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Acclaimed Author and Professor Says Columbia U. Cheated Her Out of $923,000

Sylvia Nasar, a longtime journalism professor and prize-winning author, says the university underpaid her from an endowment fund dedicated to provide her with compensation. Ms. Nasar, a former economics reporter for The New York Times, won acclaim for A Beautiful Mind, a 1998 biography of John F. Nash Jr., a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The book was later adapted into an Oscar-winning movie. Ms. Nasar has taught since 2000 at Columbia, which declined to comment on the dispute.


“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.

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