Former CIA director David Petraeus will receive $1 to teach a three-hour weekly class at The City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College, a deep pay cut from the $150,000 he had planned to receive.
"General Petraeus has requested that the Honors College reduce his salary to $1 a year," confirmed his attorney, Robert Barnett.
Petraeus, 60, resigned as CIA director in Nov. 2012 after it was revealed he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The former general will join The City University of New York starting Aug. 1 as a visiting professor for the year. He will teach one class per semester for about 15 to 20 students, the school communications director has said.
"The general never was taking on this teaching assignment for the money," Barnett told the New York Times on Monday. "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."
Dean Ann Kirschner of the Macaulay Honors College said in a statement to ABC News, "We are grateful to Dr. Petraeus for this opportunity. Well in advance of his official term as Visiting Professor this autumn, he engaged the Macaulay and CUNY community with generosity and energy. From what I've already seen, he is focused on how best to support our students — in their research, classroom activities, and professional aspirations. He will bring the classroom a rare perspective drawn from decades of mentorship and leadership in global initiatives."
Petraeus' class is called, "Are we on the threshold of the (North) American Decades?" according to Michael Arena, CUNY director for communications and marketing, and Petraeus will discuss "all areas where American innovation is leading the way" including "advanced manufacturing, life sciences, IT and energy."
According to a person familiar with the matter, Petraeus, who received a B.S. with honors from the United States Military Academy and M.P.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, received numerous higher offers elsewhere and was planning to give a portion of his $150,000 salary to veterans' charities.
The news of Petraeus' salary was initially revealed on July 1 by the blog Gawker, which submitted a request through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to CUNY. That request yielded documents that included a letter from CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein initially discussing a salary of $200,000.
"As I indicated, your compensation consists of a salary of $200,000 per annum, supplemented by funds (as yet to be secured) from a private gift," Goldstein writes in a letter dated March 6, 2013. "In addition, we will provide the graduate student support mentioned above to assist you with course research, administration, and grading, as well as limited travel funds for professional meetings attended as a CUNY representative."
In correspondence dated July 1, Macaulay Honors College dean Ann Kirschner writes to Petraeus about the $150,000 salary they settled on, saying, "Knowing that you have been sought after by other institutions, some of them offering higher salaries, I am particularly grateful that you have agreed to a lower compensation than we originally offered."
Arena had said the funding for Petraeus' original salary came from multiple private sources and not tax dollars.
After news broke on July 1 about Petraeus' salary, Republican N.Y. assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor wrote a letter to CUNY asking it to "reconsider" whether a public university should spend $150,000 for a "celebrity".
When Petraeus' appointment was announced by the university on April 23, he said in a statement that he was "very pleased to have an opportunity to work with the talented students at Macaulay Honors College."
"Sixty-percent of Macaulay students are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, and as the son of an immigrant who settled north of New York City, I identify with them and applaud their achievements in earning a place in CUNY's honors college," Petraeus said. "Beyond that, I look forward to leading a seminar at Macaulay that examines the developments that could position the United States – and our North American partners – to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown."
Martin Snyder, acting executive director of the American Association of University Professors, called the $150,000 salary "outrageous" and "ridiculous" for a public university, saying $150,000 could fund two full-time university professors to teach hundreds of students.
The most recent data from the American Association of University Professors in April shows full-time non-tenure-track faculty members nationwide earned a median academic year salary of $47,500 in fall 2010.
CUNY has aggressively fundraised about $2.7 billion from private sources over the last decade, Arena has said. The school system has 23 campuses in five boroughs with a total student enrollment of about 269,000.