Education

CUNY reduces Petraeus salary from $150,000 to $1

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Robby Soave Reporter

In an effort to quash a growing scandal over how much the City University of New York was willing to pay former CIA chief David Petraeus to teach a single class next fall, administrators announced Monday that Petraeus’ salary would be reduced from $150,000 to just $1.

Petraeus was perfectly willing to teach for less, and wanted to put the controversy behind him, his lawyer said.

“The general never was taking on this teaching assignment for the money,” said Robert Barnett, Petraeus’s lawyer, in a statement to The New York Times.

CUNY confirmed the change while maintaining that Petraeus’ expertise was worth much more than $1.

“We felt that we had the opportunity to bring somebody of extreme stature to be with our students and that whether the salary was $200,000 or $150,000 he was absolutely worth it,” said Dr. Ann Kirschner, dean of the Macauley Honors College at CUNY, in a statement.

The announcement came at a time when left-leaning professors, Republican legislators, teachers unions and journalists were all clamoring for CUNY to reverse course.

Petraeus’s original salary of $200,000 — which is 50 times greater than what the average first-time adjunct at CUNY makes — provoked widespread anger after Gawker published records of the salary negotiations in late June. The former general was only asked to teach for three hours a week, and would receive several perks, including administrative help from graduate students.

The Professional Staff Congress, a union representing faculty and staff at CUNY, recently condemned the deal between CUNY and Petraeus, and launched a petition calling for the university to break it off.

“It is obscene for a university that operates on a bare-bones budget to pay anyone $150,000 for a single course per semester,” said Barbara Bowen, president of PSC, in a statement.

A spokesperson for the American Association of University Professors also voiced opposition to the salary, calling it “outrageous.”

Kieran Lalor, a Republican New York assemblyman, and Corey Robin, a liberal political science professor at CUNY, have also criticized the university’s response to the controversy.

Gawker originally reported Petraeus’s salary as $200,000, but university officials speedily issued a correction, claiming the actual salary would only be $150,000, with a portion of that amount going to veterans’ organizations.

But Robin discovered evidence suggesting that CUNY may have changed the salary after the story broke in order to stave off the public’s negative reaction, prompting Lalor to demand answers about a possible cover-up.

“Celebrity hires like Petraeus may be fun at administration cocktail parties, they don’t fit with the mission of a public university,” wrote  Lalor in an op-ed for The New York Daily News.

This is not the first scandal to damage Petraeus’s credibility in the public eye. He resigned his post as CIA director last year after admitting to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

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