Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/515

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511
A UNIVERSITY PENSION

upon the colleges themselves. Where the foundation has enabled a college to retire in a dignified and just way teachers who had worn out their usefulness and where it has enabled colleges to substitute in their place younger men of fresh and alert spirit, the result has been to quicken and vivify the whole intellectual life of the college. Here again is a result whose benefit no one can question.

On the other hand, there is another side which can not be lost sight of. The presence of the altruistic spirit amongst college teachers is strong, but perhaps no stronger than amongst other men. As in every calling a large number of those in the profession of the teacher are drawn to it by bread and butter motives. The offering of a pension can not fail in some cases to minister to the selfish side of human nature. There will always be certain individuals who, when they find themselves in possession of a given advantage, whether that take the form of a benefit in the hand or one to be acquired in the future, will trade upon the possession or the prospect of that benefit. There will be under such an arrangement a certain number of teachers who will count the years and the days until the coming of the minimum age which enables them to resign the duties which they now perform in a perfunctory and routine way. There are still other men facing responsibilities and difficulties in administrative places or in teaching who would gladly use the way of the pension to escape from the perplexities and responsibilities of their positions. Every president considers his own case an exceptional one. He is prepared to prove to the foundation, even when he is turned out of office by the trustees for alleged incompetence, that he is entitled to a pension on the ground of extraordinarily meritorious service. Every teacher, too, thinks his own situation is unique and that he is entitled to consideration of a special sort by reason of his particular and unusual service. All this arises out of the qualities of human nature. On the whole, the number of those whose selfishness is touched by such a benefit is small, as small perhaps as one ought to expect, and in the long run much of this will disappear as the teachers themselves become accustomed to a system of pensions. In time teachers will realize that it is to their own interest and in the direction of their own happiness to continue work as long as they are really fit and able to serve. The late William T. Harris always insisted that a college professor was at his best between the ages of sixty-five and seventy-five, and he strongly urged the trustees of the Carnegie Foundation at the inception of the trust not to make the minimum retiring age lower than seventy. Mr. Harris's argument was a partial one, but it had truth in it. There are many teachers who are at their ripest and at their best between sixty-five and seventy-five and such men ought, of course, to remain in their profession. In the long run it will be found that they will do so, although for a few years the