Professor David Petraeus meets Macaulay

Chatting with General David PetraeusDr. Petraeus visited Macaulay for the first time today, meeting with staff, students, and faculty.  I was asked by several students, “How did this come about?” and so here is the story.

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein was introduced to David Petraeus, who was interested in teaching undergraduates, with the thought that he might be interested in learning more about CUNY.  After all, anyone who cares about higher education, and cares about the City of New York, needs to know CUNY.  Chancellor Goldstein raised the possibility of bringing Dr. Petraeus to Macaulay, and after their meeting, I was brought into the discussions.  I knew little about Dr. Petraeus’ academic CV, knew he had a PhD but not that he had teaching experience as well as a long list of publications.  I did not know that (like many Macaulay students and me) he too was the son of an immigrant family.  We had several phone conversations, and then we met in Washington, which confirmed my initial reaction: Macaulay students, with their wide-ranging interests and intellect would find him a remarkable teacher and mentor.  We discussed the subject matter of his proposed syllabus, an emphasis on the remarkable decade ahead in energy, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and computing.

Perhaps most importantly, it seemed to  me Dr. Petraeus also got the Macaulay@CUNY DNA:  remarkable students who bring their energy, ambition, and diversity of background and ideas to the classroom.

As a prospective faculty member, he was then presented to a committee of three CUNY faculty, who considered his credentials and recommended his appointment as Visiting Professor.  The appointment was presented to the CUNY Board of Trustees, first to the Executive Committee, and then voted affirmatively by the full board.

Students were notified yesterday about the application process for Dr. Petraeus’ seminar; they are invited to submit written statements and other supporting materials, and will be selected by the Macaulay Academic Affairs team, with preference for seniors and representation across the campuses.

And then Dr. Petraeus met with about 25 students yesterday.  I was not present until the end of the discussion, and it was clear that it could have gone on for another hour or two.  Or three.  Having met Dr. Petraeus before, I was delighted and not surprised that Macaulay students were enthusiastic about his thoughtful approaches to complex issues.  They asked tough and probing questions.  And I was just as pleased with Dr. Petraeus’ reaction to our students, who lived up to their dean’s boast that they would be filled with talent and curiosity and well-prepared to grapple with 21st century challenges.

I did hear complaints from graduating seniors…sorry, Class of 2013!  I hope you will attend some of the public talks that Dr. Petraeus will do next year.

Over the next couple of weeks, we may hear about other activities underway for Dr. Petraeus outside of CUNY, none of which will change anything about his commitment to teaching at Macaulay.



  1. […] know that (like many Macaulay students and me) he too was the son of an immigrant family,” wrote Dean Kirshner. “We had several phone conversations, and then we met in Washington, which confirmed my […]