David Petraeus' $150G CUNY paycheck draws protests

David H. Petraeus, former army general and head David H. Petraeus, former army general and head of the Central Intelligence Agency, speaks at the annual dinner for veterans and ROTC students at the University of Southern California. (March 26, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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A firestorm of protest has erupted at the news that David Petraeus, the disgraced former head of the CIA, will be paid $150,000 to teach a three-hour class once a week for two semesters through the CUNYs Macaulay Honors College. The post promises graduate students to help him research, administer exams and grade papers.

Tuesday, a union representing CUNY faculty and staff sent out a statement in protest of Petraeus' salary, which was first reported by Gawker.com.

"It is obscene for a university that operates on a bare bones budget to pay anyone $150,000 for a single course per semester. Every dollar raised at CUNY, whether from public or private sources, should go to providing broad access to a quality education," Barbara Bowen, president of Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, said in a statement.

Petraeus, 60, resigned as CIA chief in November after revelations of an extramarital affair with his also-married biographer, Paula Broadwell. At CUNY, he will teach a course on energy, advanced manufacturing and life sciences.

Steve London, first vice president of the professional congress, which represents 25,000 CUNY employees, noted that adjuncts teaching a similar class typically make $3,000 per semester, with no or minimal help from assistants.

Petraeus' attorney, Robert Barnett, said his client had no comment.

Michael Arena, CUNY spokesman, disputed the characterization of CUNY as a needy institution. Six of 10 full-time undergrads get a tuition-free education and almost 85 percent of undergraduate students graduate with zero debt, he said.

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Petraeus will also give lectures on topics related to his areas of expertise, such as the Middle East, Arena said. He added that private funds, not tax dollars, are being used for Petraeus' pay.

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