The first question that comes to mind upon the announcement of IPFW’s new chancellor Tuesday had to do with the irony behind the fact that former Chancellor Michael Wartell, who turns 65 this year, is required to retire, according to Purdue University’s rules for top administrators. But IPFW has hired a replacement, Vicky L. Carwein, who is already 64.
Does that mean she’s only good for one year?
Apparently not. The mandatory age 65 retirement policy does not apply to a new administrator. Purdue’s retirement policy requires university executives and staff in high policy-making positions to retire by the end of the fiscal year in which they turn 65 if they have been employed in their current positions for two years immediately before retirement.
Carwein reportedly will be allowed to stay in her new position for seven or eight years.
You may recall that Wartell made a formal appeal last fall to the Purdue Board of Trustees to be allowed to stay on as IPFW chancellor for two more years. The request was made so he could see the completion of the strategic initiatives he has been leading. Wartell had the backing of many members of the local faculty and other groups in his quest to stay on at least past IPFW’s 50th-anniversary celebration during the 2014-15 school year.
We pointed out on this page that because of Purdue’s official “policy,” the entire burden was on Wartell to show why he should stay rather than on the university to say why he should go. And we declared it should not be that way. A Purdue spokesman said at the time there was little hope the school would waive the requirement because it’s mandatory. And that’s just what happened.
Waivers have been granted in the past, however. Purdue President Steve Beering stayed for three years after he turned 65. A waiver was also granted two years ago for Victor Lechtenberg, vice provost for engagement. If there are exceptions, the rule is not really mandatory.
Carwein comes to Fort Wayne from Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland, Wash. She is a native of Indiana, born in Gwynnville in Shelby County.
Wartell, a professor of chemistry, joined IPFW in 1993 as vice chancellor for academic affairs and became its eighth chancellor in 1994.
We remain puzzled by a policy of mandatory retirement in an age when most such policies are obsolete. Most were abolished in 1978 and 1986 by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In 1994 mandatory retirement was even ended for tenured university faculty members.
Wartell had the longest tenure of any IPFW chancellor. It just seems wrong that someone with such a list of accomplishments is put out to pasture because of a mandatory policy that really isn’t mandatory.