Report from the first meeting of the Joint Committee of NYU Stakeholders

TO:  Members of the NYU community
FROM:  Co-chairs of the Joint Committee of NYU Stakeholders, Board Chair Marty Lipton and FSC Chair Raghu Sundaram
DATE:  November 6, 2013
RE:  Report from the first meeting of the Joint Committee of NYU Stakeholders


We write to report on the first meeting of the Joint Committee of NYU Stakeholders, which was held this past Friday, November 1. The Joint Committee was created as a pilot mechanism last spring through which the Board and the various constituencies at NYU can communicate with each other. The Board saw this as a way to benefit from the added viewpoints as it considers policy options; the stakeholders will benefit from understanding the thinking of the Board. We were encouraged by this first meeting and believe that the Joint Committee can be an important vehicle for improved input and consultation. We employed a format designed to maximize dialogue, with two rounds of open conversation at five tables, each table having two trustees, 6 or 7 faculty, and a student. An AMC rep also joined us. (A list of those elected is below; note that the FAS representatives present were there on an interim basis.) It is difficult, as you all know, to find a meeting time that works for everyone, but attendance was quite strong and we will poll the group to find the best time for our next meeting.

The meeting opened with greetings from each of us as co-chairs. As Board chair, Marty reiterated the purpose of the committee as surfacing concerns as well as opportunities for improvement related to key university issues. As Chair of the Faculty Senate Council, Raghu expressed appreciation to the trustees for setting up the committee and for the unprecedented effort it represented to increase communication. We both encouraged frank dialogue and expressed the hope that, in addition to hearing critiques, we would bring forward new ideas. We made clear that we would each report what went on at the meeting to our colleagues, urged others to feel free to do the same, and committed to writing this document to the whole community. A steering committee is being created composed of three trustees (Phyllis Putter Barasch, Evan Chesler, and Marty Lipton), three faculty (Raghu Sundaram and two to be elected by those serving on the committee), two students (Mariam Ehahri and Mason Detloff) and the chair of the AMC (David Vogelsgang). The steering committee will help shape the agenda and meeting formats for future meetings.

There was a short briefing from Marty on how the NYU Board of Trustees functions and its committee structure. Board members serve 6-year renewable terms; the board chair has a 4-year renewable term. Marty said his term was up at the end of 2015 and that he would not be standing for another term. In response to a question, Marty reaffirmed that the Board has determined that the search committee for the next President will include faculty, students, and alumni. It will be an open process, with no pre-selected candidate.

There were two 30-minute conversations at the tables, followed by a report from each table after each round. For the first conversation, the participants were asked to focus on specific ideas for improvement at the university; and for the second, on how best to improve communication or any other issues that needed to be surfaced. There was a good deal of overlap in themes that surfaced, including:

  • Transparency: Where do the University’s financial resources come from and how they are spent? What are the practical limits on transparency?
  • Governance: How does the University conceptualize shared governance and what role each constituency plays? How can inclusiveness be fostered without creating chaos? The need to focus on processes of inclusion, not just outcomes. How to encourage more faculty to step up to governance roles. Some people expressed the view that a small group of faculty has disproportionate voice in governance. The importance of active citizenship and follow-up so that an issue can be discussed and resolution of an issue is clear to all. The possibility was raised of more regular meetings between the President/senior administrators and smaller groups of faculty.
  • The composition of faculty: Tenure and tenure track as well as contract faculty; the relationship between the two; how contract faculty are connected to and represented in their schools and at the University level. What titles are appropriate for contract faculty at different schools? How does the university visualize the long-term role of contract faculty?
  • The scale of the University and the connections or lack thereof among the parts; how, as the University has grown, can people feel connected? What are the gains and losses? How can we reduce unnecessary replication, e.g., multiple Economics 101 classes? The difference between information and effective communication; how to learn from best practices. How to create mechanisms so people feel heard. On a practical level, a preference for shorter and more succinct emails from the University with larger font.

The meeting ended with an acknowledgment that many key issues were raised and that the challenge would be for the University to craft solutions that would resolve these issues productively and to the satisfaction of many, if not all.

Each of us felt this first meeting was productive and important and look forward to continued engagement and future meetings.

Joint Committee of NYU Stakeholders:

Awam Amkpa, Associate Professor of Drama, Social and Cultural Analysis, Tisch School of the Arts

Jeane Anastas, Professor of Social Work, Silver School of Social Work

Jennifer Arlen, Norma Z. Paige Professor of Law, Law School

Phyllis Barasch, Vice Chair, NYU Board of Trustees, Stern '81

Maria Bartiromo,NYU Board of Trustees, Anchor, CNBC Business News, WSC ’89

William Berkley, Vice Chair, NYU Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, W.R. Berkley Corporation, Stern '66

Jim Borowiec, Professor, School of Medicine

Tamara Bushnik, Associate Professor, School of Medicine

Heather Cannady, NYU Board of Trustees, Associate, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, CAS '04

Evan Chesler, NYU Board of Trustees, Chairman, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, ARTS '70, LAW '75

Robby Cohen, Professor of Social Studies Education, Steinhardt School

Florence Davis, NYU Board of Trustees, President, The Starr Foundation, LAW '79

Mason Detloff, College of Arts and Science, BA 2014

Vasant Dhar, Professor and Head, Information Systems Group Co-Director, Center for Business Analytics, Stern School of Business

Mariam Ehrari, Chair, Student Senators Council, College of Arts and Science, BA 2014

Joel Ehrenkranz, NYU Board of Trustees, Senior Partner, Ehrenkranz & Ehrenkranz, LLP, LAW '61, '63

Nieca Goldberg, Clincial Associate Professor, Medical Director Women's Heart Program, School of Medicine

Phillip Harper, Professor with Chair, Academic Director, Faculty of Arts & Science

Robert Hoffman, M.D., Professor, School of Medicine

Harris Inskeep, College of Arts and Science, BA 2014

Leila Jahangiri, Clinical Professor, College of Dentistry

Sameer Jaywant, College of Arts and Science, BA 2014

Tim Johnson, Librarian for Africana Studies, Anthropology and Food Studies, Bobst Library

Alexander Jones, Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Martin Klimke, Associate Professor of History, NYU AD

Ned Landau, Professor, School of Medicine

Ken Langone, Vice Chair, NYU Board of Trustees, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Invemed Associates, LLC, Stern '60

Brian Levine, NYU Board of Trustees, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Fellow, NY Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center, GSAS ’03, MED ’08

Martin Lipton, Chair, NYU Board of Trustees, Partner, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, LAW '55

Achiau Ludomirsky, M.D., Andrall E. Pearson Professor of Pediatric Cardiology, Director of Pediatric Cardiology, School of Medicine

Ted Magder, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, Steinhardt School

Joe Magee, Associate Professor of Management, NYU Wagner

Mimi Marziani, NYU Board of Trustees, Associate, Sullivan & Cromwell, LAW '08

Anna McCarthy, Professor, Tisch School of the Arts

Charlton McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, Steinhardt School

Sally Merry, Professor of Anthropology, Law and Society, Faculty of Arts & Science

David Oxman, NYU Board of Trustees, Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell

David Poeppel, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, Faculty of Arts & Science

Michael Rectenwald, Master Teacher of Liberal Studies Program, Liberal Studies

Vincent Renzi, Clinical Professor, Faculty of Arts & Science

Shelley Rice, Arts Professor, Tisch School of the Arts

Joe Salvatore, Clinical Assistant Professor of Educational Theatre, Steinhardt School

Miriam Robbins, Clinical Associate Professor, College of Dentistry

Susan Rogers, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts & Science

Michelle Shedlin, Professor, College of Nursing

Patrick Shrout, Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Arts & Science

Marti Subrahmanyam, Charles E. Merrill Professor of Finance, Economics and International Business, Stern School of Business

Edward Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts

Raghu Sundaram, Chair, Faculty Senators Council, Professor of Finance and Yamaichi Faculty Fellow, Stern School of Business

Jack Tchen, Associate Professor, Gallatin

Richard Thorsen, Vice President Emeritus, Senior Advisor to the President, Polytechnic Institute of NYU

Patrick Totaro, School of Law, JD 2014

Jennifer Trahan, Associate Clinical Professor of Global Affairs, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Raghu Varadhan, Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematica Sciences

David Vogelsang, Chair, Administrative Management Council, Executive Director, Student Resource Center

Anthony Welters,Vice Chair, NYU Board of Trustees, Law ’77

Tom Wisniewski, M.D., Professor, Director Aging and Dementia, School of Medicine