Thoughts on retirement

Hillel H. Ticktin 2004

"I did a lot of teaching, which I enjoyed, and took part in the life of the university, speaking at Senate, and various committees. That has all gone. But at the same time, I am continuing to write articles and books, give papers to conferences, speak on political subjects, and I remain editor of the journal Critique, which is a journal of socialist theory. I have a considerable backlog of writing to complete for various publishers. At the same time, the transition was gradual in that I had my room at the university until last October, when they removed it and I have continued to supervise students who have not yet completed their Ph.Ds. I have commented on events on the TV - once on Newsnight Scotland and a number of times on Radio Pacificia-KPFK - in Los Angeles.

At one point, I resisted the order to retire and contemplated taking the university to court, having discussed the matter with a lawyer but I decided that the stress involved was not worth it. I was actually very tired at the point of retirement and found that the absence of stress made a very big difference. When the cardiac specialist insisted that I had to lose weight and have more exercise, I was able to accept his words. I have lost about 30 pounds and I go to the gym very regularly. My blood pressure has gone down as has my cholesterol reading, so I am much healthier. Although technically I could have done all this when working, and some do, I simply did not have the time.

Not having a base in the university is a major problem and clearly I will miss the loss of my last students when this year is over. The other negative aspect is the considerable drop in income." (Email to Sue McPherson 15 July 2004)

In an article in THES (2002), Professor Ticktin comments further on the cost of keeping on older faculty members, suggesting that "in cost terms, the issue is not one way. While new lecturers usually have much lower salaries than those leaving at 65, the differential is negligible for lecturers who have been in employment over 10 years." He also provides an example of a much-valued older lecturer, "a cousin teaching in a university in Washington DC," he says, "who at 79 received a veteran's award for teaching in higher education. He, like many others over 65, is more vital, dynamic, innovative and full of ideas than many of those in their twenties or thirties. Any good lecturer of 65 will have the experience, knowledge and training to make them invaluable members of the department." He concludes, "In addition to these more practical arguments, there is also, of course, the real human tragedy of casting out people from their life's work, often at their peak. A rational and humane society would behave very differently - but we do not live in such a society and our administrators know it."


Hillel H. Ticktin. Why I think compulsory retirement should be abolished. THES 13 Sept. 2002. See full article

Olga Wojtas, Scottish Editor. Marxist era dawns in Glasgow. THES (Times Higher Education Supplement) p. News 8. 31 March 2000.

Professor Ticktin has also been interviewed about retirement by the Sunday Post (J. Boyle. They're fighting not to retire.17 Aug. 2001), and the Guardian (F. Abrams and D. Macleod. Today, in the bad old days: Lecturers suffer age discrimination. 24 Feb 2004).

Diversity in Retirement website (2004):

Sue McPherson website design and editor.