Erin Fischesser, News Editor

Miami University retirees may soon miss out on a valued benefit.

The Strategic Priorities Task Force has recommended the retire/rehire program be evaluated and possibly changed in order to reach its proposed $43 million budget reduction. The program, which allows tenured professors who retire from Miami after at least 30 years to return for one semester per year for three years, has been seen as a guaranteed benefit by most of Miami’s faculty for some time.

“It’s pretty much considered a right,” economics professor Rich Hart said.

Hart retired from Miami and is now beginning his first year of teaching under the retire/rehire program.

According to Hart, retirees receive approximately 47 percent of their last year’s salary per semester during the rehire period. The benefit is provided to teachers at Miami along with their benefits from the State Teacher’s Retirement System, which Ohio teachers pay into in lieu of social security.

Hart believes the program’s continuation is in Miami’s best interest.

“It benefits Miami primarily because the untenured faculty at Miami are teaching so little because Miami has become increasingly concerned about research and less concerned about education and teaching students,” Hart said.

Hart said the retire/rehire program is financially beneficial for the university as well because new tenure track faculty do not teach as many classes.

Hart said students benefit from the retire/rehire program because of the commitment of long-term faculty who are now retired.

“(They) still care passionately about teaching,” Hart said.

In addition, Hart said the proposed changes and cuts being made by Miami could lead to larger class sizes.

“Miami is intent on letting class sizes get even larger and (as a result) the quality of education decreases,” Hart said.

Interim Provost John Skillings, however, believes the retire/rehire program is beneficial to faculty on a personal level because it provides a smooth transition into retirement. However, he said it can have good and bad effects on the university as a whole.

“It is a very positive thing,” Skillings said. “Many of our senior faculty are our best teachers and having them to teach at the university for three more years is valuable.”

Skillings recognizes, however, that the institution faces tough decisions and cuts in the near future. The choice of hiring faculty who are receiving a pension and benefits on top of the rehire paycheck or hiring new faculty who receive one paycheck will be heavily considered in these decisions.

“It’s a hard choice for the institution to make,” Skillings said. “As we make difficult choices we’re going to have to decide what is our priority in this regard. It’s a philosophical thing and it’s also a practical thing.”

Skillings said one choice would be to make the retire/rehire process more need-based rather than a guarantee. He said the program could also be phased out over time if it was going to be cut.

“If there is a change in the policy, I believe the campus would have advance notice to make plans accordingly,” Skillings said.

No matter what the decision, Skillings said the quality of a Miami education will not be harmed.

“I don’t think it will affect the focus on undergraduate education at all,” Skillings said.