Testimony of Peter Blair Henry
Dean of the NYU Stern School of Business
New York University
Before the New York City Planning Commission
For the Public Hearing on The New York University Core Project
My name is Peter Blair Henry, and I am testifying in my capacity as Dean of the NYU Stern School of Business in support of the University’s 2031 plans. I want to share evidence that illustrates why NYU needs more space to continue its ascent to one of the country’s leading research universities.
The Stern School of Business, like many other NYU schools, is so space-constrained that I recently convened a faculty committee to make difficult choices among the many departments and programs that require additional space. Currently, we have to limit new class offerings, we are unable to add new sections to high demand courses, students struggle to find places to study on campus, and we find ourselves turning down thought leaders offering to speak to our students due to lack of space. Looking longer term, our space challenge threatens the essence of our mission: the role of a great school as a hub of ideas, a magnet for talent, an engine of creativity, convening point for the dialogue.
I would like to focus my remarks on the suggestion that one solution to the space needs of NYU generally, and Stern specifically, is for the Stern school to relocate to the financial district. This suggestion is neither advantageous nor advisable.
I began my tenure as Dean of NYU Stern in January 2010, committed to the fact that the world needs a new generation of business leaders who grasp the bigger picture, can think beyond traditional boundaries of a business education and understand the possibility of business - and activate it - as a force for good. Delivering on that vision rests on our ability to deepen and diversify our academic excellence and leverage of the critical areas of intersection with NYU.
Specifically, this means ensuring that our students can take classes at other NYU schools and vice versa. Today, our undergraduate students are taking 50% of their classes at other schools within NYU. At the graduate level, NYU Stern has 9 joint degree programs with other NYU schools, including the MBA/MPA with the Wagner School of Public Policy, a JD/MBA with the Law School, the MBA/MFA with the Tisch School of the Arts, and the MD/MBA program with the medical school we launched this year, among others in our portfolio. These programs and course offerings would be much more difficult for students and faculty from all over the university to navigate if NYU Stern moved to the financial district. It is in fact, programs such as these and innovations in curriculum that are fundamental to attracting the best and the brightest students and faculty to NYU. In fact, one of the factors that attracted me from Stanford was the potential I saw in the collaboration across the schools at NYU—to fulfill our promise to develop people and ideas that create value for not only business, but also society.
NYU Stern is a preeminent school with strong ties to many industries. We are known for excellence in finance, management, economics, information systems, operations management and marketing to name a few. Given these areas of strength, geographic proximity to Wall Street is not particularly relevant; rather, proximity to colleagues in similar fields at other NYU colleges, such as Arts & Sciences, the Wagner School of Public Policy, and the Law School is far more important. Being part of a vibrant, ecumenical and diverse community of scholars is what makes an institution great, and NYU Stern is no exception.
To strip the school of proximity to NYU and to encourage a perception that as a business school, our mission is to feed the pipeline to Wall Street would be misguided, and in fact, a step back for us, not a step a forward. In summary, NYU Stern should remain in the Village as part of the Washington Square Campus, enabling the free flow of students, faculty and ideas across the many intersections between NYU schools. The University’s 2031 plan is not simply about real estate but goes hand in hand with our ability to fulfill our mission as a university.