Director of Research

Emeritus Scientists: Procedure and Guidelines for Outside Work

The Institution's Appointment and Promotions Handbook makes the following statement regarding Emeritus status at WHOI: "Members of the Scientific Staff are eligible for Emeritus status upon retirement. Emeritus status continues the individual's association with the Institution's community of scholars, but implies no other commitment." However some limited support and facilities (space) may be provided according to the policy for Emeritus Support: The Institution has determined that support should be provided for Scientist and Oceanographer Emeriti who wish to continue doing research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. These funds allow retired scientists and technical staff to continue using our facilities and providing "mentoring" of younger scientists, engineers and technicians, and sharing their scientific and technical knowledge.

Emeritus Scientists who are affiliated with an organization other than WHOI and receive a salary from that organization do not precisely fit the "norm." This situation raises some issues of conflict of interest and fairness in distribution of overhead costs. The following are some of the issues with procedures and guidelines for dealing with them.

Use of Facilities and Space

Under typical circumstances Scientist Emeriti continue their association with WHOI by continuing as "citizens" of the department. They should provide mentoring to junior staff or students, and may continue to do research, submit articles for publication, or even submit proposals. Space is finite, however, and the following guidelines apply to all Emeriti.

  1. Space is granted to any Emeritus based on the availability of space in the department and on the interactions of the individual Emeritus in the activities of the department.
  2. The department should review the activities of the Emeritus and the space situation within the department at least every 3 years.
The work that the Scientist Emeritus does as part of the Department is still for the benefit of WHOI and as such the use of the office and/or lab space can continue as part of the WHOI indirect costs. However, if the Emeritus is being paid by another organization, his/her work is for the benefit of that organization. The use of WHOI facilities cannot be covered by the WHOI overhead pool. The other organization must provide funds to WHOI to cover the use of any facilities.
  1. The Controller's office will determine the facilities rate for the space that will be used by each Emeritus that is affiliated with other organizations. The calculation is as follows: 
    The total of (Room Square Feet x Weight Factor) for each space = Total Weighted Space
    Total Weighted Space x Hourly Facilities Rate = Hourly Space Charge.
    The square footage and weight factor for each building and room is on the Facilities web site under Building Plans. The Hourly Facilities Rate is calculated by dividing the Annual Facilities Rate by 1824 (working hours in a year). The annual facilities rate is effective each January 1 and is based on expected costs of items like light and heat.
  2. Actual Facilities Charges for the space used by the Emeritus will be determined by the actual hours of salary support provided each month to the Emeritus by the other organization. The Emeritus must provide WHOI with written documentation regarding how much time is being supported by the other organization. The invoice from the other organization for payment of costs incurred on a WHOI subcontract should indicate the time supported by the other organization. If there is no subcontract, another document will have to be generated and submitted monthly.
  3. WHOI will submit an invoice to the other organization for the facilities costs on a monthly basis.
  4. If there is a subcontract from WHOI to the other organization for support of the Emeritus, the facilities charges will be included in that subcontract. If the salary support for the Emeritus is being funded directly by the funding agency to the other organization, the proposal to the funding agency should include a line item for "Charges for the use of WHOI Facilities." 

Submitting Proposals

  1. WHOI will not submit proposals to external funding agencies for another organization, even if the PI is a Scientist Emeritus.
  2. WHOI will submit subcontract proposals for support of WHOI personnel and facilities to the other organization for inclusion in their proposal to external funding agencies. The WHOI PI on the subcontract can be the most senior person that will be supported on the subcontract.
  3. Retired PIs who no longer contribute to the overhead pool should not expect to receive any support from department Administrative Professionals in the preparation of proposals, subcontracts, publications, etc. unless they have provided specific funding in a grant, contract or subcontract to cover that support.

Grants and Contracts at WHOI at the time of Retirement

When any scientist leaves WHOI to associate with another institution or organization, s/he generally transfers the existing grants and contracts to the new place of employment. The same process can and should be followed when retiring and affiliating with another organization to receive pay.

  1. Several months prior to retirement, the PI should make arrangements with the external funding agency to transfer all grants and contracts to the new organization. These transactions are not difficult, but are time consuming. In order to insure that there is no break in funding for the support personnel, this should be done prior to retirement.
  2. WHOI will provide the facilities rate to the new organization for inclusion in their revised budget to the funding agency.
  3. If the PI wishes to continue support for WHOI personnel, WHOI will submit a subcontract proposal to that organization with a work statement and budget for that support. 
There may be situations where there are other WHOI Co-PIs on existing grants and contracts. Though the above method is preferred, it may be more reasonable to leave the grant or contract at WHOI and request permission to write a subcontract to the new organization that provides just the funds that will be used by the Emeritus for salary support and the facilities charges. This also should be done prior to the retirement date to insure timely agency approval and transfer of the funds to the new organization.

Personnel who have been Financially Supported by the PI prior to Retirement

Whenever a Principal Investigator leaves WHOI, those employees, students, or postdocs who have worked on the PI´s grants and contracts will inevitably face the situation of no longer having salary support. As their supervisor/advisor, the PI is responsible for an orderly transition for these individuals. Issues relating to students and Postdocs must be discussed in advance with the department´s Education Coordinator and the Education Office. Depending on the specific circumstances of the PI´s future activities several possibilities may exist for the affected employees:

  1. The PI may have sufficient funds in hand which will remain at WHOI to provide some time for the support personnel and will continue in the future to provide the necessary funds through subcontracts from the new organization.
  2. Working with the affected support personnel and the Department Administrator, the PI will assist them in identifying other PIs who will provide their support and supervision.
  3. The PI, working with the Department Administrator and Human Resources, will give the support personnel notice of the date of termination of funding/employment so that the proper notice and separation actions can take place in an orderly fashion. 
Whatever options are available, this is a priority and the PI must take this responsibility seriously and handle it in a timely manner. All the PI´s support personnel must have as much advance information as possible about what will happen and when. The PI must make the department office and HR fully aware of his/her plans regarding separation and what arrangements can be made for the support personnel. The department and HR can help the affected personnel in the search for new support at WHOI or employment elsewhere. It is a very stressful time for anyone who is facing a loss of support. Giving them as much information as early as possible is essential.

Any questions regarding these guidelines should be addressed to the office of the Director of Research.

Approved by:
Dr. Robert B. Gagosian, Director and President
February 25, 2002

Last updated: April 22, 2013