Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/506

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502
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF A UNIVERSITY PENSION SYSTEM
By Dr. HENRY S. PRITCHETT

THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF TEACHING

WHILE a college or university can not divest itself of a humane duty towards an old or worn-out teacher, it does not follow that every college is under an obligation to establish at once a system of retiring allowances. The obligation for a service performed is one thing; the question of taking on general obligations for services to be performed is quite another. It is fair, however, to say that it is the clear duty of a college at our present stage of civilization to reckon among its obligations those to old and worn-out servants and to deal with these obligations in full view of all other duties. Hitherto colleges have in the main admitted no such duty. The educational corporation has generally acknowledged no obligation to the individual when his services were no longer wanted. This attitude is no longer possible. No corporation under our social and industrial order can brush aside this humane duty. Every such organization must, as best it may, do its duty both to the public and to the individual. For this reason, therefore, no college is justified in turning out without some provision an old and faithful teacher who has long served it. It still does not follow that such an institution is in a position to establish a permanent and definite system of pensions.

The questions, what form of pension system is wise and just, and what effect the establishment of a pension system will have upon the professional and moral qualities of teachers, and what effect the establishment of such a pension system will have upon the college itself, still remain to be answered. These questions are part of a much larger one with which society is to-day engaged. Is it for the interest of society as well as for the interest of the individual that some definite provision for old age and disability be made? If so, under what conditions should such pensions be conferred and from what source shall they be provided? Should the beneficiary bear at least a part of the burden of a pension or should it be paid by the agency, whether it be corporate or governmental, which the pensioner serves? These are questions with which all modern organizations—state, business corporation or social organization—are confronted. The college or university, as one of these organizations, must also seek to answer these questions in its own way and to the extent of its responsibility.

The literature which has appeared in recent years concerning pen-