Do Big Bucks for High Profile Guest Profs Petray Public Education?

July 12, 2013, 9:43 am

Petraeus_Khawam Kelley-award

David Petraeus and gal pal Paula Broadwell

In a word? Yes.

We at Tenured Radical would like to urge greater public scrutiny of the CUNY policies that permitted the appointment of General David Petraeus as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at well over 30 times the average adjunct salary. For teaching one seminar each semester in 2013-14, the retired military dude is expected to receive somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. The best part is all he has to do is show up: he has three teaching assistants who will put the course together and grade all fifteen students.

That’s one TA for every five students. I know this number is correct ’cause I checked it on my calculator.

For starters, I would like to hear from some of our mayoral candidates, as well as Eliot Spitzer, who announced his candidacy for comptroller this week and is already leading the pack. In 2009, when the Luv Guv taught a political science course at CUNY, he was paid $4500.  Administrators claimed this was top of the scale, but in fact it was more than ten dollars above scale. Spitzer responded by donating the salary back to CUNY’s scholarship fund.  And where is Fox News when you really need them? Too busy harassing former anti-war activists to investigate potential Republican presidential candidates trying to make everyone forget how his secret girl friend got those classified documents?

CUNY initially responded by saying that Petraeus’s salary would be paid for by “private funding.” In an earlier version of this post I took that to mean a private donor. Apparently I am not the only person to have made this mistake, but the truth could be worse.  Corey Robin pointed me to one of his posts where he untangles the rhetorical sleights of hand that obscure the source of the “unearmarked” funds that will be laundered paid out by CUNY’s Research Foundation.

Can a university still be in an ongoing period of austerity and have “unearmarked” funds available? Better yet, why do universities think no one knows that when they proudly put Petraeus on their faculty roster they are actively complicit in buffing a career derailed — not by black sites, torture, and civilian casualties — but by a secret affair with a hagiographer?

I can’t even count the levels of yuck.

You can go to the links below to get all the information on this latest compensation outrage (as one wag pointed out on Twitter, all CUNY would have to do to make this right is appoint Petraeus as a football coach, and then everyone would agree that he was a bargain.)

Don’t expect Senator Charles Grassley to be going after this one any time soon: he has his hands too full trying to get NYU to hand over documents on their executive compensation practices.

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