Zoe Berg

French professor Ruth Koizim has taught at Yale for decades as an instructional faculty member — shouldering many of the same duties as her tenured peers, including teaching, committee work and advising. But as a senior lecturer, Koizim lacks a key perk: phased retirement.

Under this system, eligible tenured faculty nearing retirement can cut their workload in half during the three years prior to their departure. For the first two of these years of the phased retirement, this decreased labor will not correspond to a decrease in pay. For departments, this system is a way to train replacements, and for outgoing faculty, it is a means of easing into a life outside the University.

But when Koizim retires in Spring 2022, she will be fully cleaved from Yale’s payroll, and her status will change from a full-time member of the instructional faculty to a retiree. The University currently does not have policy in place to extend the phased retirement option to instructional faculty like Koizim, despite a 2017 report from an FAS Senate committee calling attention to the issue.

In an interview with the News, Koizim said denying her the opportunity to train a replacement and impart her experience and knowledge about teaching could be a loss for Yale.

“I’m not just going to pack up my office and walk out the door. I will always love this place and I will [always] love my department,” she told the News. “[But] if it would be useful for my department to have me partially here to aid in the transition I would want to do that.”

Koizim said that this is just one of the many reasons why she feels the University has not responded proactively enough to instructional faculty’s requests, which range from revising parental leave policies to increasing compensation. And even though FAS Senate’s Committee on Instructional Faculty and Academic Support Programs listed 28 recommendations in its latest report, the FAS administration has only addressed five, members of that group said.

At the Senate’s December meeting, Koizim’s committee announced that they would focus on deliverables. According to the meeting minutes, committee chair Sybil Alexandrov told his colleagues that he thinks that instituting phased retirement is within reach.

When asked about phased retirement for instructional faculty members, FAS Dean of Faculty Affairs John Mangan responded with a list of 12 ways in which the FAS has already improved instructional faculty experiences.

“In recent years, we have actively fostered a spirit of appreciation, inclusion, and recognition for instructional faculty in the FAS,” he wrote in an email.

Among several initiatives, he pointed to written tributes for long-serving teachers, professional development opportunities, a streamlined reappointment review process, expanded lunch subsidies and a conference travel assistance program. When asked further about concrete steps toward phased retirement, Mangan did not reply to further requests for comment.

Alexandrov, who also teaches Spanish, told the News that instructional faculty have a greater teaching load than tenure-track faculty coupled with “significantly lower” compensation. Further, instructional faculty have fewer perks in other ways, she said. Parental leave is less generous, travel funding is limited and competitive and, unlike tenured professors, who hold their posts indefinitely, instructional faculty must regularly renew a contract to continue teaching at the University.

Among the other improvements Alexandrov is pushing for are increased compensation — “always a priority,” she said — and equitable parental leave options. While ladder faculty are granted one semester of leave under the policy, instructional faculty are only allowed take eight weeks off, she added.

“Aside from the obvious discrepancy, it is disruptive to students to have instructors, whose classes may meet five days a week, leave (or return) half-way through the semester,” she wrote.

Alexandrov said that while she is “very pleased” that the FAS has responded to some of her team’s recommendations, there are others that still need to be addressed.

“I would like to remain hopeful because the recommendations made are reasonable,” she wrote. “Phased retirement is also a matter I believe should be considered.”

The FAS Senate was established in 2015.

Matt Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu

The headline for this article has been updated to correct a typo.