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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