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 original ad has been deleted, but it's still up at Inside Higher Ed.) If you followed over social media, there was the seemingly explanatory tweet from the dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences, Miguel García-Garibay:
Dear Friends, Unfortunate wording in a recent add widely circulated in social media resulted in some concern among many members of our community. I apologize for that. I am sharing a statement that summarizes the facts.
UCLA is committed to providing fair compensation to faculty across the institution. We recognize the language in this particular advertisement could have benefitted from additional context and we are committed to doing better in the future. In the spirit of providing additional context arrangements such as these 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. Some positions may be without salary when individuals are compensated by other sources and a formal affiliation with UCL [sic] is necessary, which may be needed to apply for or maintain a grant or conduct research.
Finally, there is this statement from a UCLA spokesperson in Michael Hiltzik's column in the Los Angeles Times:
A UCLA spokesman says the original posting “contained errors” and a new one, “correctly written,” will be posted. The spokesman, Bill Kisliuk, assured me that at UCLA, “We always offer compensation for classroom teaching.”
Kisliuk also rejected online speculation that the job posting was aimed at some specific person — some even conjectured that it might have been tailored for a scientist fleeing Ukraine but bringing along his or her compensation from another source: “Our positions are open to all applicants.”
So what is going on here? For the record, I initially believed, and still do, that this was some kind of pro forma job posting for either someone deciding to take a visiting position at UCLA Chemistry with outside funding from a different source. That is officially rejected by Mr. Kisliuk. It seems that either Dean García-Garibay's inferences ('compensated by other sources', etc) do not match the situation, or Mr. Kisliuk's assertion that the search is open to all applicants is not true. (To add fat to the fire, UC Berkeley biology professor Michael Eisen states that "at UCs such appointments are explicitly exempt from search requirements.")
It seems to me there are a couple of possibilities here:
- There is some kind of innocent explanation here - UCLA chemistry is bringing in some kind of visiting scholar, and this was a pro forma posting, and the spokesperson and Professor Eisen are wrong, or
- There is some kind of nefarious doing here, and the UCLA union representatives who have been very angry about this are correct, and this is a union-busting move of some kind, or
- There is some other option we haven't considered yet?