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UC emeriti activity equal to an 11th UC campus, survey finds

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A newly released study of UC emeriti confirmed that many faculty don’t stop working when they retire.

The survey, administered last fall by the Council of University of California Emeriti Associations (CUCEA), asked emeriti faculty about teaching, research and creative work they had performed during the three academic years, 2018-2021. Additional questions addressed professional and community service, mentoring, leadership roles, honors and awards, and the impact of COVID on emeriti activities.

The survey found that a large number of UC emeriti continue to publish, contribute to professional societies, teach, and serve UC and their communities. Their work and contributions are so substantial, when viewed in the aggregate, that they “amount to a virtual eleventh (UC) campus.”

Every three years, CUCEA surveys emeriti about their activities in retirement. A total of 2,087 emeriti completed the latest survey. The following are some of the highlights:

Scholarship, publication and presentations

Collectively, the emeriti who responded had written over 5,480 journal articles, 839 books and 1,848 book chapters. They had given over 7,583 scholarly presentations. In addition to traditional outlets, 669 respondents had used electronic or social media such as blogs, websites or YouTube as outlets for their work. One respondent reported writing an estimated 400 blog articles on energy and environment, science politics, and health.

Honors and recognition

UC emeriti received over 846 professional/career awards, including many lifetime achievement awards, plus over 150 community/civic awards. Some emeriti participated in the production of award-winning films and documentaries. A total of 237 reported receiving more than one honor.

Leadership in professional societies

Seventy-six percent of respondents (1,588) engaged in at least one activity in academic/professional societies, with 309 holding leadership positions and 619 serving on editorial boards. These activities bring recognition to UC, and illustrate that UC emeriti continue to be sought out by their professional peers for their expertise and leadership.


Emeriti taught over 780 UC undergraduate and 902 UC graduate courses during this period, and over 600 courses at nonUC campuses. When asked about the impact of the COVID pandemic, 422 responded that they had taught fewer courses, while only 63 said that their teaching had increased.


Emeriti continued to be involved in both formal and informal mentoring roles, with 475 (23 percent) serving as a PhD advisor and 620 serving on a PhD committee. Other mentoring activities included serving on master’s degree committees (255 emeriti), and as formal mentors for undergraduates (301 emeriti) or for junior faculty (249 emeriti). About 50 percent reported serving as mentors in informal roles. Yet, when asked about the impact of the COVID pandemic, over 20 percent (444/2,087) said that it had caused their mentoring activities to decrease, whereas only about 5 percent (112/2,087) said their mentoring had increased as a result of the pandemic.

The arts

There were 307 responses of emeriti engaging in the arts, with a total of over 2,100 projects. These included theatrical productions (174), music/dance (353), literary works (432), visual arts (466), exhibits/shows (281) and other creative work (459).

Service to university, community

Emeriti provided 1,240 committee and other service activities to UC, with some respondents serving on multiple committees. Almost half reported that they had performed service in their communities, and almost 900 said they had done pro bono public service work that made use of their expertise.

And lots more!

The final question asked respondents to add additional details if desired, and revealed a wealth of vocational and avocational activities. Examples included environmental activism, running a small winery, helping immigrants, preparing a brief for the Supreme Court, consulting with film and television studios, and for one respondent, biking his or her age in miles in one day, at age 85!

Read the complete report on CUCEA’s website.

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