Become a Member

Join PSC
Fill 1
PSC Rally across the Brooklyn Bridge

Home » Clarion » 2013 » May 2013 » Learning More, Then Earning More: Advanced Degrees Pay Off for CLTs and Assistants to HEO

Learning More, Then Earning More: Advanced Degrees Pay Off for CLTs and Assistants to HEO


HEOs and CLTs use their expertise every day to make the University run smoothly for students and faculty. In the last collective bargaining agreement, CUNY recognized this by agreeing to a pay an annual salary differential of $1,000 for Assistants to HEO, CLTs, Senior CLTs and Chief CLTs who hold a master’s degree in a field related to their job duties. Employees in these same titles who hold a doctorate in a field related to their work are eligible to receive a salary differential of $2,500.

As shown by PSC members interviewed below, the whole CUNY community benefits when HEOs and CLTs gain more advanced knowledge in their respective fields.

Sharif Elhakem
Chief CLT
Lehman College

Sharif Elhakem, Chief CLT in the Lehman chemistry department, receives a $1,000 pay differential for holding a master’s that is related to his field.

A couple of years after Sharif Elhakem joined Lehman’s chemistry department as a CLT in 2004, he began taking one to two graduate courses per semester on campus. Elhakem’s undergraduate degree in chemistry included a specialization in biochemistry and he sought to build on that knowledge with a biology master’s degree.

“I wanted to learn more about biology,” Elhakem told Clarion. “The information from ten years ago was not sufficient.”

By the time Elhakem received his master’s in January 2011, he was a senior CLT. With his new credential, he took advantage of the opportunity to teach one class per semester at Lehman as an adjunct. His master’s degree also made him eligible for the $1,000 pay differential guaranteed in the 2008 collective bargaining agreement.

For CUNY, the added pay was money well spent. In 2012, the chemistry department moved into Lehman’s $70-million New Science Building. Promoted to Chief CLT, Elhakem was responsible for ordering $270,000 in equipment and supplies that would be used by his department to teach courses in both chemistry and biochemistry. His deeper knowledge of the field helps him evaluate which purchases provide the hands-on experience with techniques and instrumentation that students are most likely to need after they graduate.

“When budgets are tight, you have to use every penny wisely,” Elhakem said. “There’s no room to make a bad purchase.”

While Elhakem says the pay differential is not a huge amount of money, it does create a “win-win situation.” “It’s a win for CUNY because they get a more professional staff. And it’s a win for the individual who is able to help themselves.”

Rabiyyah Williams
Assistant to HEO
John Jay College

One month after she started her new job as an administrative coordinator in John Jay’s Department of Public Safety, Rabiyyah Williams learned of some unexpected good news while attending a meeting of her campus HEO chapter in January: her master’s in public administration would likely qualify her for a pay differential of $1,000 more per year.

“When I found out I could get paid for having that degree, I got very excited,” said Williams who is still paying off the student loans she took out while in graduate school. Williams had earned her advanced degree three years earlier at John Jay, the same college where she now works.

Williams had worked in other jobs at John Jay from 2006 to 2010, holding part-time positions in the Department of Public Safety that included department secretary and office manager. In her current position, she oversees the work of dozens of student and full-time peace officers. Her responsibilities include recruitment, hiring, training, discipline and budgeting.

Of her MPA, Williams says, “It helps with my organizational skills, my communication skills and my auditing skills, as well as in working with a lot of different personalities.”

On February 20, Williams submitted her application for the pay differential, with a three-page description of how her advanced degree makes her a more advanced employee. Due to heavy turnover this semester in the Human Resources Department, Williams’ application has not yet been processed, but she’s confident about it and is keeping track.

“I’m going to continue to inquire about this,” she said, “because I need it.”

Nancy Silverman
Assistant to HEO
Graduate Center

The Graduate Center’s sprawling English PhD program has 350 doctoral students and 75 faculty members, most of whom are based at other campuses. As the program’s coordinator, Assistant to HEO Nancy Silverman keeps everything running smoothly. With the help of an assistant and eight work-study students, Silverman facilitates key milestones in the life of a doctoral candidate: comprehensive exams, second exams, oral defenses and language tests.

When Silverman came to the Graduate Center six years ago, graduate school was already familiar territory from her time in the English PhD program at New York University. While Silverman did not complete a doctoral dissertation, she earned a master’s degree in 1997 and brings that experience to her current job at CUNY. Well-versed in critical theory, feminist theory, post-structuralism and reader response criticism, Silverman says she can also relate to what students are experiencing on a more personal level, having written many seminar papers, taken oral exams and selected a dissertation advisor herself.

“I know how graduate school works,” Silverman said. “I wasn’t at the CUNY Grad Center, but these things are pretty universal.”

In May 2010, Silverman applied for the pay differential soon after the new contract went into effect. “A thousand dollars over a year is not much each week, but it makes me feel my educational achievement is valued,” she told Clarion.

Silverman was one of the first HEO-line employees at the Graduate Center to apply for the new pay differential. When Human Resources asked her to describe how her degree was related to her job duties, she wrote a memo explaining various ways that her graduate education made her more effective in her current position.


Silverman’s application was subsequently approved and she has shared her memo with colleagues who also went on to be approved for the pay differential.

“It was a simple process. I’m glad it went so easily,” says Jackie Martelle, a Grad Center colleague of Silverman’s who is receiving the pay differential for her PhD.

If you work as an assistant to HEO or in a CLT title and have an advanced degree related to your job duties that qualifies you for a pay differential, notify your supervisor. If you have any questions, please contact Albert Muñoz at 212-354-1252 or [email protected].

Jump to Content
Attend a bargaining session