When most people think of working as an adjunct instructor, they probably picture teaching a semester-long course for a few thousand dollars with none of the benefits enjoyed by tenure-track professors (you know, things like health insurance, job security, and office space). It turns out, though, that there is a better way. It involves rising through the ranks of the military (the business world would probably work, too), losing your job, and being hired to teach a course for $150,000 per year. You might think that this sounds impossible, but it isn’t. General David Patraeus has done it, so it must be an option that the rest of us have been overlooking. As reported by J.K. Trotter at Gawker:
In April, CUNY announced that Petraeus would do a stint as a visiting professor of public policy at the school’s Macaulay Honors College, leading a seminar on “developments that could position the United States…to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown.” According to documents Gawker obtained from CUNY via a Freedom of Information Law request, the fallen war architect will net a whopping $200,000 a year for the course, which will total about three hours of work, aided by a group of graduate students to take care of “course research, administration, and grading.” (He will also throw in two lectures.)
This is a lot of money to spend on one person (CUNY could have hired a number of assistant professors or an army of adjuncts with that much money). Corey Robin discusses this, and the fact that the reported salary was downgraded (now it is only $150,000 – good thing he also has a job at USC!) after Gawker posted the story, at Crooked Timber:
I have no idea if Lalor is right about whether tax-payers are footing the bill for this celebrity hire or not. But let’s assume CUNY is securing private funds for it. Isn’t that in itself a terrible waste of resources? Private donations don’t just roll in; university fundraisers work and cultivate donors to make specific donations for earmarked funds. The notion that even one paid member of the university staff is working right now to secure private money to pay for this hire is itself a scandal.
It’s also indicative of a larger problem: CUNY is being run (into the ground) by a group of men and women with no sense of how to educate students, how to build (and pay) a first-class teaching staff, and how to manage a great public institution.
It is unfortunate that this story perpetuates that myth that teaching a three-credit-hour course only amounts to three hours per week of work, but it is hard to know how much work Patraeus will actually have to do given his graduate assistants. The fact that Patraeus was hired by CUNY at all also perpetuates the myth that anybody can teach regardless of training. On the other hand, it would be interesting to observe whether Patraeus’s students are better-behaved than typical college students and, if not, how he responds to them arriving late, falling asleep, and texting. Are push ups part of the CUNY curriculum?