Trio of Former BYU Professors Discuss Retirement in Roundtable Colloquium

Three emeritus BYU professors examined topics including preparing for retirement, enjoying one’s career and finding balance in a roundtable colloquium on Thursday, October 10th.

The general consensus? Retirement will come for everyone, and finding satisfaction in one’s career while planning for life after is essential.

The discussion was led by former colleagues Jesse Crisler (English), Cinzia Noble (French & Italian), and Fred Williams (Spanish & Portuguese), all of whom finished their professional careers at BYU and retired within the last few years. Much of their conversation swayed between two factors one must consider when deciding to retire: feeling emotionally and financially prepared.

“It was mostly an emotional [decision],” said Noble. “But at the same time, I was prepared financially. I was looking at my finances and my ability to be independent and to do what I wanted to do with my life.”

“It sounds like we’re just financial mercenaries. No, I think we’re realists,” quipped Crisler.“And I think you have to be. In today’s world, you retire at 65 or 70, you may have 20-25 more years. And you need to be aware of what you’re going to do with that life [and] how you’re going to do it.”

Though their careers have formally ended, the three former academics would prefer to drop “former” from that title—they each expressed ways in which they’ve taken their researching and writing skills and applied them to other, more personal fields, even after retiring. Crisler, for example, has helped produce two 300-page volumes of letters, documents, and added notes that focus on the lives of his wife’s ancestors. Williams has dedicated himself to Church history research, and Noble has jumped into a number of civic, recreational, and otherwise-consuming pastimes—“I still need the intellectual stimulus to keep my mind going,” she said.

In addition to analyzing post-career living, the panel explained that maintaining a balance during one’s professional life between career, family church—and finding joy in the process—is essential to satisfaction at the time of retirement. Williams described these duties as “three 24-hour jobs,” pegging a relationship with God as the way to balance all three effectively.

“I could spend all my time in my profession, and I would lose my family and the Church,” he explained.“If I did everything just with the Church, I would lose my profession, etc, etc. So,it’s a juggling job. And in order to do it properly, you really have to speak with the Lord and say, ‘What should I be doing, now?’”

Much of the colloquium centered on this theme, and all three professors agreed that leading a well-rounded, proportionate life is critical to feeling satisfaction at the end of a career.

Further, Noble mentioned that in this search for equilibrium, finding time to enjoy oneself—rather, finding joy in the process—is irreplaceable.

“The best advice I can give to anybody is to have a well-rounded life,” she said. “And it’s hard. You have to be disciplined to do it. It’s not easy. But have fun with it!”