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In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Graduate Center and its Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.
About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman was able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails.
It’s certainly not teaching. “You will not be expected to teach or supervise students,” the letter informs Professor Krugman, who replies: “I admit that I had to read it several times to be clear … it’s remarkably generous.” (After his first year, Krugman will be required to host a single seminar.)
Ordinarily, I would not care in the least about this little bit of news. Krugman won the Nobel prize in Economics, he is a widely read pundit, he is deeply respected in academic and punditry circles, and it stands to reason that he is going to command a high salary. But given Krugman’s frequent jeremiads against income inequality, it is more than a little hilarious that he is going to be paid “$25,000 per month (over two semesters)” and “$225,000 per year” (note that if Krugman is getting $25,000 per month for a year, he would actually gross a cool $300,000 for the year) in order to “play a modest role” in public events about income inequality and “contribute to the build-up” of an “inequality initiative.” I wonder if Krugman stays up at night worrying that he might be contributing to the very problem that he is decrying — and being paid to decry. Probably not.
Oh, and there is this as well:
CUNY, which is publicly funded, pays adjunct professors approximately $3,000 per course. The annual salaries of tenured (but undistinguished) professors, meanwhile, top out at $116,364, according to the most recent salary schedule negotiated by the university system’s faculty union. And those professors are expected to teach and publish. Even David Petraeus, whom CUNY initially offered $150,000, conducted a weekly 3-hour seminar.
Any chance that people like Corey Robin–who raised such a fuss about David Petraeus’s teaching gig–will object to Krugman’s far more lucrative (and far less demanding) deal? Somehow, I doubt it.Published in