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17 Jul, 2013 03:42

Petraeus' NYC teaching salary drops to $1 after public outrage

Petraeus' NYC teaching salary drops to $1 after public outrage

Former CIA director David Petraeus will take a teaching post at the City University of New York on an annual salary of $1, after the public institution was hit with a barrage of criticism over news its initial plans to pay him a six-figure sum.

Bringing on the former commander of the Allied Forces in Afghanistan was meant to give CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College a huge PR boost this fall, but instead it turned into a scandal once Petraeus' salary figure of $200,000 surfaced. This at a time when an Associate Professor’s salary at the institution averages around $90,000, according to glassdoor.com.

Documents showing negotiations over the former military boss' salary dating back to April were originally reported by Gawker. According to initial reports, Petraeus would conduct a seminar and two lectures per academic year for “$200,000 per annum, supplemented by funds from a private gift,” CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein wrote. The salary was still being negotiated at that time.

Petraeus then wrote to Ann Kirschner, the dean of CUNY's Macaulay College, telling her “The truth is that I could have had gotten more money or more prestigious places.”

The university eventually landed on the slightly lower sum of $150,000 as Petraeus' annual salary.

City University of New York

As public outrage at the publicly-funded educational institution flowed, Republican city assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor wrote a letter to CUNY's administration asking them to “reconsider” spending six figures on a “celebrity”. Bill de Blasio, a left-leaning candidate for mayor of New York whose bid has been endorsed by the CUNY faculty’s union, asked Interim Chancellor Bill Kelly to replace Petraeus’ contract with a salary comparable to what other instructors receive. Brad Lander, a New York City Council progressive, also started a petition against the high salary, arguing the money would be better used to cover the “30% tuition increase that CUNY has been implementing over five years.”

On Monday, it was announced by Petraeus' lawyer that the general would fill the post for just $1.

“The general never was taking on this teaching assignment for the money,”
said Robert Barnett, the lawyer. “Once controversy arose about the amount he was being paid, he decided it was much more important to keep the focus on the students, on the school and on the teaching, and not have it be about the money.” Therefore Petraeus agreed to wave his salary “to remove money as a point of controversy,” Barnett said.

Following the public exposure of the anticipated salary, Kirschner in a statement dismissed the controversy as “unfortunate,” saying, “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.”