Emeritus perks

December 3, 2015

It would be easy to moan about emeritus status, citing numerous complaints about poor facilities and the absence of engagement with younger colleagues and students, but even with these caveats it is a great boon to have an academic address and free access to the online literature, neither of which requires an office or even a seat somewhere in the old department (“Professors emeriti: the invisible academics”, Opinion, 26 November). Further, the spread of fast broadband across the UK makes it possible to work from home most of the time.

Thus, we may be invisible but many of us are happily churning out what we assume to be our definitive late-career papers, reviews and books, and in return refereeing submitted manuscripts for grateful editors. We have the time to do a good job, and the stream of requests from journals keeps us up with our fields. Moreover, we haven’t neglected the social side of retirement. My old institution has an active luncheon club and my old department an “Old Boys and Survivors” group who regularly meet in selected public houses. Do we slag off the current management? Of course, but it’s between ourselves and a necessary part of old age. After all, things were so much better in our day, weren’t they?

I have found one anomaly: I cannot register my publications with the university, as I was cut off from the online mechanism for doing so on the day I retired, yet these papers still carry the old departmental address and seem to exist in academic limbo. The same exclusion prevents me from receiving “all-staff” emails, which among other things announce the deaths of other emeriti on the sad occasions when the Grim Reaper visits. But come to think of it, perhaps this is a kindness. By the same token, I am also saved from managerial bombast.

David Bignell
Via timeshighereducation.com

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