Process of Retirement


nce you have decided to retire, there are certain steps you need to take to complete your transition.

Working with your Department
You should notify the dean of your school, or the dean's designee, of your intention to retire and arrange how it will take place. For example, it may be possible to retire all at once, or over a period up to five years with a reduced workload (and salary). This is referred to as 'phasing out.' The general rules for faculty retirement are in the Faculty Handbook, listed under ‘termination.' That section also includes the rules for phasing out your retirement. 

Your discussion with the Dean, or Department Chair as appropriate, will also involve working out arrangements for any involvement you wish to continue with the Department after retirement, including your role in Department meetings and committees.

Arrangements with your Chair or Dean will also cover the use of office or laboratory space, future relations with your students, and post-retirement teaching. The general rules covering these discussions are also in the Faculty Handbook.

If you are choosing a phased retirement, your discussion with your dean, or department chair as appropriate, will include these elements of your involvement until retirement:

  • The date of your final retirement,
  • The number of years you will phase out (up to five years),
  • The level of activity (as a percentage of full time and thus the percentage of your regular salary you will receive and the contributions of the University to you retirement savings)
  • The activity that makes up that percentage
  • The number of classes you teach each year
  •  Supervision of students
  • The level of research, management of laboratories, etc,.
  • Administrative responsibilities
  • Service on committees
  • Whether sabbaticals or other leaves are to be included
  • Whether research funding will continue
  • Whether supplemental salary, for example summer salary, will continue

Post-retirement arrangements depend on the resources available in each school or department. For example, space is very scarce, so it is often difficult to arrange for an office. In any case, arrangements for all facilities will have to be worked out with the dean of your school or your department chair. These might include:

  • What courses you will teach, and when and how you will be paid
  • If you teach courses, which they will be and how you will be paid.
  • Whether you will have teaching assistants for those courses.
  • Whether you will be able to use Columbia as a base for applying for grants for on-going research, or, less-likely, new research.
  • What use of laboratory facilities, and under what conditions.
  • If and what research assistance you might have.
  • If and what office space you might have.
  • What role you will have in continuing supervision of your current students.
  • What role you might have in your Department.

More information about post-retirement privileges and involvement can be found in the Faculty Handbook, under Termination (scroll down to Rights and Privileges of Retired Faculty).

Handling your savings in your Retirement Plan
The investments in your Columbia University Retirement Plans are managed by: The Vanguard Group and TIAA-CREF. Both companies offer private one-on-one consultation. They will help you decide how you will manage your resources. You should contact your carrier directly for these arrangements. Specialists at Human Resources do not provide advice on investments but can help to make the connection.

Adapting Your Health Insurance to Retiree Status
Health coverage is important and the range of available insurance plans will change when you retire. Those over the age of 65 will have Medicare become their primary plan. For the rest of the coverage, the specialists in Columbia's Human Resources will help you enroll in health insurance of companies with whom the University has negotiated special arrangements, if you wish. The details of the plans available are on the HR website.

If you are in a Columbia University apartment, please refer to the Columbia housing policy for information on conditions under which you can stay in Columbia housing. Please read the Provost's March 2016 letter about our New Housing Mobility Program. Additionally, there are also other options available to you for the purchase of a private residence in New York .

The Office of Work/Life’s Housing Information and Referral Service can also assist you in searching for non-Columbia housing, for rent or purchase, anywhere in the New York City metro area. More information on this service, as well as links to other housing resources, are on the Housing and Relocation section of the Office of Work/Life website.

Retirement Incentive
A special program has been introduced called the Incentive Plan for Tenured Faculty Retirement. It is available to tenured faculty, 65 to 73, with ten years of full time service in participating schools. Other faculty members not eligible for this particular program may be able to negotiate a bonus package with the deans of their schools.


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