Testimony of Geeta Menon
Dean of the Undergraduate College
Abraham Krasnoff Professor of Global Business &
Professor of Marketing
Stern School of Business
New York University
April 24, 2012
Dear Chair and Commissioners:
I am writing to voice my support for New York University’s proposed expansion plan. As the Dean of the Stern School of Business Undergraduate College, I can attest to the critical need we have to increase our usable academic and communal space. I am going to illustrate my concerns in this regard through a few key examples:
- We currently enroll 2400 undergraduates at Stern, and have no option to grow our student body despite attracting record numbers of applications from some of the brightest students in the world. With the wonderful ideas for innovation that we are able to generate, we are currently feeling the constraints of space, and the inability to be completely competitive with our peer schools because of this constraint. For example, one of our most recent academic innovations, the B.S. in Business and Political Economy, has registered a record number of applications, but we are forced to restrict the size of the incoming class due to space constraints.
- Once students reach campus, our very mission toward academic excellence and innovation is challenged by our physical environment. For example, we run a required freshman year course on social issues and public policy, which consists of one plenary session and two recitation session per week. The course provides students with important building blocks for written, verbal and critical thinking skills. This course has been recognized as a new and innovative way of teaching these skills by leading academics, including acknowledgement in the book Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education by senior researchers at the Carnegie Foundation. Sadly, we are unable to do more classes like these because each year we must negotiate for space in the one place on the NYU campus that can accommodate large groups; the space is not a formal classroom, but an auditorium in which theatrical performances, not academic courses, are primarily held.
- We are also challenged in our ability to add new sections to high-demand courses during course registration. Many times, once we have found adequate classroom space, it is too late in the semester to even offer the opportunity to students, so they must go without the course. This affects not only undergraduate business students, but students from across NYU who want to register for business courses.
- While we are working hard to find space in which to teach our classes, our students are vying to find a place to study on campus. Though the Stern School recently added a floor of student study and community space through renovations in our existing building, students are still challenged to find space that meets all of their needs in a curriculum that necessitates group and individual study.
These are only a few examples of situations in which we have been constrained by our physical space. Stern needs additional classroom and study space in all sizes to continue to meet our students’ needs, and this need will only continue to grow. It would allow us the flexibility to be creative in how and when we can educate our incredibly bright, hardworking students; students who expect and deserve nothing but academic excellence from us. If this need is not met, we will not be able to deliver even the most basic of classroom experiences, and it will be our students who will pay the price in the end.
While, there may be space available elsewhere in New York City and the Boroughs, I cannot stress enough how detrimental a move outside of Washington Square would be to the Stern undergraduate experience. From the simple act of attending classes outside of Stern (which is at least 50 percent of the time given the number of classes that our students are required to take in the liberal arts) to utilizing campus resources like career or tutoring services, students must have reasonable access to Washington Square. Beyond students’ academic life, if you relocate them away from the heart of NYU, you remove any semblance of connection to the NYU community, and to the Stern community that we have worked very hard to nurture and foster over the years.
The Stern School is one of the top-ranked institutions worldwide for an undergraduate business degree. As we continue our upward trajectory along with NYU, we will be constrained by our growing need for space. Without more of it, we will not be able to innovate to attract the best and brightest students, faculty and administrators.
Members of the NYU community are also members of the Greenwich Village and greater New York communities. I believe that NYU’s expansion plan is a very reasonable step in the direction of ensuring that all of our communities – together – are able to prosper.