When Kathy Cawsey, an associate professor of English at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, heard about the $400,000 salary offered by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, in its search for a new president, it struck her as high enough to provide salaries for four people at her rank, with decent raises, according to an article in the Calgary Herald. So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, she rounded up three academic friends, and together they applied for the job.   

In their joint cover letter, the quartet noted that they “would be able to do a better job than any one person could do” because collectively they offer varied skills in journalism, statistics, and business—not to mention literature professor Renee Ward’s “research on monstrosity and hybridity,” which, they write, prepares her well “to interact effectively with various levels of government.” 

“Between us,” the letter continues, quoting the job announcement, “we possess the ‘credibility, vision and intellectual depth’ to interact with all levels of society and all of the stakeholders of the University of Alberta.” What’s more, “for many of us one-fourth of your proposed minimum salary would double or triple our current wage.” Word spread, and now the team has competition: According to the Herald, 13 other four-person teams have applied.

The board of trustees is not amused, reports The Gateway, the University of Alberta’s student newspaper. Still, imagine the possibilities. If Cawsey and her cohorts would be a bargain in the job, just think how much more talent the university could buy if it went for teams of postdocs or adjuncts—perhaps 10 of the former or up to 16 or so of the latter.

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.

10.1126/science.caredit.a1400156