worm will turn, schedule-wise over the next week or two, and so I can become a bit more human.  In the interval, a couple of interesting links:

  • When people complain about state employees’ unions, a frequent target is alleged gold-plated pensions.  But that’s not what many professors have.  Most of the CSU-AAUP faculty, for example, are in the so-called Alternate Retirement Program, which is a 403(b) fixed-contribution plan. You contribute up to 5% of your income; the state pays 8%–and you vest immediately.  There are still pension plans available, but you have to wait a long time to vest.  Given the vagaries of academic work, the ARP seems like it makes sense when you enroll.  (I’m in ARP: I didn’t want to be locked into a pension plan before I knew whether A would be able to get a job in the area.)  As The Connecticut Alternate Retirement Program Crisis Toolkit website suggests, however, people who’re in this program are . . . well, let’s just say it’s not pretty.  And to be clear: The shift away from defined-benefit to defined-contribution was a comparatively losing deal even before the stock market was wiped out last year.
  • Relatedly, Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research is sponsoring a (free!) conference in two weeks, entitled Dual-Career Academic Couples: Strategies and Opportunities.  (A YouTube overview is available, too.)  There’s even a Ning site about it.  Although there aren’t a lot of members yet, it seems as though it could be promising.  Since A. just earned tenure and promotion, our interests in this topic are evolving, but it’s still a source of opportunity (flexible schedules!) and stress (man . . . we’re *both* in the %(*!-ing ARP!).

Update: Retirement is going to be a major issue, in a variety of different contexts, in higher education over the next decade or so.  See this development at Eastern Michigan.

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3 Responses to Juxtaposed without comment: Retirement & the 2-career academic couple

  1. Otis says:

    I hear you. The myth of state employees with golden retirement benefits needs to die and come back to reality. Administrative faculty SUOAF-AFSCME are in the same slowly sinking ship. I see the movement I had heard started at ECSU to try and improve this for us in ARP is growing, but with fewer years to my retirement, 29 years into my ARP and an economy that is not healthy, and having jumped from Social Security in 1988 I’m not holding my breath for those ‘golden’ years. (Hello! Welcome to WalMart!)

  2. I think traditional eighteenth-century congratulations are due to A.:

    Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

  3. Jason says:

    Chris–oh, I agree. I’ve been sitting on a fairly pissy blog post dedicated to those people over the years who have bizarrely slighted her accomplishments.

    Cooler heads have mostly prevailed. Mostly!

    But we’ve been excited!

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