TO: NYU COMMUNITY
FROM: NYU President John Sexton
DATE: Friday, May 16, 2014
Dear Fellow Members of the NYU Community,
As we come to the end of the academic year and prepare for Commencement exercises, I want to highlight briefly some of this year’s key achievements, and set the stage for academic year 2014-15.
Thanks to the efforts of faculty, students, and administrators who agreed to serve on dean search committees at Tisch and Steinhardt, we have recently named two outstanding new deans: Dominic Brewer, who comes to us from the University of Southern California, will be the dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and Allyson Green, an artist and associate dean at the Tisch School of the Arts since 2012, will be the TSOA dean. Their appointments, along with other recent leadership appointments (Sherry Glied at Wagner, Dennis Di Lorenzo at SCPS, Cheryl Healton at the Global Institute of Public Health, Trevor Morrison at the School of Law), not only strengthen and revitalize the leadership of the University, they also presage coming senior leadership transitions.
In the coming weeks, the Board of Trustees is expected to name a Chair-Designee to succeed Martin Lipton, who has compiled an extraordinary record of achievement and service to NYU over decades of affiliation as an alumnus, Trustee, and Board Chair. And, subsequently, as previously announced, the Board is expected to begin the process of selecting a new president of NYU.
Thanks to the hard work of the University Senate’s Committee on Governance, our contract faculty have a clear and established voice in our governance structures, an overdue development. In my more than 30 years at NYU, seldom have I seen as thoughtful a debate in the Senate than the discourse on this matter. Many of the concerns expressed by tenured faculty were trenchant, so I see this spring’s vote – which importantly gave representation to contract faculty – as the first step, not the last. We should use the next two years to continue to study carefully the issues raised during the Senate debate even as we welcome full-time, non-tenure track/contract faculty into our governance system.
The University Space Priorities delivered its final report (PDF) in March of this year, and both the University Administration and the Board of Trustees embraced its findings. One of the Working Group’s key recommendations was the formation of an advisory committee to provide guidance and input before, during, and after the construction of a new academic facility on the Silver Towers superblock. So, we have formed the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee; its membership can be found here. In addition, we have formed a committee led by Christopher Bledsoe, the Director of Athletics, to explore how to meet the needs of our athletic teams and the recreational and fitness needs of the members of our community while the Coles site is under construction.
NYU’s appeal – the quality of the education NYU delivers, the opportunities offered by New York City and our global network, and our scholars’ research – continues to be great: for the seventh year in a row, we had a record number of applications for freshman admission – nearly 53,000. While this year’s numbers – up from about 48,000 last year – includes first-time applicants to our School of Engineering (having completed the merger with Poly this past January), it was a record year even with an apples-to-apples comparison.
Since 2002, we have made significant improvements to our financial aid packages: the overall budget has more than doubled; the average NYU scholarship grant has increased from 34% to 55% of tuition and fees for entering freshmen; and, for the last couple of years, average debt upon graduation has been declining.
This past fall we announced the official start of our Momentum Campaign, meant to raise $1 billion for scholarship aid by 2017. I am pleased to report that we have already raised $309 million towards that goal. And with the announcement of the new fundraising campaign came two new financial aid programs: the Finish Line Grant program, which helps reduce debt for graduating NYU students, and the Global Pathways Scholarship, which will enable students to participate in a Study Away experience who might otherwise have been precluded due to financial constraints. We awarded approximately 600 Finish Line grants totaling $1 million to December graduates, and we expect to award between 1500 and 2000 Finish Line grants worth some $5 million to students graduating next week. The Global Pathway Scholarships will become available in the fall; any student with financial need who is approved for Study Away will be eligible.
In November, NYU and the UAW came together in a spirit of cooperation to agree to proceed with an election allowing graduate employees to be represented by the UAW. Negotiations began in February, and have been proceeding productively.
As I mentioned earlier, NYU and Polytechnic University formally completed our merger this year, thus restoring engineering as a discipline to our University after an absence of some 40 years. We are proud to have them participate in this year’s Commencement Exercises as a school of the University.
Commencement for NYU Abu Dhabi’s first graduating class – which includes a Rhodes Scholar, two Falcon Scholars (also under the aegis of the Rhodes Trust), and students going on to top employers, graduate schools, and professional schools -- will be held on its new Saadiyat Island campus, which will open officially with the arrival of next fall’s freshman class. And NYU Shanghai’s new building, in the Pudong section of that city, will also begin serving its students and faculty and providing the program with a permanent academic home next fall.
Significant strides were made this year to deepen faculty, departmental, and school involvement with our global sites. As of today, 87 partnerships and 108 affiliations have been established by departments or schools across our eleven global sites; site-specific faculty committees were established for each global site with over 90 faculty (both New York and local faculty) participating; and, nearly all courses offered by the sites have been reviewed by faculty from the sponsoring schools and departments. This work has laid the foundation for developing academic pathways at the global sites that will enable students to make progress toward their degree while studying away. Over the next year, the site-specific faculty committees will continue this important work, which will be enhanced by funds set aside for faculty from partnership departments to travel to sites for short trips to explore course offerings and research opportunities more deeply.
2014 was also a great year for NYU’s research enterprise. Across all schools, our research program expanded to over $400 million, an increase of over 50% in the last four years. And NYU Abu Dhabi held its inaugural Research Conference to showcase the research of its faculty, researchers, and students; scholars there completed approximately 200 books, journal articles, conference proceedings, and chapters this year.
This year also marked the start of construction on our new entrepreneurship center, the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab, or eLab. The eLab will be a unique, new collaborative place for aspiring student entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and hold their events.
As in years past, NYU, like the vast majority of universities, continues to confront significant economic pressures as it works to sustain nothing short of excellence in fulfilling its educational and research missions. As we do annually, we consulted on next year's budget with the Faculty Senators Council, the Administrative Management Council, and the Student Senators Council through the Senate Financial Affairs Committee, the Deans, and the senior administrative leadership of the University. The broad budget recommendations for the coming year -- which must still be approved by the Board in June -- are as follows:
Undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board - For the 2014-15 academic year, we have budgeted an increase of 2.9% in undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees at most schools – our lowest increase in 20 years; the average increase in room and board for all undergraduates will be 3.5%.
Financial Aid - Undergraduate financial aid will increase by 3.0%. In addition, fully-funded graduate students will continue to receive full tuition remission; have premiums for their graduate health care plan paid by the University; and their minimum stipend will be increased by 2.5%.
Salary actions for faculty and for administrators – At its June meeting, the Board of Trustees will review recommendations for an Annual Merit Increase (AMI) pool totaling 2.5% for merit-based increases for faculty and 2.5% for administrators for academic year 2014-15. For administrators, as in the past, there will be a pool equal to 0.5% of the salary base for annual and “spot” bonuses for particularly meritorious performance.
As we come to the end of the academic year, I want to wish all our students good luck with their final examinations and other end-of-year work. Your studies are important, to be sure, but most of important of all is to take good care of yourselves; if you find yourself having difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out – there are many people available to help you.
To our graduates: I want to congratulate you on the completion of your work and all your achievements over the past few years. We join with your families in feeling great pride at your accomplishments and great excitement about what you will go on to do from here. We hope you will keep NYU in your hearts, as you will be in ours, and will keep in touch with us, sharing not just your triumphs – about which we shall be glad to hear – but your challenges and stumbles, too. Whatever life brings your way, you will always be welcome here.
To our faculty: thank you for your hard work, for your dedication to our students and our University, for the new knowledge you contribute to the world, and for ensuring we always stay true to our academic values and principles.
To our administrators and staff: your devotion to NYU is a constant inspiration to me, and for making possible the research and the teaching and learning that take place every day, you have my deep gratitude.
And to all those who will be returning to the NYU community next fall: have a great summer. I look forward to reconvening with you all in September 2014.