In light of the Strategic Priorities Task Force’s recent recommendation for the elimination of the university’s retire/rehire policy to the Miami University Board of Trustees, the University Senate’s Fiscal Priorities and Budget Planning Committee began working to modify the current policy. Their revisions, which were finalized at the March 21 Senate meeting, are part of an attempt to persuade the Board not to eliminate the policy completely.
According to Section 9.1 of the Miami University Policy and Information Manual, the current “Retirement with Rehiring Contracts Policy” allows for tenured faculty members to apply for reemployment during the first three academic years following their retirement. Reemployed retirants’ work cannot exceed one semester per academic year, and retirants are compensated a “proportional fraction of the salary the person received on the last contract before retirement.”
According to the Fiscal Priorities Committee’s proposal, the revisions to the policy include removing the policy as entitlement to tenured faculty, instead recommending that applicants for rehire be considered on an “as needed” basis. Instead of capping retirees’ work at one semester, a new limit was set at 12 credit hours per academic year. Rehired retirees would also be required to annually reapply for rehire. Additionally, “compensation would be in proportion to the teaching load, unlike now,” reads the proposal.
Retiree’s will be compensated at 3 percent of their ending salary per credit hour. Finally, upon a suggestion from the Council of Academic Deans, the Senate agreed upon also placing a limit on the number of years a rehired professor can work at five consecutive years after retirement.
These revisions are a part of a “Sense of the Senate Resolution” that will be passed on to President Hodge as an advisory statement, according to Bill Houk, physics professor and university senator.
“Ultimately, the Trustees are in charge,” said interim provost John Skillings. “At the end of the day, we advise the President.”
The issue of continuing the retire/rehire policy has come in conjunction with the recent budget cuts underway.
“For next year, the salary commitment for faculty on early retirement exceeds $850,000,” Skillings said. “This (retire/rehire program) is a costly program and it is a priority for us to continue.”
The prospect of the elimination of the policy also raises concerns about the potential and pressing need to hire more faculty if retired professors can no longer be rehired. According to Houk, the calculations that could determine which is more economical are extremely close. While the average starting salary of a new faculty member is the same as half of the average salary of a retired faculty member, there are myriad fringe benefits for the new faculty member that would have to be factored in.
“These calculations are very tricky to figure out, but I think they almost balance out,” Houk said.
As the adverse effects of the economic crisis continue to affect Ohio’s funding for schools and the State Teachers Retirement System, faculty members are left to reconsider retirement in an environment of uncertainty.
If the Board of Trustees votes in favor of the revised policy, these changes would go into effect July 1, 2012.