Saturday, July 23, 2005
Jay A. Soled (Rutgers Business School)
- B.A. 1985, Haverford
- J.D. 1988, Michigan
- LL.M. (Taxation) 1989, NYU
TAXPROF. So states my license plate, proclaiming to the world that I am proud to be a tax professor. [Editor's Note: He's not kidding -- check out the picture below, previously blogged here.]
Not unexpectedly, my journey into the world of tax began where most tax professors begin their tax odyssey—law school. At Michigan, I had the pleasure of learning tax from three of the country’s leading tax scholars: Douglas Kahn, Richard Schmelback (who was visiting from Duke), and Lawrence Waggoner. Even today, I remain inspired by the energy each of them put into the classroom experience.
After Michigan, I went into private practice in the tax department at a large New Jersey law firm. I began my teaching career lecturing about estate planning for adult classes and conducting various financial planning seminars. Then my big break came: I heard that Rutgers Business School was looking for adjunct professors to help staff its new masters program in taxation. I jumped on this opportunity, teaching income taxation, corporate taxation, estate & gift taxation, partnership taxation, and federal tax procedure. Four years later, Rutgers Business School offered me a tenure-track position. I enjoyed the classroom experience so much that this decision was one of the easiest I ever made, and in 1995 I joined Rutgers faculty on a full-time basis.
In the classroom I have a certain methodology that seems to work for me and my students. First and foremost, by the second week of class, I try to know all my students’ names. At the beginning of every class I spend at least ten minutes (sometimes, a lot longer) reviewing what we covered in prior classes and where the material I intend to cover during the current lecture fits into the larger scope of what we’re trying to master during the course of the semester. Throughout each lecture, I constantly try to spur dialogue between and among my students by asking, Student B, for example, if he agrees with Student A’s response and then turning to Student C and seeing if she agrees with the two prior students’ responses. These energetic exchanges ensure (I think . . . I hope) that no one sleeps during my lectures.
In terms of publishing, I learned early in my academic career that the best way to write is to expound on topics that inspire me and in areas in which I think I can make a real contribution. I still love going to my desk every morning, turning on my computer, and thinking I can change the (tax) world for the better. During the last several years, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest and best tax scholars, including Charles Davenport, Joseph Dodge, Richard Schmelback, and Bruce Wolk.
In large part, my ability to teach and to make what are hopefully meaningful contributions to tax scholarship is due to the stability of my home. I have a wife and children (and a Chinese crested dog) who offer me immeasurable amounts of pleasure and attune me to those things that matter most in this world . . . and who are incredibly understanding and supportive when my love for the intricacies of tax laws consume time I should be spending with them.
Specially designed license plates are termed vanity plates, but it is healthy pride, not vanity, that inspired me to adorn my car with a plate announcing to all my fellow commuters that I am happily on my way to work each morning as a tax prof.
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