By Thulasi Srikanthan
Ryerson may follow the University of Toronto’s lead to eliminate mandatory retirement for teachers, says the Ontario Confederation of Universities Faculty Association.
OCUFA President Michael Doucet said it’s only a matter of time before Ryerson scraps rules that force instructors to leave their jobs at age 65.
“The decision by U of T might push (Ryerson administration) to see the writing is on the wall,” predicted Doucet, who also teaches geographic analysis at Ryerson. In the coming weeks, Ontario may introduce legislation banning mandatory retirement at age 65 for professors and librarians.
U of T has already reached a tentative agreement to end mandatory retirement for its staff. Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse said he would anticipate a decline in hiring if instructors can stay past 65.
“You don’t need to know anything about mathematics to understand that if you have less people leaving at 65, there will be less incoming positions,” he said.
Bob Rae’s report on post-secondary education cautioned universities will need to hire more than 10,000 professors in the next decade and Doucet is concerned about Ryerson’s ability to meet that demand. Ontario has the worst faculty-student ratio in the country.
Ryerson Faculty Association President David Checkland sees benefits and drawbacks to the proposed legislation. “There is clearly something discriminatory about telling people to retire at a certain age,” he said, adding universities aren’t keen to have old faculty stay because they’re expensive.
However, he said a person’s quality of life might suffer if they work too long. Still, though mandatory retirement might soon be scrapped, John Cook–who has taught at Ryerson for 35 years–has no plans to stay.
Instead, the 60-year-old chair of Ryerson’s English department plans to leave in two to three years “to make space available for the hiring of new faculty.” Cook is one of more than 350 professors at the university who will have to retire in the next 10 years, and he believes faculties become paralyzed if there isn’t a turnaround of staff.
In the meantime, Cook looks forward to retiring. “I’m going to get on my bicycle and meander,” he said.
“I’m going to stumble through Japan again. I’m going to explore the pleasures of the purposeless life.”