Aging professors won’t lead to jobs

by Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota’s educators are aging. Almost 40 percent of faculty members at the Twin Cities campus are at least 55 years old.

This phenomenon is more visible in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, whose average faculty member is 54 years old. It is estimated that 32 percent of its tenured or tenure-track faculty members will retire within 10 years. 
United States law formerly required college professors to retire upon reaching 70 years of age, but this requirement was abolished in 1994. However, some people have sought to reinstate the law, citing concerns that aging professors are clogging the job market for younger applicants. This perception is heightened by studies like the 2013 survey by Fidelity Investments, which showed that about three-fourths of professors ages 49 to 67 planned to delay retirement or never to retire at all. 
While we think it’s probable that the baby boomers’ retirement will diversify the academy in terms of both gender and race, we are highly skeptical that it will somehow open to the doors to many of the doctoral and adjunct professors currently struggling to attain tenured or tenure-track positions. 
Unfortunately, some fields simply do not offer enough tenure-track jobs for everyone. Rather than hoping that a wave of retirees will solve academia’s underemployment problem, those seeking tenure-track positions might be better off looking for work beyond a college campus.