Wooing university professors with real estate

Each day I read stories like this, and find myself saying, "I didn't know they did that!" Did you know that New York universities buy really expensive condominiums and apartments for their professors to live in? It's true!

This story comes to light because New York University just bought a $5.2 million condo at the French Renaissance chateau on West 106th Street. It's apparently a gorgeous unit with high ceilings and a large turret, and offers views of Central Park. People are surprised, because this particular building has been one in which Columbia University likes to acquire units.

The reason for the purchase? NYU School of Law recruited Catherine Sharkey away from Columbia to teach product liability law. She was already living in the complex in a Columbia unit, but NYU shelled out the dough to buy this much bigger unit for her to live in. The schools do charge rent to faculty members, but it's unclear if those are at market rates. This is apparently a much more expensive unit than the university typically buys, but the schools say that such perks are often necessary to woo top professors to their schools.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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