Dear Chair and Commissioners:
As the Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Science and a professor of English, I thank you for the opportunity to describe some of the pressing reasons we need the space the 2031 Plan will provide our students here in Washington Square. I am sure you will hear, from a variety of perspectives, that our current footprint is inadequate to the students, faculty, and staff that make up our university, so I will only focus on what I see most every day.
We are in dire need of classroom space. I received two emails yesterday that speak directly to this point. The first was from a student:
Dear Dean Starr,
I am a Biochemistry major, class of 2014. As a soon to be junior who is also on the pre¬med track, I am required to take General Physics I and II during the Fall and Spring semesters of 2012 and 2013 respectively if I want to graduate by 2014. As it turns out, registration for General Physics I is closed due to the capacity of lab seats already being met.
I am writing this email to ask that you please allocate funding for the Physics department at NYU to open more labs, so that the students who are in a similar position as myself can be accommodated to graduate on time.
The problem for Physics (and for all of our bench sciences) is that we simply do not have the space to teach the students we have. There are hard limits on how many students may be placed in a laboratory in order to ensure safety during classes. It is terrible to have to tell our students to “wait to see” if someone withdraws from a class that is required for graduation. Things have gotten so bad that I worry that we will reach a point soon where I will have to limit the admission of qualified students in our entering class interested in the sciences because we don’t have room. More and more students are interested in pursuing STEM careers, and this is great for our universities and for the United States. But that growing proportion of students will soon mean we are up against a wall at NYU, literally. Soon, even keeping the size of our Freshman class the same, as we plan to do, we would have to turn away the growing proportion of students interested in the sciences—in the fields that are future of our country—because of the number of laboratory seats available. If we are to keep up with the needs of our students and with the needs for a workforce educated in science and technology, we have to have the space to educate them.
The problem from the perspective of students is painful; it is equally so from the perspective of faculty. I received this email last night from a Director of Undergraduate Studies in the humanities:
I've got a small handful of courses without rooms. They were either necessary late adds or simply changes (in one case we had to expand and add recitations to a course to accommodate students). We've tried Draper, Comp Lit, German, Juan Carlos, etc -- no luck. Any suggestions on how to proceed? Any secrets up your sleeve about spaces?
I have no secret spaces up my sleeve; but we have a plan to build the space we need. The College is at the right size, and we have no plans to increase in the coming years. We are simply looking to have classrooms that are suitable for teaching—for good laboratory space for the sciences, for lecture halls, for seminar rooms, and room to breathe. Having this space in the heart of our campus means that we will be able to continue the tradition of excellence that distinguishes an NYU education.
The 2031 Plan will provide this, and I urge you to grant approval for it, and thus to help us secure the future of our University.
G. Gabrielle Starr
Acting Dean, College of Arts and Sciences