Prepared by CURFA
The University of Colorado Retired Faculty Association
Disclaimer: This Guide is offered for assistance and information only and is not an official or endorsed University publication.
This is the first time I’ve ever retired. How do I do it?
As members of the CU faculty (401a Optional Retirement Plan participants) contemplate retirement, they often have difficulty finding or accessing the information that is essential to making sound decisions with regard to this crucial career step. In an effort to assist these colleagues, the CU Retired Faculty Association, in consultation with the CU system administration and campus administrations, has prepared this guide.
The purpose of this guide is to supplement information provided by the CU Payroll and Benefits Office. The information the guide provides is applicable to retirement-eligible active faculty members, as well as to those who have already retired. Retirement policies, procedures, options, benefits and related matters are not fixed permanently and may vary from campus to campus. They may be amended or supplemented by the administration to meet the changing needs of personnel and the university. The goal of this guide is to provide information that is comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date as of the time of its preparation. Revision of the guide can be expected as retirement provisions are changed. The reader is advised to verify detailed information, such as the names of individuals to be contacted and dollar amounts given in illustrations of pecuniary benefits.
Retirement by tenured faculty calls for the voluntary termination of tenure. Thus, it is an act that has legal implications. The guide does not offer advice about the personal decisions related to retirement. It is intended to assist the readers, in consultation with the appropriate academic and benefits administrators as well as outside personal and financial advisors, in making those decisions that best fit their circumstances, interests, and plans for the future. The guide does provide contacts to sources of more detailed information and guidance within the university.
The principal topics covered are:
- Current university policies and procedures governing faculty retirement
- The benefits accompanying retirement, including those specific to each campus, and the effects on benefits of the chosen mode of retirement
- The procedures to be followed, including those specific to each campus
- The offices that can provide detailed information and guidance on issues important to individual retirees, with telephone and e-mail addresses.
- Life after retirement, based on the actual experiences and choices of those already retired.
A well-planned retirement is a key to life after one’s university career reaches its formal ending. For tenured faculty members, retirement involves the termination of tenure, a major life event. It is not necessarily the end of productive relations with the university. The authors hope that this guide will aid in making the decisions that lead to a satisfying future.
The following have contributed to the preparation and review of this guide:
The CURFA authors are: Carl Kisslinger (project coordinator), Robert Fink (UCB), Franz Roehmann (UCDHSC-downtown Denver), Stuart Schneck (UCDHSC-HSC), Richard Blade (UCCS). Invaluable assistance in the form of suggestions for content and for reviews of the various drafts was provided by many from the system and campus administrations: Anne Costain (Associate Vice President for Human Resources ), Mark Stanker (Assistant Vice President, Payroll and Benefits Services). Kimberley Barton and Roberta Martinez (PBS Benefits) and the members of the Human Resources Policy Group; from the UCDHSC: Steven Lowenstein, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs (School of Medicine), Marguerite Childs, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Betsy Rodriguez, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, and Pamela Laird, DDC; from UCB, Jeffrey Cox, Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs, Paul Tabolt, Vice Chancellor for Administration.
This guide is not an official publication of the University of Colorado. The authors have made a good-faith effort to be complete and accurate in compiling and summarizing the information provided by the several University sources. Because University policies and retirement benefits, as well as campus practices, are subject to change, each reader must take personal responsibility for verifying the accuracy and timeliness of information contained herein before acting upon it.
1. The Options and Procedures for Retirement
Getting started. A recommended starting point is a careful reading of the Preparing to Retire booklet, written and updated by the Payroll and Benefits Office (PBS). The current 2006-2007 version is available on-line at the Internet address (1) below. The guidance offered by the booklet begins with actions to be taken three to five years before retirement. Thus, you are advised to begin planning for satisfying post-retirement well in advance. Thoughtful planning is essential to achieving the outcome you desire.
The system-wide policies governing retirement of the faculty employed by the University of Colorado are set forth in the relevant sections of the policies of the Regents (see particularly 11.I) and in Administrative Policy Statements (APS) adopted by the system administration of the university. The Payroll and Benefits Office (PBS) implements these broad aspects of retirement. These documents provide the details of the requirements that must be met to qualify for the normal, early, and phased modes of retirement, the effects on retirement income and benefits of the mode chosen, and the medical plans and related benefits available to retirees. A purpose of this guide is to provide the reader the links to information readily available, but which may be obscure and difficult for a prospective retiree to identify and locate. The most important topics are summarized here, but the reader is urged to consult the complete details in documents available on the comprehensive system web sites:
Provides the current (2006-2007) version of the Preparing-to-Retire booklet and a calendar of retirement steps for the current year
Provides links to many useful documents, including a benefits guide and the phased retirement options
Outlines the life events, including age and length of service at the university, that qualify persons for retirement.
The booklet at site (1) is referred to in this guide as the PBS booklet. PBS also has a small but very complete brochure that gives a benefits summary for faculty and exempt professionals. Early consultation with a PBS benefits counselor is a necessary part of the retirement procedure.
In addition to the general options and benefits that are applicable to all qualified prospective retirees, some details of procedures and benefits vary from one university campus to another. These campus-specific issues, which involve interactions with the offices of the chancellor, dean, and department chair, are addressed in Section 1.2 of this guide.
1.1 System-wide issues
1.11 Eligibility for retirement
The university currently offers faculty three modes of retirement: normal, early, and phased. Eligibility for each of these is determined on the basis of age plus years of eligible CU service. The minimum age of eligibility for retirement is 55. For normal retirement, which qualifies for 100 percent of CU benefit contributions towards medical, dental, and basic life insurance, age plus years of service must equal or exceed 75. Early retirement provides a pro-rated CU contribution to retirement benefits, and requires age plus years of service to equal or exceed 70. The pro-rated CU contribution is given in a table in the PBS booklet. For example, at age 65, with 5 years of service, the pro-rated CU contribution is 50%; at age 55, with 15 years of service, it is 75%. If the PBS booklet is not immediately available, you can calculate the pro-rated CU contribution by dividing the number of years of CU service by the number that when added to the age at retirement equals 75.
The phased retirement option offers qualified faculty members a transition to full retirement. To be eligible, a tenured or tenure-track faculty member must be at least 55 years old at the time of retirement, with age plus years of CU service equaling at least 75. The terms of the agreement offer some flexibility in choices. The guidelines are described in the PBS booklet and at site (3) above. The key issues of the fraction of time to be worked and the corresponding fraction of compensation to be received are spelled out in an administrative policy statement (APS). The agreement is negotiated with the department or primary unit chair and is subject to approval by the chancellor (or designee) of the campus. As this guide is being assembled, a revised and expanded APS that will prescribe changes in the phased retirement options, as well as additional faculty retirement provisions, is being prepared for consideration by the system administration and the Regents. Under current policy, the faculty member has to average a minimum workload of at least 50% during the three-year phased retirement period. For example, a faculty member may work: 50% work at 50% pay for each year of the agreement; or 75% work-load in year 1, 50% in year 2, and 25% in year 3, at 50% pay each year during the three year term; or 75% workload each year at 75% pay; or 100% workload in the fall semester and none in the spring semester, at 50% pay over the academic year (100% pay in the fall and 0% in the spring is not an option). At the joint request of the department chair and the faculty member, with the concurrence of the dean and the Chancellor/designee, a phased retirement agreement may be renewed on a year-to-year basis for no more than two years. The maximum total phased retirement, including the initial period, is five years. To the extent permitted by tax laws, retirement plan contributions are continued as if work were continuing at 100% pay. A faculty member electing phased retirement cannot accept a full-time position with another employer, or a tenured part-time position at another university.
Non-tenure-track faculty are also eligible for the same phased retirement program as tenure-track or tenured faculty, with the exception that a provision must be placed in their retirement agreements explicitly stating that they are employees at will and may be terminated at any time, regardless of the phased retirement agreement.
1.12 General University Retirement Benefits
The pecuniary benefits available to all qualified retirees addressed by this guide are medical and dental care coverage, life insurance, and retirement income. As summarized in 1.11, the level of continuing university contribution to health plans and insurance depends on the qualifications of the retiree. The university also provides medical and dental benefits for surviving spouses/same gender domestic partners (SGDP) and eligible dependents covered by a CU medical/dental plan at the time of the retiree’s death.
The medical/dental plans available depend on whether or not the retiree and/or spouse are Medicare eligible. The result is a number of permutations and combinations of plan choices, depending on whether the retiree and spouse are both over 65 or if one is over and one under that age. These plans operate on a fiscal year basis, starting July 1, and may change annually as the university negotiates plan content and costs with insurance and health care providers. An example for retirees enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B is the CU Medicare Supplement Plan offered by CU through Great-West Health. The University currently pays 94% of the total premium for a single retiree for this plan. It pays 74% for a retiree plus spouse/SGDP and 86% for a surviving spouse/SGDPAn Alternative Medicare Supplement Plan (AMP) currently pays directly to the retiree $127.63 per month, or $217.63 per month for the retiree and spouse/SDGP. These payments are currently taxable as income, but readers are encouraged to explore taxation issues with a financial adviser. Because the plans chosen may have a major impact on the retiree’s welfare, it is essential that he or she carefully study the options and/or consult with a benefits counselor at PBS if more information about choices or their implications is needed. The CURFA ombudsman or the member of the University Benefits Advisory Board (UBAB) charged with overseeing retiree benefits (currently Stuart A. Schneck, M.D. 303-761-0617) may also be helpful. Choices of plans and changes to previous choices may be made only during the annual open enrollment period, which is widely publicized by PBS. Current plan options (spring 2006) are summarized in the on-line PBS Booklet.
Basic retiree life insurance of $3,000, fully paid for by the university for those eligible for 100% CU contribution, is a universal benefit for any qualified faculty member. A pro-rated CU contribution is provided for those choosing early retirement. Additional life insurance up to $9,500, paid for by the retiree at an age-graded rate (see PBS booklet), is available as an option.
Retirees should be aware of the tax consequences of “imputed income.” As defined by the Internal Revenue Service, this is the value of any non-cash benefit that should be counted as wages for the purposes of calculating taxes. The example given by PBS that is most likely to affect retirees is employer-provided medical and dental insurance coverage for a non-qualified dependent, as defined by the IRS. Consult a PBS benefits counselor or IRS Publication 501 for details on the definition of a qualified dependent.
Retirement income from university-based plans depends entirely on choices and contributions made during your active career. A combination of the payout from a university-sponsored plan and Social Security is the customary source, possibly supplemented by income from your personal investments. It is your responsibility to contact your chosen retirement-fund sponsor when your retirement decision is firm. A key decision for retirees is whether or not to annuitize, i.e., to contract to receive guaranteed payments at regular intervals, possibly with periodic adjustments, some or all of their retirement funds and, if so, when to do this. This is an irrevocable step, and should be taken only after detailed and serious consideration. The opportunities to discuss significant issues with retirement fund sponsors, such as TIAA-CREF or the investment company that you have chosen, should be fully used, including interviews with representatives who may come to the campus. Some useful toll-free telephone numbers are in the PBS Booklet and the appendix to this guide.
As part of your retirement planning, you should contact your retirement plan sponsor (TIAA-CREF or other, see appendix for some contacts) and Social Security well in advance of the anticipated retirement date (nine months to a year, preferably more) to request income projections. You should also inquire about the income tax treatment of pension income in the state in which you plan to retire. For example, if you will be a resident of Colorado and are over age 55, the state (for 2006) allows you to subtract up to $20,000 (under age 65) or $24,000 (age 65 or older) of retirement income when computing your Colorado income tax liability. The same is true for your spouse, if he or she has independent retirement income. There are special rules for the treatment of Social Security benefits if both spouses receive them and file a joint federal return.
Emeritus/emerita status for faculty provides a continuing affiliation with the department, campus, and the university, but without monetary compensation. The appointment to emeritus/emerita professor upon retirement is made according to the normal procedures for academic appointments. Review and approval by the department is submitted for approval by the chancellor of the campus and, then, to the Regents. The standard procedure is for the retiree to request in writing departmental consideration of appointment to this status. The department chair or dean may initiate the request.
All retired faculty retain their status as voting members of the University Faculty Senate and may receive invitations to commencements and other appropriate campus and university functions.
The CU Alumni Association arranges group travel programs that are also open to CU retirees.
1.13 The process
Key steps in the process leading to retirement, including negotiations for post- retirement perquisites, may depend on which campus is your academic home. Campus-by-campus details are given in the following Section 1.2. In all cases, the process will proceed through the Payroll and Benefits Services Office.
The recommended procedure, once you have decided to explore retirement as your next career step and, perhaps, have discussed this action with your department chair, is to take the actions listed in the PBS booklet for the interval three to five years before retirement. One outcome should be the determination of which of the modes of retirement you are qualified for and which will best serve your needs and aspirations. The PBS recommends a number of steps one year before retiring to firm up your decisions and acquire information about your anticipated retirement income.
After completing the “Preparing to Retire Worksheet”, which is appended to this guide and is in the PBS Booklet, two or three months before retiring, you should call the local PBS office and make an appointment to meet with a PBS benefit counselor to discuss your retiree benefit options.
The central PBS office is at 3100 Marine Street, 6th floor, in Boulder; telephone 303-735-6500 or toll-free, 877-627-1877. This office also serves the faculty on the Boulder campus. Downtown Denver faculty and exempt professionals should also contact this office to determine when a benefits counselor will be available locally and to make an appointment. The PBS office in Colorado Springs, Monday – Friday, is in Room 106, Cragmore Hall; telephone 719-262-3607. Serving the Health Science Center, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, is the office on the 4th floor of Building 500 at Fitzsimmons; telephone 303-724-0146. You should bring the completed Preparing to Retire Worksheet and request a Retiree Benefits Enrollment Packet. All of the required forms and documentation must be submitted to PBS within 31 days prior to your retirement date.
The income from Social Security for those who have contributed to that system, and your coverage under Medicare are also significant parts of retirement financial planning. The choices made among Medicare options may influence decisions to be made with respect to university-sponsored medical plans. A visit to the local Social Security Administration office, well in advance of your planned retirement date, is required. Call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (serves all offices) or go to the web site, http://www.ssa.gov/, to make an appointment. You will be told what documents, such as birth certificates, marriage license, and military discharge papers, you should bring. The local addresses of Social Security offices are: Denver, 4th floor, 1616 Champa St; Boulder, Suite 101, 4949 Pearl East Circle; Colorado Springs, 1049 N. Academy Blvd.
What if limited time to retirement is an issue? Throughout this guide we have emphasized the importance of careful planning well in advance of the date of retirement. However, an unexpected change in life circumstances may require that a faculty member retire sooner than had been anticipated. For example, the need may arise to serve as caregiver for spouse or domestic partner because of a permanent injury or disabling medical condition. The steps to retirement remain unchanged, but prompt action in what may be a stressful situation is needed. The department or primary unit chair must be informed as soon as the need becomes clear. The prospective faculty retiree must determine the mode of retirement, normal or early, for which he/she is qualified (phased retirement seems an unlikely choice in these circumstances). Prompt consultation with the retirement plan sponsor (TIAA-CREF or other) and the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility for benefits and the anticipated post-retirement income is a necessity. An appointment with a PBS benefits counselor, probably followed by a session with the campus faculty affairs officer or other person responsible for retirement implementation will move the process toward the desired result.. Experienced personnel will do their best to accommodate the immediate needs.
1.2 Campus-related Issues
The interactions with PBS concern mainly pecuniary issues of medical plans, insurance, and retirement income applicable to all retiring faculty. Other details that should be included in your retirement agreement must be worked out with the administrations of your campus, your school or college, and your department or other primary unit. Campus-specific benefits and agreements for post-retirement university-related activities to be negotiated depend on your plans and wishes with regard to continued participation in teaching, scholarly work, and service, and the resources available in the unit to support these activities. The options available and the people you should consult with depend on your campus home. The current status for each campus is summarized here.
1.21 Boulder Campus
Contacts for information. The central office of PBS serves the Boulder campus, with a number of benefits counselors available. It is located at 3100 Marine Street, 6th floor; telephone: 303-735-6500. For campus-specific information and for negotiations of your faculty retirement agreement, the contact is Jeff Cox, associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs, in Room 205, Regent Administrative Center; telephone: 303-492-5491; e-mail: AVCJeff.Cox@colorado.edu. The standard retirement letter currently used for Boulder campus retirees is appended to this guide. The campus and CURFA ombudsman, currently Robert Fink, can be helpful with many retirement issues. That office is in Room 25, 3100 Marine Street; telephone:303-492-1574.
Library privileges. Retired faculty have the same UCB library privileges as other faculty and staff, and are automatically registered with the Libraries. Retirees need a current UCB ID card to check out materials. Spouses and domestic partners of UCB retired faculty, and surviving spouses, may apply for a public patron card at no charge. Application must be made at the Norlin Circulation Desk by filling out the appropriate form. Library privileges will be the same as those of public patrons.
UCB ID CARD and EcoPass. If you have an "active" appointment in the UCB personnel system you will qualify for a BuffOne ID card. If you are not classified as “active” faculty, you can apply for a CU Affiliate ID Card, which will read “Retired Faculty.” Either of these cards can be acquired at the Campus Card Office located in the first floor lobby of Willard Hall. The first card (valid for five years) will be provided by the Vice Chancellor for Administration. Subsequently, retired faculty members can purchase a card that expires in one year for $5.00, or in five years for $20.00. This card identifies you as a retired CU faculty member for Recreation Center access, building door access and library access (present the card initially at the Patron’s Desk) when appropriate.
Retirees on active appointment in a department receive an RTD EcoPass sticker.
Parking privileges. Free or reduced cost access to specified parking space is available to all qualified retirees. A parking permit renewable by simple application, good for two years, is mailed to retirees by Parking and Transportation Services (502 UCB, 402-7384.) These permits are not transferable and may not be used by members of the retiree’s family.
Continued access to office and or laboratory space, including limited use of departmental supplies and secretarial services. The decision as to whether space allotments can be made and whether the use of that space will be exclusive or shared is made at the departmental level. The department is expected to meet the needs of retired faculty, while taking into account the expected contributions of the retiree to departmental and university welfare.
Internet access and email privileges. Upon retirement UCB faculty may continue their e-mail accounts free of charge. This should happen automatically, but if this is not the case, retirees can contact the CURFA Ombudsperson, currently Robert Fink (email@example.com, 303-494-8958) who will help them apply for an account through the CU Retired Faculty Association. Surviving spouses of retired faculty are also eligible for this benefit.
Some other benefits and privileges. UCB retired faculty who have been appointed emeritus/emerita professor are listed as such in the UCB Directory and receive a free copy of the annually updated Directory. Departments often invite their retired faculty members to attend seminars, social events, and department meetings. Retirees retain eligibility for membership in the CU Credit Union. They may purchase tickets to athletic events on the same basis as active faculty and staff. Retirees have the use of the UCB Faculty Ombuds office (576 UCB, 303-735-1574).
Membership in CURFA. Because CURFA, an all-university organization, is based on the Boulder campus, it also serves as the retired faculty association for Boulder-area retirees. Details about membership and activities are given in Part 2 of this guide.
1.22 Colorado Springs Campus (UCCS)
Contacts for Information. The campus office of PBS is in Room 106, Cragmore Hall; Monday – Friday, telephone 719-262-3607. The on-campus Benefits counselor is Ted Baldwin. The local Social Security office is at 1049 N. Academy Boulevard.
Benefits such as office and/or laboratory space specific to UCCS retirees are negotiated with your department chair and school or college administration. The university attorney, currently Rosemary Augustine, 719-262-3820, will answer your questions regarding retirement agreements and will help you draft your individual agreement.
Library privileges. Retirees retain library privileges on the UCCS campus. You will use the ID card you had before retirement, but if the entire campus changes ID cards you will have to do so also.
Parking privileges. All retirees are automatically mailed a one-year free HUB permit each August. This permit allows parking anywhere except on the designated specialized lots and in handicapped parking. This HUB permit also allows parking in the “reciprocal parking lots” on all campuses.
Continued access to office and/or laboratory space. This benefit is to be arranged individually at the time of retirement negotiations. This is done typically with the department chair, subject to approval by the dean and then the vice-chancellor for academic affairs.
Internet access Retirees continue to have access to the Internet through campus dial-up. The current telephone number for accessing this service is 719-593-0109.
Biannual luncheons. These events, free to retired faculty and staff, provide opportunities for former colleagues to socialize and continue to interact. The luncheons are sponsored by the UCCS Foundation and the Chancellor’s office.
UCCS Retired Faculty and Staff Association. The organization of past employees retired from the UCCS campus has been in the process of formation in 2005-2006. The intent is that any person previously employed at least half-time by the campus for any length of time and currently retired is eligible for membership, as well as their spouses/partners. Information about the UCCS-RFSA may be obtained from Jaime McMullen Garcia, the Donor Relations Coordinator for the CU Foundation on the UCCS campus, telephone 719-536-4480.
1.23 UCDHSC-Downtown Denver
Contacts for information. As a result of the consolidation of the Health Sciences Center and UC-Denver, the locations and allocation of resources and responsibilities for administrative functions related to retirement are subject to change as this guide is being prepared. For the current information and appointments with Benefits counselors, prospective downtown Denver retirees are advised to call the central PBS Benefits office, 303-735-6500. The information about the days and times when these counselors come to downtown Denver is available there. Other information about UCDHSC benefits and privileges is available via the Human Resources office, 303-315-2700. The Human Resources website is: www.ucdhsc.edu/hr.
For general information related to faculty affairs, other than benefits, contact Laura Goodwin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs, 303-556-2550. The UCDHSC Ombuds office is also an excellent source of information and guidance. The web site address is: www.uchsc.edu/ombuds. The ombudsperson for the Downtown Denver campus is Mary Chavez Rudolph, 303-556-4493.
Continued access to office and laboratory facilities. This is a departmental decision, to be arranged with the chair or dean as part of the retirement agreement.
Parking. There are no parking privileges for retired faculty. A number of public lots are available. For information, contact the Auraria Center Parking Office, 303-556-2000.
Access to email and the Internet. Continued access to university email service is subject to arrangements made at the time of retirement.
Continuing library privileges. For current information on retiree library privileges, contact the Library Administration at 303-556-2805.
1.24 UCDHSC-Health Sciences Center (HSC)
For purposes of this discussion, the HSC is treated as a free-standing campus, even though it is now united administratively with the Downtown Denver campus. Two key individuals to contact with questions are Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marguerite Childs (303-315-7278) and Steven R. Lowenstein, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the School of Medicine (303-372-5631). For information from the Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy, contact the Dean’s offices (Dentistry 303-724-7100, Nursing 303-315-7754, Pharmacy 303-315-5055). The UCDHSC Ombuds office is also an excellent source of information and guidance. The web site address is: www.uchsc.edu/ombuds. The ombudsperson for the Health Sciences Center is Melissa Connell, 303-315-1014.
Six areas of non-pecuniary benefits for consideration by potential HSC retirees are:
Denison Library Privileges – Retirees retain borrowing privileges, but the use of electronic library services is regulated differently than is the case for active faculty. Each time one desires to use these electronic services, such as computers, after retirement, a reference librarian must be contacted who then will give the retiree a keycard with which the service may be accessed.
Parking – Although in the distant past, parking privileges at 9th and Colorado Boulevard were extended without charge to retirees on a space available basis, this is no longer the case. It is also not the case at Fitzsimons. Retirees who continue to perform some services for their former departments or school may negotiate, respectively, with their former department Chairperson or Dean to buy tokens or passes for them for parking privileges. Otherwise, retirees will have to pay for parking themselves. For answers to questions in this regard, contact Teresa Berryman, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at 303-724-0034.
Office Space – Within departments, this is available only on a space-available basis with the consent of the appropriate Chairperson. Discussions are being held with Associate Vice Chancellor Childs regarding the possibility of having one or more offices, so-called “landing sites”, at the Fitzsimons campus that might be available for use by groups of retirees on an as needed basis.
Secretarial Assistance – The same comments apply as in item 3.
University email network – In most cases, after retirement an individual cannot continue to have his/her email account paid for by the University. The only exceptions to this are instances in which there is ongoing academic or research work involving the retiree, and the need to continue University-paid email is validated by either the department chairperson or the Dean of the appropriate school.
Retention of a Mailbox and Fax Reception in the Retiree’s Former Department – This can usually be arranged through the department chairperson.
Attendance at HSC meetings, seminars, grand rounds and special events can easily be accomplished consistent with the interests of retirees. Announcements of these events can be obtained by continuing to receive departmental announcements, and by checking the announcement areas in the lobbies of particular schools.
2. Life after Retirement
2.1 We can learn from those who have gone before us: the variability of circumstances and the desirability of thoughtful planning.
An HSC survey. In August 2001, a survey was made at the Health Sciences Center of 31 retired faculty physicians. Their average age at the time of retirement was 67.8 years, and they had been retired for an average of 7.5 years at the time of the survey. Only three were female. None had retired for personal health reasons, although one had retired to care for an ill spouse. Only two individuals had found that their health status after retirement prevented them from indulging in desired activities.
Somewhat surprisingly, only two-thirds of respondents to the survey indicated that they had done any research into aspects of retirement other than financial planning before entering it themselves. As a result, when post-retirement benefits issues came up, several simply asked the HSC University Benefits Advisory Board representative “What shall I do?”, without paying attention to the specifics of their individual circumstances. New issues in retirement arise with increasing frequency, such as the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, and these will require a good deal of thought and research by each retiree.
Advice from respondents for future retirees was extensive. Almost all pointed out the need to keep physically and mentally active, to cultivate hobbies, and to carefully plan how to occupy one’s time. Nearly half felt it was helpful to do part-time work temporarily as a way to ease into full retirement. Several respondents stressed early and careful financial planning. A willingness to explore new activities and the “need” to let go of one’s previous occupation was mentioned also. Many felt it was important to “get seriously involved” in some activity. Others mentioned that aging, not retirement, was the real problem to be faced, and advised that activities, such as travel, should not be deferred. One person noted that one has to extend oneself to keep up relationships with colleagues still working full time, but this seemed well worth doing.
2.2 Anecdotal examples of post-retirement activities
Opportunities for continued service to the University, almost always unpaid, are often available if sought for by the retiree. Examples include teaching, service on institutional review boards, service on UBAB, special projects such as departmental or program reviews, search committees, and investigation committees. Making the chancellor, dean and former department chairperson aware of your interest in this type of service may result in an interesting and worthwhile assignment.
The ways in which faculty members spend their time after retirement are as varied as the interests, personalities, and life circumstances of people. As emphasized throughout this guide, planning ahead for all aspects of the post-retirement years is a key to the future you desire. The following examples of activities of recent retirees were taken from their replies to the Staying in Touch Form distributed by CURFA and published in its Newsletter.
Travel is one of the most frequently mentioned, often combined with photography as a serious hobby. Visits to children and grandchildren are a prime motive for travel. Many respondents keep an office at the university and come in regularly, some every weekday, some a few times each week. Related activities are volunteer service and continued research and/or teaching part-time at CU or elsewhere. Others engage in creative activities, such as writing and publishing books (novels, works in the individual’s specialty), and publishing poetry; making professional films; and composing music. Outdoor activities attract many retirees. Examples given are hiking, skiing, fishing, golf, tennis, often as part of travel.
Hobbies, some lifelong, some newly developed, such as stamp collecting and painting, are an obvious occupation for newly available time. Reading for pleasure and education is a continuing activity for many. Service as “senior specialists” to government agencies or non-governmental organizations provides opportunities for creative application of skills and knowledge gained over a lifetime. This includes professional consulting and accreditation visits to other universities. Maintenance of primary and vacation homes is often mentioned as a never-ending activity.
Participation or leadership in cultural, political, and other civic affairs offers opportunities to remain a productive contributing member of the community. Many communities sponsor organizations to recruit volunteers needed for civic functions. One example is the Volunteer Initiative Coordinator for Boulder County (303)-441-4889. Only one respondent told of work as a part-time flight instructor, but this reply suggests the wide range of possibilities available, based on your skills and interests. For the lover of team sports, observing and following university and professional sporting events offers pleasure (and sometimes pain).
Additional insight into post-retirement life is offered by the responses to the HSC survey described above. In general, the individuals responding to the survey retired when they did for a variety of common reasons. Since their health was good, some hoped to have a number of years during which they could participate in a selection of activities of their own choosing. A number felt that they had achieved an economic level that would allow them to be comfortable in retirement. At least one-third were tired of the various “hassles” in their academic careers. These reasons would seem to apply also to non-physicians in the academic community at CU.
Most retirees valued the personal freedom to make choices and the opportunity to control one’s time in a way not previously available that is provided by retirement. Decrease in stress often was a result. Only a few retirees were unable to find enough activities to fill their time. For some, downsides to retirement were the physical and mental changes associated with aging, and the impact of deaths of colleagues, friends and family. Of course, these events will occur whether or not someone is retired. Many retirees missed students, colleagues and, for physicians, patient contacts. Had the survey had more female respondents, they might have joined the woman who pointed out increased cooking and other household duties for herself and her husband.
Post-retirement activities included teaching, research consultations, greater involvement with children and grandchildren, increased physical activities, participation in community affairs such as reading in grade schools and Recording For The Blind, and service for religious groups and not-for-profit organizations.
Retirement did affect the relationship with one’s spouse, but uniformly in a very positive way. More activities were done together, both at home and while traveling. For some, there clearly was an adjustment period to the increased togetherness after being apart much of the day for many years.
2.3 The roles of the retired faculty associations
Groups of retired faculty and exempt professionals have organized associations (RFAs) for the purposes of promoting the rights and privileges of retirees and for providing opportunities for continuing interactions with colleagues and the university. The all-university CU Retired Faculty Association (CURFA) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2006. Membership is open to the qualified retirees from all campuses and the system administration. A complimentary one-year membership is offered to all new retirees.
In addition to its work with the system and campus administrations on behalf of retiree interests, CURFA organizes, in Boulder, four gatherings of members each academic year: two general business meetings, with a luncheon, and two Tea Time Talks featuring speakers on a wide spectrum of topics. It also publishes, twice each year, a newsletter that brings information about programs, plans and projects, especially useful for those who cannot get to the meetings. Examples of recent projects undertaken by CURFA are the creation of an endowed fund to support graduate students on all campuses and the preparation of this guide. The current agendas, meeting minutes, and the newsletter may be accessed at:
In addition to or in place of CURFA, retirees from some campuses have organized or are in the process of organizing local RFAs. The RFA at the Health Sciences Center has had a very active membership for over a decade. At UC Colorado Springs, an association of retired faculty and staff is being formed in 2005-2006. Retirees from the Downtown Denver campus are engaged in exploratory discussions to determine the feasibility of a local RFA.
For many retirees, particularly those who continue to live within reasonable proximity to their “home” campuses, these RFAs play many roles. One important one is providing an opportunity to meet again with former colleagues and to make new friends from within the CU retired academic community. Excellent talks are given at the meetings, both of specialized and of general interest. Timely information about benefits, University issues, and retirement questions are often featured. With the complimentary first year membership, and with modest annual dues and luncheon fees, most retirees consider the RFAs to be very worthwhile.