Tag: CUNY

CUNY, All Too CUNY: Or, What Happens When Higher-Ed Hoodlums Aren’t Brought to Heel?

In August, I blogged about a New York Times story on a corruption investigation of City College President Lisa Coico. On Friday, the Times reported that Coico abruptly resigned. Today, the Times has a long piece on the corruption and potential criminality that led to Coico’s resignation (upon threat of firing). On the one hand, the piece paints a portrait of a college president so fantastically corrupt, it’s almost comical. Ms. Coico, who had an annual salary of $400,000 at that point [2011], was using the college’s main fund-raising vehicle, the 21st Century Foundation, to pay tens of thousands of dollars for housekeeping, furniture, seasonal fruits and organic maple-glazed nuts, among other items….By August 2011, according to an email between two school officials, the college had begun to […]

Anti-Semitism at CUNY? At Brooklyn College? In the Department of Political Science?

Last spring, in response to claims and complaints of several pro-Israel groups, CUNY hired two attorneys, a former federal judge and former federal prosecutor, to investigate alleged anti-Semitism at CUNY. After six months of investigation—and God knows how many billable hours (partners at the firm where the two investigators work charge up to $1,000 an hour)—the investigators have issued their report. Among their findings: what anti-Semitism there is at CUNY (and some of the incidents documented here are genuinely anti-Semitic) has nothing to do with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Given that accusations against SJP were the main impetus for the complaint—the Zionist Organization of America, along with 35 New York elected officials, called for SJP to be suspended or banned from all CUNY […]

On Corruption at CUNY

The New York Times reports this morning: The City University of New York is investigating whether a recent $500,000 donation intended to bolster the humanities and arts at its flagship school may have been improperly diverted. The inquiry was prompted by senior faculty members at the school, the City College of New York, who learned that an account that should have contained roughly $600,000, thanks to the donation, had just $76. Faculty members asked City College officials for an explanation, but were met with “silence, delay and deflection” before appealing directly the university’s chancellor, James B. Milliken. Mr. Milliken then asked Frederick P. Schaffer, the university’s general counsel and senior vice chancellor for legal affairs, to look into the “the expenditure […]

The Relentless Shabbiness of CUNY: What Is To Be Done?

The lead story in today’s New York Times is a devastating attack on CUNY, where I’ve been teaching for nearly two decades, and the state’s criminal under-funding of a once-great institution. An above-the-fold photograph of a library at one of CUNY’s senior colleges features students studying at tables, surrounded by buckets strategically placed to catch the gallons of water dripping down from the ceiling. It’s a near perfect tableau of what it’s like to teach at CUNY today: excellent, hard-working students, encircled by shabbiness, disrepair, and neglect. Though you should read the entire piece, here are some of the highlights. The infrastructure is collapsing The piece begins thus— On the City College of New York’s handsome Gothic campus, leaking ceilings have turned hallways into obstacle courses of buckets. […]

Today, I voted to authorize my union at CUNY to call a strike

This semester, I’m teaching our department capstone seminar, on the classics of political economy, in which students are expected to write a lengthy piece of original research. It’s an intense process for the students. We start with a one- to two-page précis. The students then write a detailed outline of the paper. Then they submit a rough draft (I just got the rough drafts yesterday and have begun reading them today). And then the final draft, which is due in a few weeks. My goal is twofold: first, to get the students to really dig into a topic (I’ve written about that here); second, to teach the students that old truism that all writing is just rewriting. I think the fancy ed folks […]

When We Betray Our Students

A couple of months ago, at the beginning of the semester, I posted on Facebook a plea to my fellow faculty that they not post complaints there about their students. I said that I considered such public commentary a kind of betrayal, even when the students weren’t named. Yesterday, Gothamist reported that an undercover cop had been spying for months, if not years, on a group of Muslim students at Brooklyn College, leading to the arrest of two women last spring for allegedly planning to build a bomb. Set aside the problem of entrapment with these schemes. Set aside Mayor de Blasio’s promise to stop this kind of surveillance of Muslims in New York. Let’s focus instead on the leadership of CUNY […]

Congratulations, John Adams: You Got CUNY’d

On Twitter tonight, The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, whose book The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century I discussed on Memorial Day, was tweeting about the protests that greeted the Met premiere of John Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer. Here are just some of Ross’ tweets.   Giuliani concedes that John Adams is “one of our great American composers” but declares that his opera “supports terrorism.” #Klinghoffer — Alex Ross (@alexrossmusic) October 20, 2014 Ben Brafman says, “This may not be Auschwitz, it’s Lincoln Center,” but suggests that another Holocaust could happen. #Klinghoffer — Alex Ross (@alexrossmusic) October 20, 2014 Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President, says that she is “personally offended by the play.” #Klinghoffer — […]

Please do not sign Brooklyn College Worker Ed Petition

A petition titled “Save Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education” is currently being circulated on the internet. As the interim director of that center, a former union organizer, a vocal advocate of labor rights, and a firm believer in worker education, I am asking people NOT to sign this petition. By way of background, the Graduate Center for Worker Education (GCWE) was historically run by a small group of faculty in my department (political science). In 2011, the department elected a new chair and a new executive committee, including myself. We discovered that the GCWE was suffering from severely compromised academic standards. We also found evidence of financial wrongdoing. The Brooklyn College administration took immediate action and removed the […]

CUNY Backs Down (Way Down) on Petraeus

Today CUNY announced that it would pay General David Petraeus exactly $1 to teach two courses next year. As the New York Times suggests, the scandal just got to be too much for the university and for Petraeus: It was supposed to be a feather in the cap for the City University of New York’s ambitious honors college. Or perhaps a careful first step back into public life for a leader sidelined by scandal. One way or another, the news that David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director and commander of the allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be a visiting professor at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY this coming academic year was supposed to be great publicity […]

Even Don Draper Went to CUNY

Some defenders of CUNY’s hiring of General David Petraeus are claiming that it is a worthwhile investment. The 10 to 20 students in his seminar will profit from his elite contacts. The networking. The access.  The all in. Even if this were true, it’s an expensive proposition. CUNY educates some 200,000 students a year. Spending $150,000 to reach .005 to .01% of them seems like a bad use of resources. But more important, it signals how much our understanding of public education, and its role in the larger culture, has changed. Here is just a small list of CUNY alumni from over the years: Bella Azbug, Audre Lorde, Colin Powell, Irving Howe, Ruby Dee, Shirley Chisholm, Paddy Chayevsky, Nathan Glazer, […]

It’s Official: CUNY Scandal Upgraded to “Petraeusgate”

I’ve just received several emails from J.K. Trotter, the Gawker reporter who broke the story of CUNY paying David Petraeus $150/$200k to teach one course next year at the Macaulay Honors College. With Trotter’s permission, I am publishing excerpts from his emails here. For background on the ever growing scandal—specifically, whether CUNY fabricated a fake offer letter after the story broke—see here, here, and here. Here’s Trotter: Regarding the FOIL [Freedom of Information Law] discrepancy: When I first requested the records in question, I submitted two identical requests to both CUNY’s Central Office, on 42nd Street, and Macaulay Honors College, since each employ their own records access officer. (I asked for correspondence between Petraeus and CUNY officials, and for correspondence between CUNY […]

In a Hole, CUNY Digs Deeper

Two days ago, Gawker reported that CUNY was paying General David Petraeus $200,000 to teach one course next year. Three hours after the story broke, CUNY informed Gawker that the salary was in fact lower: Petraeus would only be getting $150,000 and would also be giving some of it to charity. Yesterday, Republican State Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor challenged the timing of that announcement, pointing out that CUNY had yet to produce any documentary evidence to show that it had not revised the salary downward after—and only after—the Gawker story had broken. CUNY is now claiming that they have a letter, dated May 29, 2013, from Dean Anne Kirschner to Petraeus, setting out the $150,000 salary. They’ve posted it on this […]

NYS Assemblyman (and Iraq War Vet) Blasts CUNY Over Petraeus: Says Administrators Are Lying

CUNY administrators are coming under increasing fire for their decision to hire General David Petraeus to teach one course next year for anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000. The American Association of University Professors has denounced the decision. And now Republican State Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a Marine vet who fought in the Iraq War, has issued a scorching letter to CUNY interim chancellor William Kelly. Lalor focuses on two issues. First, he charges CUNY with dishonesty. When Gawker first broke the story of Petraeus’s salary, it reported that he was going to be getting $200k. That report was based on Freedom of Information Law documents Gawker had obtained from CUNY. Within hours, however, CUNY announced that Petraeus was only going […]

Pay us like you pay Petraeus

If you’re an adjunct at CUNY, you make about $3,000 per course. If you’re an adjunct at CUNY and you’re David Petraeus, you make about $200,000 per course. With an army of teaching assistants and graders. With travel and research funds. While you’re getting boatloads of money for teaching at USC (“You won’t believe what USC will pay per week,” Petraeus kvells in an email to Ann Kirschner, the dean of the CUNY honors college where Petreaus will be teaching). Gawker has the whole email thread, plus some other documents they got through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Petraeus may not be quite all in at CUNY

General David Petraeus has been hired to teach at CUNY at the University of Southern California (h/t Anna Law): David H. Petraeus, the former four-star U.S. Army general who resigned as head of the Central Intelligence Agency last year after confessing to an extramarital affair, will teach part-time at USC and help mentor students who are veterans, officials are announcing Thursday. Petraeus, who commanded coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, will teach and participate in seminars on such issues as international relations, government, leadership, information technology and energy, according to USC… … Petraeus, 60, is supposed to start his faculty position at USC July 1 for an open-ended period, officials said. “I am very grateful to have an opportunity to […]

Petraeus is Coming to CUNY. Just “like the invasion of Iraq.”

In case you were wondering about this… David H. Petraeus, who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency last November after having an extramarital affair with his biographer, will serve as a visiting professor at the City University of New York next academic year, the university announced on Tuesday. Mr. Petraeus, who will be the next visiting professor of public policy at the university’s Macaulay Honors College, had been approached by many universities, but settled on CUNY because he admires its diversity of students, locations and offerings, his lawyer, Robert Barnett, said in an interview. …Buzzfeed reports this (h/t Michael Busch): There is a quiet and conventional path from shame to redemption for American political figures brought down by […]

God Bless Benno Schmidt

I love Benno Schmidt. He’s the chair of the Board of Trustees of CUNY, where I teach, and a former president of Yale. More important, he’s a man who’s spent so much time in the business world that he’s no longer capable of leaving anything to the imagination. So you get from him a refreshingly crude form of honesty that you ordinarily don’t find in academia. Certainly not in university leaders, who are so adept at making themselves misunderstood that you’d think they were trained by apparatchiks in the former Soviet Union. Or Straussians. Anyway, Benno was interviewed by the New York Post about his plans for CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, who’ll be retiring at the end of the year.  […]

Bertolt Brecht Comes to CUNY

Last month, the English Department faculty at Queensborough Community College (QCC), which is part of the CUNY system where I teach, voted to recall their chair and elect a new chair. (At CUNY, chairs are elected.)The vote was a landslide, as these things go: over 20 out of 30 full-time faculty were in favor of the recall and the new chair. On Tuesday, the president of QCC decided to overturn the faculty’s decision. Among the reasons the president gave for her decision was that the department was divided (apparently, only Soviet-style election results in which 100 percent of the people vote for the Party are acceptable) and needed time to heal (by having its decisions overturned). The president also reappointed […]