The role exit process of community college faculty : a study of faculty retirements
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Between 1965 and 1975, over 500 community colleges opened across the United States. Thirty-five years later, the founding faculty has begun to retire. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the experiences of veteran community college faculty as they left the profession in which they served for over two decades. The study examined the role exit experience of community college faculty, comparing the facultyís reported experiences to Ebaughís path diagram of the role exit process. Additionally, the study explored how these faculty members had separated from the cultures that they had helped to establish at their institutions. Finally, the researcher sought to identify ways the employer might help or hinder the retirement experience. Using Ebaughís role exit theory to frame the interview questions, this qualitative study examined how twenty-two college faculty members with an average tenure of twenty-two years of service in the Dallas County Community College District determined when to retire, how their decision affected their classroom performance, and how they adjusted to retirement. During the first stage of role exit, faculty members experienced feelings of tiredness and burnout, were displeased with organizational changes, and were interested in financial incentives offered for early retirement. Work behaviors were characterized by change, maintenance, disengagement, or celebration. In the second stage, more than half considered other types of income-generating as an alternative to teaching. For most, financial incentives characterized the turning point in the decision-making process, the third stage of role exit. After deciding to retire, most reported feeling relieved and believed their classroom performance was either unchanged or improved. In retirement, the participants reported enjoying travel and other interests, freed from the schedule and routine of teaching. An analysis of the organizational culture was critical to achieving a deeper understanding of these teachers who loved their students, their teaching, and the organizations they helped to build. Recommendations are made for managing organizational change during a period of significant employee turnover.