Publication Date

November 3, 2023

Perspectives Section

Letters to the Editor

AHA Topic

Career Paths, Professional Life

To the Editor:

L.Renato Grigoli’s “The 2023 AHA Academic Jobs Report” (September 2023) provides much useful data, but it leaves out a vital aspect of the current reality for those of us on the academic job market: the dismal state of adjunct/non-tenure-track pay rates and benefits compared to the cost of living.

For example, I was hired for two adjunct teaching positions that offered $4,500 and $6,000 per class, respectively, with each requiring a 3-3 teaching load of the 75+ person US History since 1865 survey course. These positions were not benefits eligible, meaning I could not participate in the university’s health care or 401(k) retirement plan. Even the slightly higher-paying position would still put me nearly $10,000 below the $44,000 minimum annual income required to survive in Massachusetts (as calculated by the MIT Living Wage Project).

We need to recognize that not only is the number of positions important, but so is the compensation that those positions are (or, in most cases, are not) offering. The opportunities available in our profession are continually decreasing; it seems clear that even these opportunities are increasingly available only to those with enough personal wealth to support themselves in spite of—rather than because of—their PhD.

The AHA Responds

Salaries and compensation are indeed of vital importance to understanding the dynamics of academic hiring. Unfortunately, a lack of the necessary robust datasets makes it difficult to reach any definitive conclusions at this time.

Jeanna L. Kinnebrew
Boston, Massachusetts

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