Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2006

Joy of ‘Ageism’

Compulsory retirement at age 65 was one of the best things that ever happened to me during my academic life. I am now financially free (pensioned) to follow the intellectual topics that intrigue me. My publication rate has increased over the past 10 years, based on data collected both before and after retirement. I teach only when I want to and get paid fees (not salary), from which I can deduct the costs of my home office before taxation. I have a university e-mail account, library privileges and access to other campus facilities.

I noticed during my last few years of full-time teaching and research that I was slowing down and could not keep as up-to-date as I should have. Students noticed — some politely, some not so politely.

If I had been allowed at 65 to stay on as a full-time teacher I probably would have stayed, and would have gradually gotten exhausted and become part of the so-called academic deadwood. I have a suspicion that the academics who will stay on after 65 are the ones who shouldn’t. Those elderly academics who are carrying full teaching loads are far better off intellectually being retired.

Derek Ellis
Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria