Dear Chair and Commissioners:
I am Richard B. Stewart, University Professor at New York University School of Law, and Faculty Director of the Hauser Global Law School Program and of the Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law. I have taught environmental, administrative and regulatory law at NYU and lived in Greenwich Village with my family for 20 years. I walk to work. Prior to joining NYU, I was on the faculty at Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government for 18 years. One of NYU's strong attractions for me was its physical location.
I wish to express my support for the University's considered process for planning for its long-term growth, both in Greenwich Village and beyond, and its general strategy for enhancing use of its current sites in the areas near Washington Square, where the Law School is located together with most of the University's other core facilities and activities. Geographical cohesiveness is central to the success of the University enterprise. The Latin root of the term "University" is "a community of teachers and scholars." Successful creation and sustenance of an academic community requires that the members—faculty, students, and administrators—of its various branches be able easily to interact with each in the regular, daily course of teaching, studying, and working. It is also highly desirable that its members, especially faculty and students, live in the same general vicinity.
In my experience, one of the key reasons for the vibrant academic growth and strong sense of community at NYU Law School and the Washington Square components of the University is the co-location of the University's facilities and the fact that a high percentage of students and faculty live relatively close by. Let me give some specific examples from my own experience.
The construction of Furman Hall, across from Vanderbilt Hall, has enabled the Law School to offer many more advanced and specialized courses. I teach between a half and a third of my courses there. Furman Hall also houses the administrative staff of the Hauser Global Law School Program that I direct; it takes only a few minutes for me to reach their Furman Hall offices from my faculty office in Vanderbilt Hall, permitting much closer and regular interaction than if the Hauser office was located at a distance. Furman Hall also has a stunning large conference/meeting room on the 9th floor. It is a stellar venue for high levels events; my academic and research programs have used it for workshops and meetings of ambassadors and high-ranking ministers from Europe and other countries and UN Missions as well as academics from elsewhere. Having this facility within the Law School complex greatly enhances our visibility and outreach; the events are generally open to and enrich our students.
Recently, the Law School performed a beautiful interior renovation of a townhouse across Washington Square from Vanderbilt Hall, at 22 Washington Square North, while carefully preserving and restoring the historic exterior. The building houses the Straus Center for The Advanced Study for Law and Justice and the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization.
Distinguished academics from around the world come as fellows at the centers for a year to research, discuss, and present their academic work. I walk across the Square attend workshops at the centers, as do my students, greatly enriching our academic experience and advancing the global orientation ofthe Law School and the University. Three years ago I was privileged to be one of the Inaugural Fellows at the Straus Center.
The Law School also recently completed an award-winning renovation of a building cross McDougal Street from the Law School to create WiIf Hall. Wilf Hall houses the School's research centers and many of its administrative offices, formerly located many blocks away down near Spring Street. The Program Director of the Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law, which I direct, has offices in WiIf Hall, making it easy for us to meet regularly, often several times a day. My programs also use rooms in Wilf for workshops with academics and officials from elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad and for meetings of research projects; students can readily attend and participate in these events.
My academic interests have a strong interdisciplinary aspect. If I want to meet with a colleague in the Biology Department, or the Politics Department, they are just across Washington Square. Many, probably a majority of the full time Law School faculty and students, live within walking distance. As a result I and my colleagues and our students can be and are at the Law School, not just 9-5, but into the evenings for classes, lectures, and other events; we are often at the School on the weekend as well.
In all of these ways, geographical cohesiveness and proximity helps build and nurture a vibrant academic community, to the great benefit of our students and the research enterprise. The University's strategic plan would secure the physical conditions for maintaining this highly successful enterprise.
Richard B. Stewart