UCLA reverses course on paying adjuncts

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It turns out the University of California, Los Angeles, will actually pay all its adjuncts who teach.

The university on Monday afternoon issued a clarification of a job advertisement seeking an adjunct, without pay. And the university apologized.

“A recent job posting by UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry contained errors and we are sorry. We always offer compensation for formal classroom teaching. We will do better in the future and have taken down the posting, which we will make sure is correctly written and reposted. Our positions are open to all applicants,” read a statement by Bill Kisliuk, director of media relations at UCLA.

On Saturday he defended the job listing for an adjunct, with teaching responsibilities—and without pay.

“UCLA is committed to providing fair compensation to faculty across the institution,” his statement Saturday read. “Some positions may be without salary when individuals are compensated by other sources and a formal affiliation with UCLA is necessary. These positions are considered when an individual can realize other benefits from the appointment that advance their scholarship, such as the ability to apply for or maintain grants, mentor students and participate in research that can benefit society. These arrangements are common in academia and, in cases where formal classroom teaching is a component, compensation for these services is provided commensurate to experience and with an eye to equity within the unit.”

The original job listing said, “The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA seeks applications for an assistant adjunct professor on a without salary basis. Applicants must understand there will be no compensation for this position. Responsibilities will include: teaching according to the instructional needs of the department. Qualified candidates will have a Ph.D. in chemistry, biochemistry, or equivalent discipline and have significant experience and strong record in teaching chemistry or biochemistry at the college level.”

The posting attracted a torrent of criticism on social media and in an article in Inside Higher Ed. Many adjuncts and others on the tenure track said the job listing was disrespectful to the potential employees UCLA was seeking.

Helena Worthen was one of those who criticized the posting. She has held numerous adjunct positions in California and is the co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Education (Pluto Press).

“I guess they care what people think,” she said, of UCLA’s new statement. “It’s worth doing a little pushback now and then.”

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