Although economics professor Paul Krugman announced his decision to join the City University of New York faculty on Feb. 28, email exchanges and documents indicate that private negotiations about his new position had been ongoing for over a year.
Krugman will retire from the University in June 2015 and become a professor in the Ph.D. program in economics at CUNY in August 2015. He will also become a distinguished scholar at CUNY Graduate Center’s Luxembourg Income Study Center later this year.
Krugman broke the news of his departure on his New York Times blog, “The Conscience of a Liberal,” on Feb. 28. According to his post, he had approached the LIS Center about becoming affiliated with it in some capacity and was unexpectedly also offered a faculty appointment at CUNY.
The way news broke was also planned. Krugman himself suggested in an email that it would be best to make the announcement in his blog post. CUNY’s public relations officials then followed up to make sure that his post matched the CUNY’s standards for style. His blog post was then preapproved by the PR officials.
The documents reviewed, which were originally obtained by Gawker, show that, in June 2013, Krugman, LIS Center director Janet Gornick and Graduate Center interim president Chase Robinson discussed organizing a lunch to confidentially discuss a “possibility.” The exact details of the meeting were redacted.
The lunch ultimately took place on Sept. 9, although Krugman had been in communication with Gornick as early as Feb. 28, 2013 about a May 2013 panel discussion on economic inequality in which the former participated.
Krugman informally accepted the position via email on Feb. 17, about 5 months after the lunch, requesting on Feb. 20 that the executive committee of CUNY’s economics department not hold a vote until at least Feb. 24 or 25 to give him time to inform the relevant people at Princeton. The executive committee approved Krugman’s nomination on Feb. 27, and Krugman made his announcement the following day.
“The center of gravity of my work has shifted over time toward more of a public policy focus,” Krugman wrote in his blog, adding that the decision was also due to geography and the LIS being one of the most important producers of data regarding income inequality.
He also told The Daily Princetonian in February that he was very overcommitted and looking for ways to simplify his life.
Robinson said Krugman’s academic work has been both groundbreaking and relevant.
“We are delighted that he will be joining our economics program and the Luxembourg Income Study Center,” he said. "Our students will benefit enormously from his teaching.”
Gornick also said that Krugman’s interest in economic inequality was particularly relevant to the work the LIS Center has been doing, noting that Krugman has in recent years often cited research about inequality and redistribution based on LIS data in his biweekly column.
According to a Feb. 24 CUNY letter offering him his appointment, Krugman will not be expected to teach during the 2015-16 academic year, instead contributing to CUNY’s buildup of the LIS and appearing at public events. Krugman will be expected to teach one seminar per year thereafter.
At Princeton, Krugman has taught two courses every spring for the past three years, according to the registrar. He has not been teaching courses in the Fall semester.
Krugman’s new position will pay $225,000 for an academic year, according to publicly available documents obtained by Gawker. He will also be offered an annual research and travel stipend of $10,000, reimbursement of moving expenses up to $10,000 and a graduate assistant, as well as unspecified benefits.
Tenured Princeton professors average an annual salary of $206,200, according to a 2013-14 American Association of University Professors report, although their “total compensation,” which takes into account a variety of benefits, averages $250,700. The average salary for a CUNY full professor was $89,768 per year, according to a July 2013 Times article.
“My biggest concern is time, not money,” Krugman wrote in a Feb. 12 email to Robinson. “[A]nd your description of the time commitment, one seminar per year plus public events and commitment to LIS … sounds as if it’s within the parameters I had in mind.”
Krugman was not available for comment. University economics department chair Gene Grossman did not respond to a request for comment.