Not all adjuncts at CUNY are being paid at subsistence level:
David H. Petraeus will earn a $150,000 salary when he joins the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College this fall as a visiting professor of public policy, according to documents obtained by the Web site Gawker through a public-records request.
Shall we make the obvious comparison? I think we shall:
CUNY adjuncts usually earn less than $3,000 per course.
Needless to say, adjuncts generally don’t get “a group of graduate students to take care of ‘course research, administration, and grading'” either.
And what possible justification could there be for this? Petraeus is not going to contribute meaningful scholarship or service, and there’s no reason to believe that his experience will provide added value over another experienced instructor that could justify a $147,000 premium (let alone the $197,000 extra they initially offered him.) Talented students are already applying to Macaulay Honors College, and as far as I can tell there’s no reason that having a famous public official who recently resigned in disgrace teach a single course will make Macaulay more attractive to applicants. (Given that CUNY administrators imagined fundraisers anxious to play for the boondoggle that didn’t exist, there’s certainly no reason to trust their judgment about any positive effects.)
Among other things, this scandal should remind us that there’s nothing inevitable about the adjuncts who do an increasing amount of the teaching in American higher education making barely or less than a living wage. It represents a discretionary choice by the people who run universities and the people who fund them. Whenever money is needed to hire a famous person to do something or other or to provide golden parachutes to already wealthy administrators or to hire another Associate Vice Provost of Strategically Proactive Marketing Dynamism, somehow it can always be found.