Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Naughty, Naughty Boy

This guy's no physicist (but did major in math as an undergrad), but he is an academic who got in trouble with financial reimbursements from his University: Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia of whom you may have heard via the best-seller Freakonomics which features his work prominently.

This type of financial ''discrepancy'' doesn't seem terribly uncommon, but I don't see how this happens as much as it seems, given how tight and controlled most university's systems are. It's probably just that my mind isn't built to see the ways to abuse the system (that's not supposed to sound as immodest as it does).

His story and rise to academic stardom though is quite emblematic of how the academic world deviates from a pure meritocracy. Not to take anything away from the guy, but he clearly knows how to work the system and it's hard to believe there aren't many others who have gained far less with work just as significant.

A bit more can be found at the Freakonomics blog.


Douglas Natelson said...

I'm trying to imagine how my university would react if I had more than $240K in research funds for which I could not account, or if they insisted that I write a check for $13K to them to make up for accounting "issues". Wow. I'm pretty sure that would be the end of my career.

Angry said...

Interesting question. My first response is that I would simply have no idea how I would extract so much money without *already* having an account. But secondly, I'm not sure if my career would be over. To be fair, there are a few examples of similar behavior in which the offenders simply go to another school. But in this litigious environment, I could easily imagine a school trying to find something short of outright firing. Being something of a public figure would probably help (something that wouldn't help me).

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