Jim Kalas - Personal Retirement Story
In 2000 I knew that it was time to retire from 32 years of University administration (26 of those years with SUNY), but had no firm idea to what I was retiring. I had some projects in mind -there was some translation I wanted to do, and there were unfinished tasks in connection with community boards on which I served - but within a couple of years I had completed that work.
My wife and I like to travel and had done so before I retired. We have continued to travel as we had done earlier, but it turned out we weren't interested in doubling or tripling our time away from home.
I have looked around and seen friends spending their retirement caring for grandchildren, while my friends' children worked. I see that these friends are tired, but fulfilled. I also see that their children live nearby unlike my children and grandchildren who are far too widely dispersed for that to work for my wife and me.
Then I made what, for me, was a discovery. I visited my son who was at that time teaching at Texas A&M. I knew I would be glad to see my son in his work environment, but thought the environment itself would be totally alien to me. I was wrong; to my surprise, I felt at home even at Texas A&M! The university, any university, was too much part of me, and I of it, ever to "retire" from it.
Shortly after that experience an opportunity came along for me to work with the consortium of colleges and universities in the Albany areas known as the Hudson Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities. I jumped at the chance to work closely with higher education again. Midway through my 3 year stint with the Association my good friend Neal Robbins invited me to join him in the Department of Education Administration and Policy studies at U. Albany as an adjunct. I agreed. Now I am a member of the Department as a "Service Professor," no longer doing administrative work for the Association and in my 8th year of teaching. It's great. I like my students and colleagues. I have office space and a computer, and free access to university facilities. I get paid, but the pay is so low I might as well be a volunteer. It's better than tenure, though, because I can always say "no" to any request of me without fear of losing personal financial standing.
I plan to continue this as long as I can. I remind my colleagues from time to time that it is their responsibility to tell me when I am too senile to continue teaching. When the time comes to really "retire," I still don't know to what I will retire. Maybe I won't care.