TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WSJ: The Ultimate Power Title -- Adjunct Professor

Wall Street Journal, The Ultimate Power Hobby: Bankers, Lawyers, Executives Jockey to Teach a University Class, Play Professor:

Robert S. Cohen, a divorce attorney who has represented Christie Brinkley and James Gandolfini, says his favorite trophy isn't his country home or his soon-to-be-renovated Manhattan apartment. It's the title "professor."

Every Monday in the fall semester, Mr. Cohen rides the 2 pm Amtrak Acela train from New York City to Philadelphia, where he is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Earlier this week, a driver shuttled him the few blocks to Gittis Hall on campus, where he grabbed coffee in the faculty lounge, chit-chatted with students and stopped by the dean's office.

At 4:30, with the jacket of his pinstriped suit off and a microphone clipped to his tie, Mr. Cohen welcomed the 33 students to his class, Anatomy of a Divorce. By 6:30, class had adjourned, and he headed to the White Dog Cafe, where he treated five students to what he called "a tablecloth dinner." He hopped into a waiting town car at 9 and was back in Manhattan by 11.

In a time of inconspicuous consumption, an adjunct-professorship at a prestigious university is a coveted token of success among finance, law and media professionals. ...

The University of Pennsylvania pays Mr. Cohen about $5,000 a semester, but he donates more than that to the law school each year. His travel expenses and the dinner tab set him back $1,000 a week—"but it's less than my hourly rate," he says. ...

A university has much to gain from well-chosen professional adjuncts, including cachet and credibility. And adjuncts also form a potential donor pool.

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I teach an individual income tax class to college undergraduates. As luck would have it, the topic for next week is ordinary and necessary business expenses. Which of the expenses this fellow incurs every week is he entitled to deduct?

Posted by: eli bortman | Oct 1, 2010 6:02:10 AM

That's funny, I teach at night but I drive my own car, is there something I'm doing wrong?

Posted by: mike livingston | Oct 1, 2010 6:46:21 AM

When I saw "power title" and "adjunct professor" together in the headline I almost had to laugh. Sure, a few superstar adjuncts from business and industry lend prestige to a school. But this ignores the fact that the majority of university teaching is increasingly being done neither by millionaire donors nor tenured tweed jacket full timers but instead by regular adjuncts. I direct your attention to today's "above the fold" article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website for a look at just how little respect real adjuncts get:

Posted by: lawyer | Oct 1, 2010 8:19:36 AM