Since posting my critique of Paul Krugman’s terms of hire at the CUNY Graduate Center, I took the time to collect some data on what CUNY’s distinguished professors—the rank Krugman will have—typically make.

As collectively bargained by the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty and staff union, distinguished professors earn a bonus of $25,878 above their salary as a full professor, the highest step of which is $116,364. That equals a total salary of $142,242, a figure roughly borne out by a random search of GC distinguished professors’ salaries in publicly available data (which yields an average salary of $156,490, a higher rate due to additional earnings from, say, directing a center). Given that base figure, then, Krugman is to be paid 58% more than the union-CUNY stipulated rate for distinguished professors.

Furthermore—and this part is key—Krugman will only have to teach one seminar a year after his first year at the GC, for a total of one unit, while the “usual workload” for distinguished professors, to quote from GC interim president Chase Robinson’s offer letter to Krugman, “would be four units; one course equals one unit, and a total of five tutorials and/or dissertation advisements equal one unit.” Instead of providing this additional instructional labor, however, Krugman is to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to our build-up of LIS and the inequality initiative,” which are also his sole responsibilities in his first year at the GC. In other words, Krugman is being paid a premium for his prestige: to show up at events, provide visibility to the Luxembourg Income Study Center, and to generally raise the profile—that is, publicize—the GC and its inequality initiative (whatever that is exactly). Meanwhile, the inequality at the GC goes unaddressed. Indeed, the terms of Krugman’s hire contribute to it: a 58% higher salary for 75% less instructional labor.

This analysis underscores Krugman’s ethical obligation to lower his salary—if not to a $1 (the rate CUNY’s previous celebrity hire, David Petraeus, makes) than at least to a rate that reflects his atypical instructional load: $35,560.50, or 25% of the mandated salary for CUNY distinguished professors. He could then direct the discrepancy between that figure and his offered salary of $225,000—$189,439.50—to be used in support of GC students and/or CUNY adjuncts, as GC alum James Hoff has rightly suggested.

The point? People should not be paid for their prestige. They should be paid for their labor, and at an equitable rate relative to other workers.

Why Krugman Should Earn $36K (If Not a $1)

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