Instructors who give up tenure as part of early retirement or severance plans must pay Social Security taxes on the payments they receive, a divided federal appeals court ruled last week. Although the court’s ruling came in a case involving public school teachers, it conflicts with another appeals court’s 2001 decision in a case involving professors at North Dakota State University, which may lead the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the issue nationally.
Philip Pergola arrived on the Massasoit Community College campus as a bright-eyed 22-year-old, eager to teach business and constitutional law. July 1 would have marked the tenured professor’s 39th year at the college.
To date, hundreds of students have taken his courses and many faculty members have formed strong relationships with the likable professor. In August 2002, Charles Wall, president of the college, asked him to become the chief financial officer of the institution, to help untangle a few financial messes. He gladly accepted, hoping to strengthen the college he loves.
Mary Burgan, former general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, is not happy about the trends she sees with regard to faculty rights. Traditional governance models are being replaced with strict hierarchies, and too many faculty members have too little influence in crucial decisions, she writes, in What Ever Happened to the Faculty? Drift and Decision in Higher Education, just published by Johns Hopkins University Press.