by Jay Weiser, also posted July 2, 2013, www.cunyufs.org,
CUNY adjuncts typically earn less than $3000 a course while teaching half of the university’s courses (and face continuing peril on their health insurance), yet Gawker reports that outgoing Chancellor Matt Goldstein decided to spend $200,000 (later reduced to $150,000) to bring former General/CIA-head/Paula Broadwell-running-buddy David Petraeus to CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College.
Having taught a semester of Macaulay’s interdisciplinary seminar on New York City, I can report that the students are more in need of basic instruction in research, writing and speaking than they are of celebrity pontifications on “developments that could position the United States…to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown.” (Perhaps Petraeus, a Cornwall-on-Hudson native, could teach Macaulay students how to lead themselves to the Hudson River, which many have difficulty locating.) While the General is undoubtedly expert on national security, what made Chancellor Goldstein think him qualified to lead seminars on “energy, advanced manufacturing and life sciences . . . and the policies . . . needed to capitalize on the opportunities each area presents”?
CUNY administrators may hope that the reflected glow of General Petraeus, who was also successfully courted by the higher-end University of Southern California, will add to their prestige. But the top-tier wannabe game is rarely worth the candle, particularly when the Central Administration, reportedly having been unable to raise private funds, wants to pay the General from Research Foundation of CUNY funds. None of this is a criticism of Petraeus, who after a lifetime of modestly paid public service can probably command over $40,000 for a single lecture through the Washington Speakers Bureau. From his perspective, $150,000 must seem absurdly cheap for two three-credit courses over a year, even if graduate students do most of the grunt work.
CUNY, while claiming to have the tenure standards of a research institution, provides little faculty research support compared to the schools it apes with the Petraeus hire, making the raid on RF-CUNY’s limited funds even more distressing. In a university struggling to find the resources for its core mission of educating the children of the working class and poor, the Petraeus hire sends the wrong signal about CUNY’s priorities.Jay Weiser is an Associate Professor of Law & Real Estate at the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, CUNY and a member of the City University Faculty Senate Executive Committee. Want to respond to this post? Send your comments to the Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions of 250-750 words offering a tightly-written, well-supported viewpoint are welcome. Acceptance of proposals and completed articles is in the editor’s discretion. Submissions may be edited for length or additional considerations.