Bureaucratic rules force Stephen Hawking be “retired”

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University next year, but intends to continue his exploration of time and space.

Hawking, 66, is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by the great 18th century physicist Isaac Newton. The university said Friday that he would step down at the end of the academic year in September, but would continue working as Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

“We look forward to him continuing his academic work at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, playing a leading role in research in cosmology and gravitation,” said Professor Peter Haynes, who heads the department.

Hawking became a scientific celebrity through his theories on black holes and the nature of time, work that he carried on despite becoming paralyzed by motor neurone disease.

University policy is that officeholders must retire at the end of the academic year in which they become 67. Hawking will reach that milestone on Jan. 8.

The rules are more important than the people and circumstances they govern. Which needn’t be so. Even though the typical bureaucrat accepts them as cast in stone.

There are any number of variables which should be allowed for – including freedom of choice for the governed.

One thought on “Bureaucratic rules force Stephen Hawking be “retired”

  1. Cinaedh says:

    Apparently Mr. Hawking is retiring without actually going into retirement.

    Nor should he.

    I’m not aware of all the details of his new situation but this seems to be another fine example of appropriate, creative bureaucratese and not, I think, a typical bureaucratic acceptance of the rules as set in stone.

    To un-paraphrase a phrase, sometimes great minds differ, Eideard.

    ~ spoken by a former, atypical bureaucrat.

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