Friday, October 9, 2020

Retirement? Now?

I had not planned on retiring yet. Not this year. Not next. I taught at an urban college for 33 years. 35 seemed like a good number. Two more years to take that serious look at our "financial future" and "potential healthcare costs." Something my husband and I have never given much attention.

Besides, who in their right mind retires during an international pandemic? Who walks away from a secure tenured professorship in the midst of the worst national unrest since the mid-1800s? Who abandons financial security on the cusp of an election that will shape the future of our world as we know it?

Apparently, I do.

The District, consisting of three colleges including the one where I spent half my life, is in serious financial crisis. Rather than downsizing the top-heavy administration or reducing the inflated salaries of the chancellor, his ten vice chancellors and three presidents, they opted to reduce the tenured teaching staff. Inflated you ask? The chancellor makes $303K, thirty percent more than our state governor. Besides, reducing tenured faculty allows greater flexibility for future adjunct faculty layoffs.

But don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t forced to retire. None of us were (on my campus alone, nine tenured faculty have opted to leave). We were offered a tenure buyout (50% of 2020-2021 salary) with five weeks to make the decision and complete the retirement process. I cannot speak for the other eight, but I couldn’t teach for a year knowing that if I stayed home, I’d still receive half my salary. 

I will miss my students and all they taught me. I will miss having the opportunity to develop my online teaching skills this academic year with an eye toward building a hybrid English language program for immigrants and refugees when the campus eventually reopens. And I will miss participating in campus-wide efforts to create a truly antiracist environment.

But I am now retired. My head is spinning, and I am still trying to figure out how to structure my days. I have cycling and hiking, reading and writing, despite COVID. And best of all, by some inexplicable gift of synchronicity, my unexpected retirement coincides with the end of my daughter’s family leave and an offer she received to work dayshift. So, as she returns to Harborview ER, the joy of spending time with this little guy a few days each week will be all mine. How wonderful is that?!


Dana said...

Wow, Arlene. Big changes! Glad you have such handsome company. ��

Stay in touch! (Sure miss those green tables.)


mary rowen said...

Congratulations on 33 years of teaching, Arlene! Think of how many students you've helped, and who will never forget you. And now you get to spend time with your little guy.

Stay well and safe.


Betsy said...

Arleen, you’ll never regret the hours you get to spend with your grandson. When my daughter, Kelly, also an RN, gave birth to my Louie FIFTEEN years ago today, I told her she could count on me to be with him for her three twelve hour shifts each week. I quit a lucrative position in residential real estate and took on this kid. And all of the ones that came after from both daughters. Looking at Louie today, I marveled at his intellect and his pure handsome-ness. Except he has a third eye zit coming in.....teenagery can be sooo cruel. I look forward to your blogs that will chronicle the life of this lucky kid. You lucky gramma, you!
Love, Betsy

arleen said...

Thank you Dana, Mary, and Betsy - for reading, for commenting, for sharing.
! I am very excited about this new stage of life!

Nancy McBride said...

You saw your shift as an opportunity! GO!