Teaching Jobs Saved By Plan

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In an attempt to avoid firing tenured faculty members while coping with severe budget cuts, the Michigan State University College of Education is using a variety of innovative plans that will keep some tenured teachers on the payroll and give others time and money to find new jobs.

The plan is being introduced at a time when sharp drops in enrollment and financial retrenchment are forcing education-school administrators across the country to come to terms with the sensitive issue of removing tenured professors.

Forced to close or cut eight programs in response to the university trustees' order to shave 14 percent from this year's budget, the college has participated in a university-wide plan consisting of early retirements, "buy-outs," and appointments shorter than the usual full year.

Among the specific options offered to the 18 tenured teachers slated for dismissal at Michigan State:

Early retirement has been made possible by the removal of age and years-of-service requirements.

A tenured professor may retire immediately with two full years of pay plus one year's worth of benefits.

Or the professor may agree to resign after the 1981-82 school year and receive one and a half years' salary as separation pay.

A tenured teacher may also avoid dismissal by voluntarily changing his 12-month appointment to a 10-month contract--with a proportionate cut in salary.

Judith E. Lanier, dean of the college of education, says that so far, 10 tenured faculty members have accepted one form or another of the ''buy-out" plans.

Five others kept their jobs by transferring into different departments within the university.

Ms. Lanier asserts that the program is working well. "Morale is pretty good; the members of the faculty are approaching this crisis in good faith," she says. "I am impressed with their attitude."

One participant in the program is Kent L. Gustafson, formerly a tenured professor at Michigan State. Although he was not in a department marked for termination under the budget cuts, Mr. Gustafson resigned his position this summer under the two-year salary buy-out plan and is now teaching at the University of Georgia.

"The buy-out system is equitable," says Mr. Gustafson, "but from a purely financial point of view, it's not a heck of a lot of money."

The average annual salary for a full professor at Michigan State is $30,639.

Vol. 01, Issue 04

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