Associate Professor at Dominican University
By now, there’s a good chance that you know which ad I’m talking about. If not: The posting, for an adjunct-lecturer slot at Santa Clara University, required applicants to have published at least 25 books, through top presses, on highly specific but varied topics; worked as a journalist; hosted radio and TV productions; founded startups; cultivated connections at Oxford University and throughout the Bay Area; and, perhaps most importantly, had some experience as a teacher.
The ad reminded me of Hugh Gallagher’s famous satirical college application essay or Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials. Who has done all these things and now wants to be an adjunct professor?
It turns out that the answer, as covered in Vitae by Sydni Dunn, is Michael S. Malone. Malone is indeed a successful writer and journalist who enjoys teaching a class for the English department at Santa Clara. The university wanted to keep him on, so it posted a job ad tailored to his biography.
Neither Malone nor the university did anything wrong. But there is a moral here—about the absurdities in our adjunct labor market and, more generally, in higher education.