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The VCUarts adjunct workers' protests were a series of protests in late 2017 into early 2018 by adjunct professors employed by Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU full-time, tenured professors, and VCU students protesting over low pay, lack of benefits, and long working hours.

VCUarts adjunct workers' protests
Part of the 2018 teachers' strikes in the United States
DateDecember 4, 2017 (2017-12-04) – May 10, 2018 (2018-05-10)
Caused by
  • Long hours
  • Low pay
  • No health benefits
  • No tenure track
  • Increase in pay from $800 per credit hour to $2,000 per credit hour
Resulted in
  • Increase in pay from $800 per credit hour to $1,000 per credit hour
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
  • Shawn Brixey
200 adjuncts
15 supervisors



The VCU School of the Arts is the art school for Virginia Commonwealth University, a public-research university located in Richmond, Virginia.[1] The School of the Arts, branded as VCUarts, is a nationally recognized art program,[2][3] which employs around 400 professors on its academic staff. Approximately 202 of these teachers in VCUarts are adjunct professors,[4] who are contractual professors who are paid by credit hour and do not receive employee benefits.[5]

Most adjunct professors at VCU, including the School of the Arts are paid about $800 per credit hour they teach, and are limited to two or three classes they can teach per semester. This ultimately leaves them earning a potential annual salary of approximately $15,000, which is just above the federal poverty line.[6] According to a report from Style Weekly, most VCUarts adjuncts make about $10,000 per year, which ranks last of the Top-10 art schools from U.S. News and World Report.[4] In the fall of 2017, adjunct professors began organizing and formed a coalition known as "VCU Adjuncts for Fair Pay".[7]

In December 2017 and again in February 2018 the group protested the lack of pay, and protested in the propose raise in adjunct pay from $800 to $1,000 per credit hour, demanding that it is raised to $2,000 per credit hour. Such a raise would allow a full-time adjunct professor to earn close to $36,000 per year.[8][9] The group further attacked Michael Rao and his administration for having nearly $1 billion in endowment and used monies to purchase a night club off the VCU Campus.


VCU administrationEdit

VCU's Vice President for Finance and Budget Karol Kain Gray said in response that the low pay for adjunct faculty was becoming a moral issue.[10] The Board of Visitors approved a budget for the 2018-19 school year that increased adjunct pay from $800 per credit hour to $1,000 per credit hour, which was about $1,000 less than what the VCU Adjuncts Organizing For Fair Pay demanded.[10]

VCU studentsEdit

The reception from students, especially art students, was positive. Most of the people in the protests were reported to be students in the VCUarts program.[8]


  1. ^ "About VCU". Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "U.S. News and World Report".
  3. ^ Carrigan, Margaret (29 August 2017). "The 15 Top Art Schools in the United States". Artsy. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Baldwin, Brent (December 4, 2017). "VCU Adjunct Art Teachers Holding Campus Rally for Better Pay". Style Weekly. Landmark Media Enterprises. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  5. ^ Mattingly, Justin (December 8, 2017). "VCU adjunct arts professors, community protest low wages". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Berkshire Hathaway. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  6. ^ Ashworth, Madelyne (December 11, 2017). "VCU Arts Adjuncts Rally For Fair Pay Outside Cabell Library". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Wilder, Drew (February 28, 2018). "VCUarts teachers protest for higher pay". WWBT. Raycom Media. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Ahmad, Hiba. ""We're talking about someone's life": VCUarts adjuncts plan a day of action to demand equitable pay". The Commonwealth Times. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Pauly, Megan (December 8, 2017). "VCU Adjunct Arts Professors Rally For Higher Pay". WCVE-FM. Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Mattingly, Justin (May 11, 2018). "VCU raises tuition 6.4 percent for 2018-19". The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved May 13, 2018.

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