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About Faculty Retirement

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Planning for your retirement is a career-long endeavor with important personal, health and financial implications. This page outlines what retirement means for faculty at UNC, gives an overview the two retirement plan options and details emeritus status and post-retirement perks.



Retirement defined

Below is the definition of “retirement” as outlined by the North Carolina General Assembly:

“Retirement means the termination of employment and complete separation from active service with no intent or agreement, express or implied, to return to service. A retirement allowance under the provisions of this chapter may only be granted upon retirement of a member. In order for a member’s retirement benefit to become effective in any month, the member must render no service, including part-time, temporary, substitute, or contractor service, at any time during the six months* immediately following the effective date of retirement.”

* The six-month break mentioned above is applicable only to those in the TSERS retirement plan only. The six-month break also does not apply to those in the phased retirement program.

For Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS)

For members of the Teachers and State Employees Retirement System (TSERS), in order for a member’s retirement to become effective in any month, the member must render no service, including part-time, temporary, substitute, or contractor service, at any time during the six months immediately following the effective date of retirement.

This policy does not apply to participants in the University of North Carolina Phased Retirement Program.



UNC Retirement Plan Options


The UNC System employees offers a choice of two retirement plans:

  • Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) | A State-managed plan that pools your contributions with the contributions of others into investments that enable a monthly State retirement income.
  • Optional Retirement Program (ORP) | A private investment plan in which your retirement contributions are directed to a private investment firm whose advisors work with you to manage the State’s contributions in your best interest.

Within the first 30 days of your initial employment with the University, you must choose one of the above retirement plan options. Once selected, this choice cannot be changed.

For more information about:

Phased Retirement

The UNC Phased Retirement Program provides eligible, full-time tenured faculty members a way to transition to retirement through half-time (or equivalent) service. Eligible faculty members include those who meet certain age criteria and who are also eligible for retirement under TSERS or the ORP.

See the Phased Retirement webpage for more details.



Benefits Coverage in Retirement

Health benefits coverage is available to University retirees, and generally that coverage begins without a break if your retirement date immediately follows your last date of active employment. Eligibility for certain coverage depends upon your first date of hire with the University. To discuss your options and to ensure no gap in coverage as you retire, be sure to meet with the UNC Benefits Office well in advance of your retirement date.

For more information on coverage eligibility and timing, see the Benefits in Retirement webpage.



Emeritus Status

Members of the voting faculty—whether tenured, clinical, research or term—who take retirement and are no longer performing compensated services for the University, may continue to use the professorial titles and distinctions that they held immediately prior to retirement with the courtesy designation of “emeritus.”

Once the retirement is processed, the UNC Benefits Office will automatically update the campus directory to “emeritus” status, which will allow continued access to UNC email. Faculty who continue active research with external support may choose to delay their request for this automatic designation.

UNC retirees are also automatically added to the online UNC Directory as a retiree status:

  • Retired faculty with emeritus status are listed as “Emeritus, UNC-Chapel Hill.”
  • Non-emeriti faculty are designated as “Retiree UNC-Chapel Hill” with a reference to the previous home department.

UNC’s directory listings have now been standardized as indicated above; directory listings cannot be customized further.

To have the title “emeritus” updated to “emerita” or to delay the “emeritus” designation: Please email the UNC Benefits Office at with your name, PID and request.

Emeritus faculty may request University business cards to be printed to reflect their Emeritus title and current contact information. Such requests should be directed to the administrative office of the department in which they were last appointed. Departments are encouraged to satisfy such requests, but ultimately this is at each Chair’s discretion and subject to budget availability within the department.

For other continued amenities (like office space, laboratory facilities, library carrels and parking) as may relate to emeriti faculty, contact your appropriate department chair or dean.



Post-Retirement Perks & Access

The privileges extended to faculty retirees are provided in the Faculty Handbook. For additional continued amenities (like office space, laboratory facilities, library carrels, parking, etc.) as may relate to retired/emeriti faculty, contact your appropriate department chair or dean.

Faculty transitioning from an active employee status to a retiree status (e.g., no longer receiving a pay check directly from UNC-Chapel Hill), will automatically get the University affiliate status of “emeritus.” The benefits office will initiate the retiree being established as an affiliate/emeritus during the retirement process.

This affiliate/emeritus status will enable you to keep your Onyen, PID and your UNC email. Consequently, any University access (such as library privileges, IT Services and UNC-Chapel Hill directory listing) based on your PID and/or Onyen can remain active and authorized.

A card indicating this new status can be acquired from the One Card Office.

Affiliate/emeritus status has to be renewed every 10 years.

UNC retirees are automatically added to the online UNC Directory as a retiree status.

See above section on “Emeritus Status” for more information.

All retirees may continue their UNC-Chapel Hill email account. Access for 10 years is granted automatically and may be renewed for another 10 years by contacting the UNC Benefits Team at 919-962-3071 or for help prior to your 10-year renewal.

A member of the voting faculty who retires is still eligible to vote on matters of Faculty Governance. Faculty Code language governing these details can be found on the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Faculty Governance website. Retirees who do not continue on the faculty with a fixed-term appointment that calls for at least one-half time effort may vote in elections for retired faculty representatives to the Faculty Council.

To activate this eligibility, send a request with your name, date, faculty rank upon retirement, and unit from which you retired to:

    Office of Faculty Governance
    201B Henry Owl Building
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9170

For more information, call 919-962-2146.

Library access is tied to your PID and/or Onyen, so all retirees automatically have continued access to University Libraries for 10 years. Access may be renewed for another 10 years by contacting the UNC Benefits Office for help prior to your 10-year renewal.

Information on retiree parking permits is available from the UNC Department of Public Safety.

Retired Faculty/Staff Permits: The Departmental Parking Coordinator for the retiree’s last employing department can assist in confirming availability of and obtaining issuance of a retiree parking permit.

If you are an active member at the time of retirement, you are able to continue your membership into retirement.

For health and fitness options, including gym and pool facilities, available to retired faculty, contact:

  • Carolina Recreation at
  • UNC Wellness Centers at about available programs, including discount memberships in Meadowmont and Cary
  • UNC Faculty-Staff Recreation Association at for information on retiree discounts for both continuing and new members
Faculty seeking a secure place to preserve their records of professional work should consider the University Libraries Carolina Digital Repository.

The UNC Retired Faculty & Professionals Association (RFPA) was established in 1986 to provide meaningful opportunities for UNC’s retired faculty and professional staff/administrators to stay connected with the University community through representation and advocacy as well as through opportunities for intellectual engagement.

Detailed information about the RPFA’s mission, life-long learning programs, social activities, and membership application is available on the UNC-Chapel Hill Retired Faculty & Professionals Association website.

You can remain a member after retirement and retain the same privileges as active employees.