Hawking retires

It was announced today that Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, will officially retire at year’s end but will continue as an Emeritus. Apparently Cambridge has a policy that stipulates a person retire by the end of the academic year in which they turn 67. The Lucasian Professorship dates to 1663 and has been held by the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, Joseph Larmor, and Paul Dirac.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about forced retirements. My current institution does not have a mandatory retirement age. Indeed, one of my colleagues in sociology has been teaching here full-time for over 50 years (and is not an emeritus yet) while others have since retired and become emeriti (or, in one case, been denied that honor). I believe Hawking’s position is primarily research-based so the forced retirement seems perhaps a tad unnecessary, though I do not know what duties come with the title. Certainly, for teaching faculty there could come a point when a retirement might become a necessity, but who’s to say when? Do you base it on student evaluations, peer evaluations, Tarot cards? Not an easy question to answer, that’s for sure.

In any case, kudos to Prof. Hawking on his exemplary career. I know nothing about the man personally having never met him so I can’t comment, but his science speaks for itself.


2 Responses to “Hawking retires”

  1. Hmmm… I got the impression that age limits were now illegal within the UK because of antidiscrimination legislation.

  2. quantummoxie Says:

    Huh. Well, being in the UK you’d be in a position to know. But the age limit is what was reported over here. Interesting, though. Unless Cambridge and Oxford were “grandfathered” in on that rule (do they still have their own MPs?).

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