Testimony of Robert Boland
Academic Chair of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for
Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management
New York University
Before the New York City Planning Commission
For the Public Hearing on The New York University Core Project
My name is Robert Boland. I am the Academic Chair of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management (Tisch Center) at New York University (NYU), where I am also professor of sports management and sports law.
The Tisch Center, is an extraordinary academic unit of 600 undergraduate and professional masters degree students. Housed in NYU’s School of Continuing Educational and Professional Studies (SCPS) which is NYU’s divisional incubator for innovative and aspirational learning, the Tisch Center is named for the late Preston Robert “Bob” Tisch, a quintessential New Yorker. Mr. Tisch was the chairman of the Loews Corporation and Loews Hotels, a leader who was critical in the creation of a permanent tourism authority for New York and the “I Love New York” tourism campaign which helped reinvigorate the tourism sector during the 1970s and co-owner of the beloved New York Giants. The Tisch Center embraces the three areas of study which defined Mr. Tisch’s life: hospitality- hotels and restaurants; tourism and sports. Each of these fields is so interconnected with New York that it is impossible to imagine New York without immediately thinking of its iconic hotels, its extraordinary range of restaurants, the more than 50 million visitors it welcomes annually or its beloved sports teams and fabled venues.
Each of these sectors is a key driver of economic activity, development and jobs that makes New York one of the planet’s truly global cities. But there is more to the life of a city than mere economics. There is the well-being of its citizens, its soul and its investment in its future. This is why I am pleased to voice my support of NYU’s 2031 development plan as it will help secure the future of New York University as a global leader and will in turn help secure the future of our city as the global city.
There is much thought that great cities have a finite life-cycle. Lisbon, Amsterdam, Vienna and Berlin have each vied for this position on the global stage in the past. Boston, Charleston and Philadelphia each took a turn as the leading city of United States only to be surpassed by New York and its constant propensity for reinvention throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. NYU has been since 1831 a part of that story. However, reinvention is costly and requires will. London, one of New York’s few global peers, is spending an estimated £18 billion British Pounds- close to $30 billion U.S. dollars- to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. I recently, had the opportunity to visit London to examine these preparations. The words “opportunity” and “legacy” were the two I most heard in describing this massive undertaking. The Olympic Games represent an opportunity to recreate, establish and leave physical, economic and social legacies that have the potential to benefit London for decades to come. By way of analogy, NYU 2031, offers NYU a similar opportunity to make both crucial and carefully planned reinvestment in its future and secure a legacy of excellence that will benefit not only its students, faculty and alumni but also its neighbors and our global city.
Any business or institution in New York must find inventive ways of managing limitations and NYU’s creativity, in not only living with but thriving within its physical limitations, is a great part of the University’s historical success. Its innovation of the global network university, with 14 interconnected sites around the world and two portal campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, which honors the international nature of its home in New York City and embraces an increasingly global world but it was also necessitated, at least in part, as a solution to the problems caused by physical limitations on the Washington Square campus, is just the best example of this ingenuity. It is the excitement and promise of the global network university, along with NYU’s recognition of the importance of my discipline of sports and its continued faith in me as an educator, that make me proudest of my association with NYU and in choosing an academic career a decade ago after previously working in law, government and sports.
However, in order to maintain its position of leadership in the world, in having classroom space to create and house cutting-edge classes, laboratories and spaces that provide developmental experiences and reflect the ever changing needs of the city and the aspirations of its people, NYU must grow. The ability to recruit faculty and graduate students to advance our cause is currently limited by a lack space for them to teach, work and conduct research. Our ability to meet the needs of our students- especially the many working professionals who pursue degrees which propel not only their careers but all of us forward- to schedule classes around work and family commitments is stressed by our relative paucity of physical space. It is the single greatest burden on my creativity as an administrator and educator and it has become an area increasing concern and limitation.
NYU is no ivory tower. NYU is as gritty and real a place as is the city that gives it its name and lifeblood. Like all my colleagues who have chosen NYU, I know that I will always have to do more with less, in terms of space and amenities, than my peers at Wharton, Cornell or USC. It is the creative challenge of New York and the price we all gladly pay in exchange for our location in New York City and the extraordinary endowment of opportunities that we derive as a result. In this sense NYU 2031 while a comprehensive plan for sustainable growth, it is also a realistic one- that is both measured and critically needed. It takes into account plans for mitigation and community impact and consolidates for greater efficiency, rather than expanding, areas already owned by and in current use by the University. It has been developed in conjunction with community stakeholders and is the product of openness, revision and listening.
No plan will please everyone in all its elements. Neither will a plan as far-sighted as this one is be realized in all of its planned dimensions. But given a clear need and definable opportunities and legacies and that this process was begun in a spirit of cooperation and been conducted with a sense of responsibility to all potential stakeholders are all compelling arguments for supporting NYU’s 2031 development plan. To strive toward a greater future, reaching upward in spirit is so innate in the DNA of all New Yorkers, by birth, choice or in spirit that it is our state’s motto and why E.B. White called New York, “a city of incomparable achievement.”
Robert Boland, JD
Academic Chair &
Associate Clinical Professor