TZVEE ZAHAVY had been teaching at University of Minnesota for 17 years. Last year, he received an offer from University of North Carolina at Charlotte for a prestigious endowed professorship: $85,000 a year to be the Isaac Swift distinguished professor of Judaic studies.
The offer was tempting. But he liked Minnesota, which offered him a 16 percent raise to $61,400. What to do?
He just said yes -- to both. He taught in Charlotte on Monday and Wednesday, hopped a plane to Minneapolis Wednesday night ("I worked hard to get the best fare," Dr. Zahavy told Minnesota Daily) and offered the same course at Minnesota on Thursday.
Neither campus noticed right away, although some in Charlotte thought something seemed a little odd. Some there wondered why they never met their new colleague's family. The UNC-Charlotte vice chancellor said, "We talked about getting together to play golf, but schedules never worked out."
The double-dipping was discovered when colleagues from both schools met at a religious studies conference in San Francisco. Both schools fired Dr. Zahavy, citing contract prohibitions against accepting outside work without notifying the university.
Jacob Neusner, who supervised Dr. Zahavy's doctoral research at Brown University and now teaches at University of South Florida at Tampa, told the Chicago Tribune that most professors who violate rules get no more than a scolding.
"Zahavy violated the most severe taboo of the academy: He showed the world what an easy job we have," said Dr. Neusner. "The sin, as distinct from the crime, was to call into question the pretense of his fellow professors that they can teach only six hours a week, because they are so busy doing research, serving on campus committees, etc., etc. I worked for 20 years at Brown where no one published anything. My colleagues could also have been teaching at Roger Williams University, the University of Massachusetts and half a dozen other places, too."