The word “emeritus” may have its roots in a meaning of “out of” or “from” merit. It is a title often given to retired faculty at universities. Some universities reserve this title only for those of extraordinary merit. Increasingly, almost all retired faculty are provided such a title. We have a strong set of emeritus professors at Georgetown.
Early in my tenure as the provost at Georgetown, I met with the Association of Main Campus Retired Faculty. I learned much from that encounter, not the least of which was a set of stories of earlier days at Georgetown. It was a great part of my orientation to campus.
I also learned that Georgetown could do better at supporting the group and honoring their service to the institution.
My feelings toward emeriti, in general, were shaped throughout my career. The current retired faculty are significant contributors to the Georgetown we now enjoy. They devoted decades of their lives to building the reputation of the school. Their scholarship was key to the reputation of individual departments. Their contributions to the formation of generations of students produced the commitment to the university among our alumni. We owe them. We owe them respect and thanks for that service, but also we owe them, in ways possible within budget constraints, a continued link with the university.
So, working with the group, we’re reiterating and strengthening a set of benefits to the emeriti. These include continued use of a faculty identification card, continued Georgetown email access, full library privileges, the funding of small research grants to facilitate completion of work, computer help-desk access, and free parking for official meetings on campus. The Office of the Provost will support the meetings of the association and help arrange meeting rooms.
We will continue to support the emeriti work in the Georgetown University Learning Community, which offers courses taught by emeriti for the neighborhood and the larger public. This is a key contribution to strengthening Georgetown ties with the larger DC community. It does us proud.
In addition we’ll attempt to find hoteling-based office space for emeriti to share if they need to work on campus (this is perhaps the hardest task we’re attempting, given tight space constraints on the Hilltop). We’ll ask departments to create a single mailbox for emeriti who wish to receive mail at their department office.
Further, I’ll meet with the group on a set of scheduled meetings to discover new ways to integrate the emeriti into the life of the campus in ways that build a stronger Georgetown.
Many Georgetown emeritus faculty continue their scholarship deep into retirement; many have energy to contribute more to Georgetown in ways we’d all value. Creating policies to support this merits attention.