The job listing for an Adjunct Assistant Professor was very clear: “The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA is seeking applications for an Adjunct Assistant Professor on a no-salary basis. Applicants should understand that there will be no compensation for this position.
The listing went on to describe what the hiree could expect: “Responsibilities will include: teaching according to the educational needs of the department. Qualified applicants will have a Ph.D. in chemistry, biochemistry or an equivalent discipline and have significant experience and a strong record in teaching chemistry or biochemistry at the college level. The University of California, Los Angeles and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are interested in applicants who are committed to the highest standards of scholarship and professional activity, and to the development of a climate campus that promotes equality and diversity.
Applicants were required to submit a CV, cover letter, teaching statement (and optional research statement), and three to five letters of recommendation.
The reaction to the job description, published on March 4, was intense. Angry emails flooded the inbox of the UCLA chemistry department.
On Twitter, Milan Shrestha, a senior lecturer at Arizona State University, wrote: “Then there is this #UCLA job posting for an Adjunct Adjunct Professor with no pay or compensation. Does this become normal or just an outlier? Surely absurd expectations, but it shows the ugly side of academia thriving in exploitation and hypocrisy.
Riley F. Bernard, assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, wrote: “@UCLA. Are you serious? An ‘unpaid adjunct assistant professor’ but needing a Phd, 3-5 letters of rec + a package that one prepares for a TT job? ! Shame on you for taking advantage of people. Doctoral students are already sufficiently underpaid.
And of course, several people have compared the unpaid position of an academic to a doctorate. the $4 million salary the university pays its head men’s basketball coach, Mick Cronin.
Helena Worthen, co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precariousness: Strategies for Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Education (Pluto Press), said UCLA’s action was part of a worrying trend.
“This is just the most recent example of selling prestige in higher education in exchange for people’s work,” Worthen said. “Gig hiring without pay can put ‘adjunct adjunct professor at UCLA’ on their business card and resume, and that’s the payoff. Until now, unpaid adjunct assignments have mostly been reserved for universities. prestigious private ones… but now it also appears in public higher education.
Bill Kisliuk, director of media relations at UCLA, said the university’s action was not outside the norm in higher education.
“UCLA is committed to providing fair compensation to faculty at the institution. Some positions may be unpaid where individuals are compensated from other sources and formal affiliation with UCLA is required,” he said. “These positions are considered where an individual may derive other benefits from the appointment that advance their fellowship, such as the ability to apply for or maintain grants, mentor students, and engage in research that may benefit society. These arrangements are common in academia and, where formal classroom instruction is a component, compensation for these services is provided based on experience and with an eye toward equity within the unit. .
Before knowing UCLA’s response, Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore College, posted on Facebook.
“I see a lot of people coming up with explanations that try to rationalize this: it’s for an internal candidate who has a funding stream elsewhere, it’s an attempt to help a candidate coming from industry get the experience teaching that will make it competitive, it’s another insider plan, it’s union busting,” he wrote. “Even the ‘innocent’ explanations are disgusting because no matter what they are, everything this is a *lie*.
“It’s corrupting: it legitimizes the concept of asking for a doctorate. working for free, he scoffs at the idea that a nationally advertised search is intended to seek nationally qualified candidates. That it comes from a state that is supposed to have a liberal policy and respect for public higher education, in a city that is liberal, in a community of supposedly liberal administrators and professors, should say roughly how much is worth all these political alignments when it comes to exploiting labor and corrupting the rules.