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.