July 15th, 2015
Last week, I suggested that “assistant adjunct” might just be the worst job title in academia. It sounds like someone who DustBusts the crushed Bugles out of the regular adjunct’s 1990 Toyota Celica. But I realized I might have been wrong about that title when I came across this job ad for a “volunteer professor” at Southern Virginia University. Yep, professors who work for free. Well, not 100 percent free—they get “complimentary apartment-style housing and five meals a week.”
This ad has ripped across the digital universe of beleaguered Ph.D.s,
many of whom work close-to-voluntary wages as it is. Some are in
disbelief. (“Have we reached a new low in academic labor?” asks the University of Houston’s Dave Mazella.) Others are unimpressed. (“A benefit of volunteer teaching is to bring your own food to eat with other volunteers!” bemoans McGill’s Susan Rvachew.) Still others are resigned to it; one reader even told me she’d consider applying, just for the affiliation and library privileges.