Faculty Emeriti

Some of Wellesley’s faculty emeriti gathered for lunch in the College Club in October 2013.

Around 75 living faculty emeriti have retired from regular teaching schedules at Wellesley College, while remaining a vital part of its community. The College and its students benefit from their past and current work, experience, advice, and involvement. Emeritus status allows retired faculty to individualize their professional work and match their involvement with the College to fit their stage in life.

The increased freedom of retirement, however, does require some adjustments. In recent years, the College has introduced several new programs and resources to assist faculty as they make the transition to emeritus status.

The Transition to Emeritus Status

A faculty member’s official retirement from the College means more than just the end of a regular paycheck and of the faculty member’s daily responsibilities to the institution. Meetings with colleagues also become less predictable as the relatively regimented schedule of the academic calendar gives way to months of open time that can be both liberating and challenging.

But for a faculty member, retirement certainly does not mean the end of an academic career. For many Wellesley faculty, their emeriti years can be the most productive years of their lives and permit the exploration of new scholarly and creative subfields. From the College’s point of view, emeritus status differs from plain old retirement because emeriti continue to represent the College in professional matters and to advise former students. To reflect the continuing engagement of the College in the lives of retired faculty, Wellesley emeritai retain many of the privileges of the active teaching faculty, including email, a dedicated MyWellesley portal, tech support, library and sports privileges, on-campus parking, eligibility to apply for library studies and for research/travel grants, reasonable use of departmental office support, and invitations to departmental functions.

In addition, as the College goes from being the provider of a regular income stream and health insurance coverage to playing an advisory role, emeriti faculty, with the College’s support, have formed a committee to help organize and strengthen the resources available to our retired colleagues.

Emeriti Steering Committee

The Emeriti Steering Committee came into being to provide ways of maintaining contact and continuing opportunities to discuss financial issues and strategies to cope with Medicare and Medigap insurance. As the committee’s mission has grown beyond these specific issues, it works with administrators at the College to be sure that emeriti concerns and opportunities continue to be a priority for Wellesley.

Other issues that the Committee has addressed include retirement communities, coping with long-term illnesses, planned giving/estate planning, living wills, letters of last instruction, and wellness. Papers written by emeriti faculty on these topics and others are available on the emeritus page of the MyWellesley portal. Additional suggestions for future papers are always welcome.

The Emeriti Steering Committee also provides a virtual community for Wellesley faculty emeriti through a Google Group; sends out an annual electronic newsletter; and holds two or three meetings a year in addition to the lunch sponsored by the Provost’s office. Members of the active Wellesley teaching faculty nearing or considering retirement are also welcome to join the Google Group or to come to any of the emeriti meetings or events. Please contact the current co-chairs of the Steering Committee (Elissa Koff: ekoff@wellesley.edu  and Mary Lefkowitz; mlefkowi@wellesley.edu).

"For thirty-five years I have been suffering from the exigencies of being a teacher, the pretension and the duty, namely, of meeting the mental needs and difficulties of other persons, needs that I couldn't possibly imagine and difficulties that I couldn't possibly understand; and now that I have shuffled off the professorial coil, the sense of freedom that comes to me is as surprising as it is exquisite. I wake up every morning with it: 'What! not to have to accommodate myself to this mass of alien and recalcitrant humanity, not to think under resistance, not to have to square myself with others at every step I make--hurrah, it is too good to be true! To be alone with truth and God! . . . .What a future! What a vision of ease!"

- William James