By KEVIN ELZE
BYU has been granted an exception to the newly adopted policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that says retired individuals are not eligible to return to church employment as paid employees.
According to a memo sent out to BYU deans, the exemption is that “under certain circumstances faculty who have retired may be contracted on a year-to-year basis for specific time periods (not to exceed three academic years) to perform part-time work. The policy and its exception apply to staff and administration, as well as faculty.
“The church believed that it was a wise policy for the church as a whole that people not retire and then come back to work,” said Jim Gordon, Associate Vice President for faculty relations.
According to BYU officials, the church-wide policy was adopted around November and BYU officials became aware of it shortly thereafter. BYU then went to the board of trustees in February to ask for the exception.
“Our policy is more flexible because as a university we are in a special situation. The board gave us an limited exemption to the church-wide policy,” Gordon said.
In order to approve a retired faculty for employment each department must show there is a need for their services, it is a benefit to the university to have this person work, and there is no other person who can fill the position at the time. It is always on a case-by-case basis.
“There are people who have special expertise and are able to perform special services. You can’t just go out and find somebody who teaches a particular area of expertise on the spur of the moment in the Provo and Orem area. It takes time. This exception allows some flexibility,” Gordon said.
The appointments that will be accepted will be to “perform part-time University teaching, research, or administrative assignments.”
Because the policy is new, the three-year limitation will not apply to the 1996-97 academic year. However, after 1996-97 any contracts that would exceed the three-year limitation will need approval by the Commissioner of Education, Elder Henry B. Eyring.
On April 11, Gordon sent out a memorandum to all of the deans explaining the retirement policy with a list of the retired faculty in each of their colleges. The deans were asked to contact each of these individuals and inform them of the policy.
Gordon said that he foresees the hiring of retired faculty as “continuing to occur depending on the university’s needs and special circumstances.”
Because BYU-Hawaii is considered a part of BYU, the policy applies to that institution as well. If Ricks College was to receive a similar exception to the policy, they would have to ask for one.
A few years ago a study was conducted that said 35 percent of BYU’s faculty will be retiring within a decade. BYU is currently going through a period where many of those people are retiring.
Because of a federal law passed in 1993 there is no mandatory retirement age. Gordon said that some faculty may keep working past the age of 65 without retiring.
“There is no mandatory retirement age at BYU, but once they retire this policy comes into affect,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, there are really sensitive feelings on the part of the faculty, and the University wants to treat them fairly.