On August 29, 2015, my department, Human Development and Family Studies, organized a retirement reception for me. Attending were current faculty, staff, students, as well as many of my former doctoral and postdoctoral students. It was a wonderful and happy day. Here are the comments I made.
Ted Williams was the best hitter in the modern baseball era other than Babe Ruth.
He retired after the 1960 season. That year he had a .316 batting average and hit 29 home runs. Those were not his best numbers. After all, he batted an amazing .406 in 1941. But his 1960 numbers still placed him among elite players.
Williams could have continued to play longer, but he chose to go out when he was still very much on his game.
I’m a gerontologist, and I’ve thought a lot about retirement over the years. It’s important to know when it is time to retire, whether in sports, academia or other walks of life.
It’s also important for those of us who hold relatively scarce positions in our
society—such as tenured professors—to make places for young people.
One of the things I am proudest of is the new faculty we have hired in my department in recent years. They are smarter and better trained than we ever were, and will lead the department in new and important directions.
I have heard a lot of people say that they won’t retire. They say they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. That’s not right. We need to pass the baton.
Besides, I’ll know what to do. Judy retired a few years ago and has been a great role model to show me that there are lots of things to do. While I won’t ever cook or bake as well as she does, someone has to be the food taster.
I’ve been at Penn State for 29 years. These have been the best, most productive years of my career, because of the great colleagues here in HDFS, the terrific staff, and the wonderful students I have had over the years. Thank you all for coming and for your good wishes.