(QUFA is pleased to publish the following post from Sylvia Söderlind.)
I’m disturbed by the implications of the phased-in retirement plan (see http://www.queensu.ca/vpac/FacultyRelations/EarlyRetirementIncentivePlanLink1.pdf). I qualify for the plan and will likely apply for it, but I will be holding my nose while I do so, as the implications for my department begin to sink in. According to the two-year plan, I would be allowed to keep my salary (or at least most of it) for two years while performing only 75% of my duties in the first year and 50% in the second. I don’t think the world will suffer if I reduce the research component of my 40-40-20 by that amount, nor do I think my colleagues will look askance if I reduce my service participation. What will hurt others, however, and badly, is the reduction in teaching for which no compensation will be forthcoming. My good fortune will mean fewer courses for students, larger classes for colleagues. In my department, English, the 10% faculty complement allowed to take advantage of the plan amounts to three people, and it is a good guess that as many will apply. If we do, the department will lose nine courses from the roster over the next three years. Were we to buy ourselves out of these courses, the department would receive the savings from our salaries, at $8,000 per course, which would allow for replacements. As I understand it, none of the savings from the phased-in plan will revert to the academic units. Needless to say, few departments in the Faculty of Arts and Science can afford any replacements at this time of drastic cutbacks. And why is it that in non-departmentalized units only 5% of faculty are allowed to participate? Are English professors more expendable than business profs, or are English students less important than commerce students?
Much as I am happy to think of a slow ride into the sunset, I can’t help feeling there is something very wrong with this picture. At a time when cooperation seems more than ever called for, we are encouraged to act on self-interest. Were the academic units consulted on this issue? How do those QUFA members who will be called on to pick up the slack look at this?
Department of English