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Copyright (c) 2008 Nevada Law Journal
Nevada Law Journal

Article: Emeritus Lawsuits: Much Ado About Nothing?

Fall, 2008


9 Nev. L.J. 63


Robert M. Jarvis*


I. Introduction
It has been said that university politics are as vicious as they are because the stakes are so low. 1 Nowhere is this comment more apt than when it comes to lawsuits involving emeritus status. 2 The equivalent of window dressing, the topic hardly seems worth grousing about, much less suing over. 3 Nevertheless, such disputes are beginning to show up in court. 4 And given the rapid graying of the academy, 5 it seems certain more are on the way. Accordingly, this article takes a closer look at an issue that schools (and their lawyers) would do well to notice.

II. Background
In 1990, the Educational Resources Information Center ("ERIC") of the Clearinghouse on Higher Education, in cooperation with the Association for the Study of Higher Education ("ASHE"), published the first comprehensive report on emeritus status. 6 It was prompted by the coming end of compulsory retirement of tenured faculty, which occurred by congressional mandate on January 1, 1994. 7 The ERIC-ASHE authors were convinced this change would wreak havoc on the academy, and believed that expanded use of the emeritus rank could help ease the pain. 8 Of course, the expected crisis did not occur. 9

In 2000, Michael C. Petrowsky, an economics professor at Glendale Community College in Arizona, conducted his own survey. 10 Unlike the ERIC-ASHE researchers who had focused on senior colleges, Petrowsky limited himself to junior colleges. 11 Still, both studies came to the same conclusion: with rare ...
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