Professors emeriti at Bowdoin have drastically different lifestyles from your typical retirees. They are neither golf fanatics nor residents of retirement communities. Instead, they lead symposiums, contribute to academic journals, and spend time researching in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.
Professors in good standing receive the title "emeritus" upon retirement. Emeriti professors have the liberty and flexibility to continue pursuing their academic interests, as well as to enjoy retirement. Many live in Brunswick, just minutes away from Bowdoin's campus.
"The pattern of what folks do varies a lot," said Professor of Psychology Emeritus Al Fuchs. "If you're tied to laboratory work, unless you collaborate with a colleague, you're probably not going to do that. If your discipline lies in reading, you can continue to do that. Or you can say, been there, done that, now I'm doing something else."
Many professors emeriti spend several hours each day reading, writing and researching in their offices on 82 Federal Street.
Professor of Religion and Humanities Emeritus Burke Long said, "I come onto campus virtually everyday. I work best in my office—never worked well at home because there are too many temptations—too many cups of tea, too many things to repair."
Fuchs started his career at Bowdoin as a Professor of Psychology in 1962. He was also the Dean of the Faculty, now known as the Dean of Academic Affairs, from 1975 to 1992.
A professor emeritus since 1998, Fuchs said that he is content with his current lifestyle. However, he noted its shift from when he was an associate professor.
"There's a lot of humdrum that you don't miss," said Fuchs. "But as a retiree, you miss the students and you don't see them mature in a discipline. You don't miss grading papers and doing certain aspects of the profession."
Long added, "The biggest change is that I am no longer a part of the committee or campus rumors."
Long also commented that his schedule changed completely upon retirement in 2002.
"I've taken up a new career. I am continuing to do research and am publishing essays in my field."
For professors emeriti, retirement is a time to explore old passions as well as discover new ones.
"I reclaimed my musical career that I abandoned a few years ago," Long said. "I'm studying voice again and am performing in two choruses: the Oratorial Chorale of mid-coast Maine and Vox Nova."
According to Long, Vox Nova, or "New Voice" is directed by Shannon Chase, a former member of the music faculty. Many of the members of Vox Nova are affiliated with the College and they rehearse and perform on campus.
"I also picked up the art of writing short fiction. I'm publishing short stories," Long said. "I am moving gradually from studying religion to pursuing the arts."
Though professors emeriti many not be as involved with Bowdoin as they were as full-time professors, Fuchs noted that he is still very connected to the College.
"The College knows who [the professors emeriti] are. The College does not ignore you. They are basically saying, 'We respect what you do, we hope you hang around and are available on alumni weekends.'"
Professor of Physics Emeritus Guy Emery said, "I interact with the physics faculty. I sort of keep track with what's going on with the physics students."
Long agreed that his ties with Bowdoin are still strong.
"There are no formal expectations that the College has of me, no official salary-based responsibilities," he said. "But, I myself feel that as long as we occupy space on campus we should be producing something that brings notice to the College."
Fuchs described that being Professor Emeritus offers many opportunities, to which he has the liberty to say no to.
"The amount of time I spend in my office depends on what I've committed to," Fuchs said. "I am currently writing a chapter for a handbook, and I go to committee meetings to supervise the law profession. I pay attention to issues related to qualifications of the bar. Mostly, I'm dealing with issues of character and fitness."
Fuchs's work dispels many of the stereotypes that people have of retirement and the elderly.
"I came back to teach a course on adult development and aging. I had students go interview their grandparents and older people in the community. One has a lot of beliefs of old age and many of them are false."
Fuchs describes his life as lively, busy and entirely different from when he was teaching.
"Folks run, swim, participate in senior games and keep up with all sorts of things. We're not a bunch of people drooling in oatmeal," Fuchs said. "I'm happy with what I'm doing," Fuchs reflected. "My wife and I still have time to travel and spend time with the grandkids."
Long emphasized how rewarding and fulfilling his life as a professor was, but also expressed his satisfaction with retired life.
"I loved teaching and I enjoyed the classroom, but I must say it was pleasant to give that up and move on to new things and just develop a whole new set of activities that give me joy," he said.