Good Morning Chair Burden and Fellow Planning Commissioners,
I am here to testify on behalf of the NYU 2031 Plan. I am Tazuko Shibusawa, Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean and Director of the MSW Program of the Silver School of Social Work at New York University.
The mission of The Silver School of Social Work at New York University is to educate professionals in a global perspective for social work practice with individuals, families, groups and communities and to provide leadership in the development of knowledge relevant to social work practice in complex urban environments. The Silver School of Social Work seeks to fulfill its mission by building and transmitting knowledge that is based on strong empirical research, and that will help to alleviate human suffering, enhance the vitality and caring capacity of our global and local communities, and promote the ideals of a humane and just world.
The Silver School of Social Work currently enrolls over 1,200 students in the Master of Social Work Program at the Washington Square campus. As with other schools and colleges at New York University, we are in desperate need for new space to fulfill our mission. This past January, one week before the beginning of the Spring 2012 semester, we did not know if we could offer all our courses because of the shortage of classrooms through the entire NYU campus. The lack of space impedes our ability to provide quality education. Our classrooms are overcrowded, and instructors have difficulty providing in-class activities that are crucial for teaching social work practice skills. We employ over 150 part-time faculty, and there is no space for adjunct instructors to conduct private meetings with our students. Collaborative activities among students are also hindered because we lack adequate space for students to gather.
The faculty of the Silver School of Social Work are committed to addressing unmet community social service needs through research and provision of clinical services. Many faculty are engaged in collaborative work with community organizations. Recently, a group of faculty conducted a needs assessment to develop a faculty practice, which will meet the needs of the members of the Greenwich Village community. The assessment pointed to a need for a consultation and referral program for seniors and their families. The faculty are preparing to develop a program, which responds to these needs. However, the faculty will need space to offer services for the community.
New York University is a global research university with over twelve international academic centers in cities including Abu Dhabi, Berlin, London, Prague, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv. The Silver School of Social Work plans to launch a Master of Social Work Program at the NYU Shanghai campus in the next few years. Our program in Shanghai will also enhance our community partnerships with Chinese American community organizations in the New York area. We will need space for video conferencing and other state-of-the art technology to launch a successful global program.
The NYU 2031 Plan will provide desperately needed additional space for the university. New York University has worked closely with the community to ensure that the Plan balances the needs of the community by building on the University's own property and not further extending into Greenwich Village. I am aware that some NYU faculty members are opposed to the expansion in Washington Square. However, I am confident that the University will continue to engage in dialogue with faculty to address their concerns.
The NYU 2031 Plan will serve the needs of the surrounding community by creating enhanced and more usable open green space and donating land for a public school. The NYU 2031 Plan has also been endorsed by a number of non-profit organizations that serve disadvantaged members of our community. The NYU 2031 Plan serves the University, the Greenwich Village community, and the City of New York. I encourage the Commission to approve NYU 2031.