5:18 pm Jan. 10, 2013
Sylvia Nasar, the German-born economist, correspondent and journalism professor at Columbia, is taking the university to court for just under $1 million, Capital has learned.
Nasar became internationally famous after writing the bestselling book A Beautiful Mind, and more famous after that book was adapted into an Oscar-winning film.
But she's also a long-time faculty member at the Columbia Journalism School and the co-director of its master's program in business journalism. And in a summons served to the university this week, she's seeking $923,000 and accusing the school of underpaying her from funds dedicated to her compensation package from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The summons was provided by a source to Capital. A complaint has not yet been filed.
"The nature of this action and the relief sought is to recover damages for breach of contractual duties owed to plaintiff as a third-party beneficiary, unjust enrichment and conversion, arising out of the diversion of funds accruing for the benefit of plaintiff pursuant to an endowment grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation dated Sept. 17, 1998," reads the summons, which was filed by Nasar's attorney in New York State Supreme Court on Jan. 7.
The attorney, Mark Lawless, said he was "not in a position to comment at this point." A spokesperson for Columbia declined to comment. An email to Nasar was not returned Thursday afternoon.
Nasar was the first Knight Professor of business journalism at the journalism school, and co-directs the master of arts program in the field with James Stewart, according to her bio page. She's been employed by Columbia since 2000; the funds from the Knight endowment are separate from her core salary.
Nasar also was previously an economics correspondent for The New York Times, a staff writer at Fortune and a freelancer whose work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker and Newsweek.
A Beautiful Mind, her Pulitzer-nominated unauthorized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning economist John Forbes Nash, won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award and was later adapted into the 2001 film of the same name starring Russell Crowe.