5.3 Perks and Opportunities

In the following, retired faculty means all retired faculty whether they have emeritus/a status or not.  From the WorkDay/HR point of view (a) a retired faculty who does not have emeritus/a status is a retired academic, (b) a faculty member who is on the university payroll is regarded as an active faculty member, and (c) a retired faculty member who is not on the university payroll is regarded as an inactive faculty member. Note: just because WorkDay classifies you as “inactive” doesn’t mean you are!

1. Health


Cornell offers a wide variety of healthcare benefits and programs for retired faculty. There is no mandatory age for retirement for Cornell faculty. However, to receive certain benefits you must be at least age 55 and have ten years of credited service at the university. Details are available in Cornell’s Retirement & Beyond booklet (Contract College Version , Endowed College Version ).

Wellness Program

Cornell Wellness offers opportunities for physical fitness and social experiences, geared towards individuals who are age 50 and over, that are appropriate for every size, shape, and ability. These offerings are great for individuals who are first starting a fitness program, have gone through joint replacement, suffer from arthritis, experience lingering joint pain from injury, have physical limitations or disabilities, and those who want to improve their balance, fitness, overall wellbeing and more. Membership details. The annual fee is waived for emeritus/a faculty. You must have a Cornell ID card that identifies you as an  emeritus/a faculty member when you apply.

Cornell Health 

All retirees are eligible for pharmacy services, flu vaccination clinics, and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program through Cornell Health.

2. Transportation

Parking on Campus

Retired faculty are eligible for free O-permit or R-permit parking. Emeritus/a faculty who maintain a campus office may request a Central-tier parking permit. You must have a Cornell ID card that identifies you as a retired faculty member when you apply for these parking privileges. There are special parking options for retirees. General parking information can be found here. Note: all retirees who are actively volunteering on campus are eligible for free parking passes.

TCAT Bus Service

Cornell Employees (including temporary employees and affiliates) and retirees can use their CU photo ID card at the fare box when boarding TCAT buses to ride anywhere TCAT goes, any time TCAT runs. Faculty/staff spouse/partners with a CU ID card receive unlimited rides on TCAT night routes 90, 92, and 93. Details.

Campus-to-Campus Bus Service

Emeritus/a faculty are entitled to the same discounted rate as all non-retired faculty. Details.

3. Communication

Email and Zoom

There are several ways that retirees can continue to receive email using their Cornell netID. There is also access to Zoom that can be used for various campus events and video conferencing.

University Directory

A retired faculty member must have emeritus/a status in order to be listed in the online University Directory. Entries can be edited through WhoAmI.

4. Campus Life

Library Access

Emeritus Faculty are considered “active faculty” in regard to library access. This implies access to all electronic journals, ebooks, and just about all the databases resources available. Borrowing policies, loan periods and other services specifically for retirees available for retired faculty are described here. For general information, go to the Library Homepage.

Taking Courses

All retired faculty can enroll in up to six credits hours per semester at no charge. Just “sitting in” requires the approval of the instructor. Office of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions handles the registration paperwork. Cornell’s Adult University (CAU) offers unforgettable travel adventures, inspiring summer courses, and youth camps open to all.

Attending Events and Lectures

There are many interesting events on campus each week. Handy ways to keep informed include the Cornell Events Calendar, the Cornell Sun, the CAPE Newsletter, and the Cornell Chronicle. During the academic year, CAPE sponsors a lecture series with monthly talks.

Athletic Events

Emeritus/a faculty and retired faculty (with 25+ years of service) get two free tickets to all athletic events (except Men’s hockey). Admission requires a Cornell ID card that identifies you as an emeritus/a faculty member or as a retired faculty member with  25+ years of service. More information.

5. Voting Rights

University Level

Emeritus/a faculty can vote in elections for the Dean of Faculty and for candidates who are running for membership on the University Faculty Committee and the Nominations and Elections Committee.

CAPE retains membership in the University Faculty and has a single vote in its elections. The CAPE senator or designate is an appointed Executive Council member (or designate). Meetings of the Faculty Senate are open to all retired faculty.

College Meetings

The frequency of college meetings varies considerably from college to college as do voting rights. Consult with your college dean about specific details.

Department Meetings

A department meeting may be about curriculum, requirements, promotion, or hiring. Whether you can attend and vote may depend upon the topic. Consult with your department chair about specific details.

6. Teaching and Research

Office Space

An emeritus/a faculty member actively engaged in teaching or research may retain a private office at the discretion of the unit if space is available.

Emeritus/a faculty who remain engaged in unit activities but not to the extent of specific teaching or research responsibilities, may be provided shared or open plan office space if space is available within a unit. These shared offices are intended to allow an individual to maintain contact with the unit, discipline, and colleagues. Office space guidelines

Laboratory/Experimental Space

An emeritus/a faculty member who maintains an active research program may be provided laboratory space at the discretion of the unit if space is available.

An active research program is characterized by:

(a) sufficient external funding to support their research activities including the support of technical assistants, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students.

(b) continuing contributions to the department’s academic mission and vision;

(c) demonstrable contributions to the discipline through the propagation of the products of their research in relevant mediums (e.g. books, articles, chapters, patents, presentations, etc.)


Emeritus/a faculty are eligible for hire-back arrange-ments for specified periods of time in accordance with the needs of the department and college.

Emeritus status is a continuing appointment status, inactive until a “rehire” appointment is approved.

Because they involve a change in employment status, hire back arrangements require careful consultation with the Office of Human Resources. If you return to a benefits-eligible position at Cornell, Aetna will not permit you to remain enrolled in a retiree health plan. The Retiree Service Center will need to be informed – the health insurance you hold due to retiree status for yourself and your covered dependents will need to  be terminated, and you will be required to enroll in an active employer health plan. The active employer plan will be primary and Medicare secondary. If you are Medicare-eligible, you will need to review carefully if you want to continue your enrollment in Medicare Part B. You will need to discuss this with Social Security and be sure you understand Social Security’s rules for starting and stopping Medicare Part B enrollment since penalties exist if you make any mistakes, or act on assumptions. When you return to retirement, you and your covered dependents must return to the retiree health plans. If you and/or a dependent are over the age of 65, you will be re-enrolled in the Retiree 80/20 Plan. Or, if you and/or your dependents are under age 65 you will be enrolled in the Retirement Pre-Medicare Health Plan (RPHP). If you or your dependents stopped Medicare Part B enrollment, you’ll need to be sure to contact Social Security well in advance to re-enroll in Medicare Part B to avoid penalties.

External Funding

Participation as a Principal Investigator is conditional on the availability of resources as determined by the department chairperson, dean, and/or center director.   The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is responsible for the policy that governs principal investigator eligibility. Any salary paid to the faculty member in such a case must appear as an approved item in the agreement with the sponsor. Such post-retirement appointments are reviewed periodically and always when a new agreement with a sponsor is proposed.

Graduate Student Supervision

When graduate faculty members retire or resign from the University, they resign their membership on the graduate faculty. Graduate faculty members who retire or resign from the University automatically remain on special committees on which they were serving at the time of retirement/resignation for up to one year.

If the retired faculty member leaves the Ithaca or Geneva area and wishes to remain on a special committee beyond one year, the student must petition to have the former graduate faculty member appointed as co-chair or minor member.  If a faculty member resigned from the university and wishes to remain on a special committee beyond one year, the student must petition to have the former graduate faculty member appointed as a co-chair or minor member.

Graduate School Professor

By vote of their graduate fields, emeritus/a faculty may be granted the title Graduate Professor of (Field).  This designation, which can be used on external grant and contract applications, enables an individual to retain the rights of other graduate faculty in the field and to submit grant and contract applications that provide up to 50 percent of the individual’s pre-retirement salary. 

The General Committee of the Graduate School has approved this title for renewable five-year terms.  A Graduate School Professor may continue to serve either as chair or minor member of special committees on which he or she was serving at the time of retirement.  Otherwise, a Graduate School Professor may serve only as minor member or co-chair, and only if he or she resides in the Ithaca area and the committee includes a second or minor member in the student’s major field. Details.

Legal Defense and Indemnification

While retirement as an emeritus/a professor does not automatically confer coverage under the University’s Legal Defense and Indemnification Policy, emeritus/a professors may be so covered if they are performing services for the University at the prior written request of the dean of the college or director of the division upon approval by the Provost, even if they receive no remuneration for such services. Coverage would be with respect to claims that arise from authorized duties.  To qualify, an individual must also request such defense and/or indemnification and cooperate in the defense of any action or proceeding as provided in the University’s Legal Defense and Indemnification Policy. Formal policy.

Reimbursement for Professional Activity

Upon retirement, emeritus/a faculty members may receive up to $2,000 per year from their college for a period of up to five years for reimbursement of professional activities. Colleges may have specific rules about carrying forward unspent funds. There may also be a requirement about reporting how the funds were utilized.

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