It’s official: leaving UCLA for NYU

This has been in the works for a while, but now it’s formally out: I’ll be leaving UCLA after 19 years (that’s one Great Year, if you’re keeping lunation score at home) and moving to the Marron Institute on Urban Management at NYU. I’ll be working on crime control and drug policy, with a visiting appointment at the Wagner School, where I’m hoping to teach in the new undergraduate public policy major. The Institute is the brainchild of Paul Romer, based around a simple proposition: while the major worldwide social process of the century 1950-2050 is the migration from villages to cities, no one has a clue about how to run those cities. My job is to figure out the public-safety part of that challenge, and in particular how to massively reduce incarceration while keeping crime trends headed downward.

I’m looking forward to: working with Paul Romer, pursuing projects with the city and state governments, living in Manhattan,  spring, fall, thundershowers, sunsets, broad-leafed trees, bookstores, and being in the right time zone for national news and only a comfortable train ride away from DC, Philadelphia, or Boston.

I’m not looking forward to: summer, winter, and East Coast manners.

I’ll miss: great colleagues and students at UCLA, hiking any day of the year, beaches.

I won’t miss: watching the California budget process destroy the University of California. Pat Brown’s creation of the UC system was one of the greatest public-management triumphs of the 20th Century. (It’s not well known, but in the Shanghai rankings UC holds four of the top 20 slots worldwide.)  There’s a way to prevent the legislature and the governor from pounding UC back into mediocrity – a constitutional amendment ballot initiative requiring the state to spend at least as much on universities as it does on prisons – but after ten years of failing to get anyone at UC to take the idea seriously (even after getting endorsements from LA Police Chief Charlie Beck and SF District Attorney George Gascon) I’m giving up.

The public policy department I’ll be leaving is, in my carefully considered – though of course not unbiased – view, the best, pound-for-pound, in the country. That is, if Kennedy or Goldman or Harris or Sanford or Wagner offered to trade one of their faculty, selected at random, for one of ours, also selected at random, I’d advise UCLA to turn down the offer. There aren’t enough of us – see complaint above – but we’ve managed to mount a first-class MPP program, and in recent years we’ve been able to attract an excellent group of students. It’s agreed that I’ll stay connected to UCLA in some capacity.

In the meantime, the Big Apple beckons. As a way of dealing with a midlife crisis, a new job beats a Miata. And once I have Manhattan apartment with a guest bedroom, I expect to see a lot of my out-of-town friends.




Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “It’s official: leaving UCLA for NYU”

  1. As the holder of degrees from both USC and NYU, I'm tempted to see your new appointment as yet further evidence that, just as USC has surpassed UCLA, NYU has surpassed Columbia. But that would be churlish of me.

    Congratulations. Enjoy the new gig. Be sure to get out the the Village Vanguard, the Met, and Citi Field.

  2. It should be an interesting gig. Romer is one of the most insightful economist whose work I am familiar with, especially about development issues. And Iridium is a great jazz club.

  3. You do understand that it snows There? Lots of snow. Which then turns to really disgusting slush. I hope this is a really big promotion but, even so, I would have chosen the sports car.

    1. "Lots of snow"

      Depends on perspective. I grew up in Rochester NY.

      Anyway, congrats Mark from a long-time reader. I've been hoping cities would take up your policies on reducing gang violence – haven't seen much happening but maybe I've missed it. May this get your ideas into experimental practice.

  4. One point of correction: Even if 60 is the new 50, you're a bit beyond the age for a good mid-life crisis. However, in all events, welcome back to the East.

  5. Will the 'reality' in the Reality-Based Community change once you move to the Big Apple?

  6. You don't have to miss the beach, you do know that there is an ocean pretty near Manhattan? It's very easy to get to any number of public beaches. From NYU, Brighton Beach is just a subway ride away…

  7. A two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is only marginally more expensive than a one bedroom. A one-bedroom could be thought of as a studio with a guest room. 🙂

  8. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

    But since you've already made the decision … please don't fall for all the greenwashing bs being spewed by New Urbanists/smartgrowthers. Sounds like you're not really going that direction, but, anyway, please don't. Frankly I can see why you want to get out of LA. Sort of. Really you weren't even living in it. Anyway. Good luck!

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