NYU Alumni Magazine Fall 2007

Letter from the President

Green is in the air. One cannot pass a newsstand, radio, or TV without catching the latest report on global climate change. Even rock stars helped spread awareness last summer with a day of Live Earth concerts across the world. On the political stage, 169 nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and, despite a lack of participation by the United States, a few courageous leaders in this country have already set agendas to confront the challenges of global warming.

Among them is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (HON '03), who acknowledges that the issue requires not only talk but action. This year, he announced PlaNYC 2030, which maps a course for how the city will absorb one million new residents over the next two decades, modernize its aging infrastructure, reduce global warming emissions, improve polluted air and brownfields, and prepare for rising sea levels.

As one of the largest property owners in New York City, NYU shares this burden and last spring accepted the mayor's challenge to reduce the university's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent—a feat we intend to accomplish by 2017. While there's much work to do, NYU is already the largest purchaser of wind energy in the city and among universities nationally, and our recently created Green Action Plan has students, alumni, employees, friends, and neighbors joining forces to improve our sustainability. We also hope to position NYU on the front line of innovative research and ideas that will help assuage our planet's impending climate and energy crises.

Climate change is so central to the university's future—indeed the planet's—that we have dedicated a double feature to it ("The Heat Is On," page 36), in which we outline the evidence that our planet is changing, our slow acceptance of the problem, what New York City and NYU are doing about it—and what you can do, too. This magazine tackles another issue being discussed in higher education circles—the state of free speech on American campuses ("Civil Wars?" page 48)—and offers an in-depth conversation with one of our most celebrated and visionary alums, filmmaker Ang Lee ("The Tao of Ang," page 54), director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, among others. I hope these stories, and others in our Fall 2007 issue, will inspire you to continue these vital social, environmental, intellectual, and artistic conversations.

—John Sexton

Photo © Matthew Septimus