David Petraeus' cushy CUNY gig: $1,500 an hour

The disgraced former general will earn $150,000 for one course at the NYC public university, leaving the average adjunct far behind.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 2, 2013 12:13PM

File photo of retired General David Petraeus speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 8, 2008 (© Joshua Roberts/Newscom/Reuters)Updated July 16, 2013

Take a scandal, a former public figure and an eager university, and you've got the recipe for a new type of academic class. Call it How to Get Disgraced and Still Make a Bundle 101.

Details are emerging on one of those recent hires, and some folks in academia are crying foul. The City University of New York, a public institution, will pay former CIA director and Army General David Petraeus $150,000 to work three hours a week during the academic year to lead a seminar, according to documents published by Gawker and obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request. 

That means he's earning roughly $1,500 per hour, based on a 16-week academic semester. Petraeus also has a teaching gig lined up at the University of Southern California, which hasn't disclosed his pay.

Adjunct professors at CUNY usually earn less than $3,000 per course, which would work out to $63 per hour, assuming three hours of instruction per week. Adjuncts also put in extra hours through grading and advising. 

Petraeus' position will be paid for by fundraising rather than taxpayers' dollars, a representative for CUNY told Gawker. His pay was also trimmed from an initial offer of $200,000 per year, although it wasn't clear why or when the reduction happened. 

Petraeus' pay highlights tensions within academia between high-paid celebrity professors and administrators and lower-paid teaching staffers, as well as for students and their families, many of whom are struggling with tuition increases that are outpacing the rate of inflation. On top of that, student loan rates doubled to 6.8% Monday after Congress failed to resolve the issue.

As for CUNY, it now relies on adjuncts to teach half its courses, according to the CUNY Adjunct Project. The reason? Adjuncts cost much less than tenured or tenure-track professors, starting with annual income of about $25,000. A full professor at CUNY can make from $56,000 to $102,000, the site notes. 

Other disgraced public figures who have transitioned to academia include former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who has since taught at City College, and former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, who taught in Kean University's MBA program. Like Petraeus, both Spitzer and McGreevey left office amid a sex scandal. 

Petraeus' pay scale isn't being well received within the ranks of academia. One commenter on the Chronicle of Higher Education noted: "This could pay for 3 entry level full-time positions at many state and community institutions. . . . Once again, the elite wins."

Update: Petraeus asked CUNY to reduce his salary to $1 per year, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing his attorney. "The general never was taking on this teaching assignment for the money," Robert Barnett, his lawyer, told the newspaper. Petraeus waived the salary to remove the controversy over his work with the school, he added.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Jul 2, 2013 12:37PM
I'm a former disabled airborne grunt who vacationed in Vietnam with the 101st.....so what's new? Hope the 150k helps him out. I'd settle for being able to get a VA clinic appointment that doesn't take a month of waiting. I guess I'm off topic with my morning rant but hurting like hell right now and in no mood for this kind of crap.
Jul 2, 2013 12:48PM

Why doesn't the media say "disgraced"  Clinton gets $100,000 per appearance to speak to liberal boneheads?


At least Petraeus had good taste. Clinton likes em big and ugly.

Jul 2, 2013 12:38PM
Practically as bad as having Weiner leading in the polls.
Jul 2, 2013 12:58PM

folks,  this is  the  current  corrupt  political  climate  this  nation  has  voted  into  office  since  bill   Lewinsky  had  his  ****.   just more of the  same,  make  sure  you submit to the  ruling   class and  all  will be rewarded for  your  corruption.

  good  ole  boys  club  in Washington.


Jul 2, 2013 1:05PM
This salary goes along with the government pension of 75% of his base pay at retirement capped at 30 years of service which amounts to over $90K annually just for waking up.  This just isn't right.
Jul 2, 2013 12:38PM

"Like Petraeus, both Spitzer and McGreevey left office amid a sex scandal."


They seem well-qualified to teach courses for, um, boneheads.

Jul 2, 2013 1:13PM
This is how our leaders collect on all those IOU's. They can't take cash while on the job and if Corporations gave them cash gifts after retirement it would be to easy for us to put two and two together. So instead they get Corporate funded speaking engagements at colleges and for Political Groups and the Corporations use these donations as proof to leaders still in Office that they too will be rewarded in due time if they play along. I'm sure that Halliburton and Blackwater will be donors since they are among the Corporations that Petraeus owns IOU's on.
Jul 2, 2013 1:26PM
I'm sure students are eagerly awaiting their new tuitions.
Jul 2, 2013 4:04PM
The military gets peanuts on retirement compared to senators, congressmen, and federal employees. If he is honest about how corrupt the federal government is, these kids might learn the truth instead of listening to some prof who has never worked an honest job in his life.
Jul 2, 2013 2:34PM
Is it about now somebody says something about glass houses and stones? If you live long enough, you  are either happy with the choices you've made in life......or you're not. The General is apparently happy.
Jul 2, 2013 3:01PM
What kind of moral message does this send to young adults in the process of being educated?
Jul 2, 2013 2:30PM
He was blackmailed out of his command by the regime, and harrassed by the attack dogs of the state run media,......he deserves 10x that money.
Jul 2, 2013 3:39PM
many, many Americans will complain about it for a little while but in the end we all shut up and deal with it. when, when the hell are we as American's going to stand up and start to make a difference ? I pray for the day a massive group of Americans band together and make the group grow and grow all with the common goal of making America a level playing field so we all have a chance.          YEA, RIGHT.
Jul 2, 2013 5:44PM
Wrong on so many points.  Petraeus may have resigned from his CIA position due to his relationship, but that can hardly be classified as a scandal.  He is not a celebrity professor; his credentials -- which already include professorial assignments in the past -- are far more weighty than a run-of-the-mill adjunct dragged into CUNY from Wall Street or MOMA.  Finally, did the writer even read what she wrote...?  His salary is coming through fundraising by those who want him to teach there; it is not coming from the public funds the public institution gets from the taxpayer.  As such, the ending paragraph is lunacy complete:  "This could pay for 3 entry level full-time positions at many state and community institutions. . . . Once again, the elite wins."  No it could not.  A fundraising would not be in the game for 3 entry level full-time positions; THOSE would be funded (or not) by the tax-based revenue of the institution.  Picchi needs to go back to school and learn a few things about A-B-C's and 1-2-3's; it seems her mind is on creating exploitative class warfare where none exists.
Jul 2, 2013 2:21PM
If you readers want to get really sick, just think what that 'effin Obabo will get after he leaves office.
Jul 2, 2013 1:52PM
He should run for the presidency with Hilary since both of them have common experiences with "cheaters in their marriage".
Jul 2, 2013 5:13PM

The military gets peanuts on retirement compared to senators, congressmen, and federal employees. --------Doesn't that depend upon your rank? Do the military elite commanders and others at the top,

pay anything in  toward their retirement benefits? Do they get SS too?

Jul 2, 2013 2:39PM
Celebrity trumps reason every time.  College costs continue to escalate out of control all the while the powers that be who make internal decisions continue to give the most to the few elite and put the costs on the backs of students through their tuition rates. 
Jul 2, 2013 3:09PM
Anybody else find the math in this article a little troubling?  Let's see:  3 hrs per week x 16 weeks is 48 hours.  Divide that into $150K and the real salary is over $3000 per hour, not $1500.  Almost 50% more than I make {cough}.
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