Dear Alumni and Friends of the Graduate School of Arts and Science:
The Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) has just completed a memorable 125th academic year, and I am delighted to share some of the highlights.
One important objective last year was to prepare GSAS for full participation in the exciting growth of our Global Network University (GNU) as it organically connects the NYU community to the idea capitals of the world. We are working closely with the University's global team on a number of fronts, including plans for new graduate programming at our NYU sites in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. In addition, we are discovering that some of our students and faculty have vigorous research collaborations with important institutions very close to some of NYU's global sites, and we are finding useful ways to connect those activities to the GNU. One important example is a collaboration between our Biology Department and a major institution in Berlin, described in more detail in this report by the department chair, Professor Stephen Small. By formally bridging this program to the new NYU-Berlin site, and hence to the entire GNU, we expect to expand the opportunities for this research exchange and enrich our global network.
A second vital challenge announced in last year's Dean's Report was to focus much needed attention on the research accomplishments of our master's students. The Master's College Advisory Board worked very hard to plan, promote, and implement an ambitious new competition based on an Australian event known as the Three Minute Thesis, and affectionately embraced here as the GSAS Threesis Academic Challenge. In a feature article in this report, Professor Robin Nagle reviews the remarkable success of this inaugural event. We look forward to the Threesis becoming an annual capstone of the Master's College calendar.
Our third primary goal in 2010–11 was to focus attention on the importance of preparing students for successful careers, whether within academia or beyond it. Last spring, we hosted a panel discussion entitled, "What You Can Do with a Ph.D. in the Humanities," building on the success of similar previous events framed around the natural and social sciences. In addition, we are working with the deans of other graduate and professional NYU schools to expand networking opportunities for our students by promoting the idea of a campus-wide graduate community. Finally, we are delighted to announce the formation of a new GSAS Alumni Organization, which will initially be steered by a cohort of outstanding recent graduates. Alumni will share space on the GSAS website, and are encouraged to remain connected to the Graduate School.
As we advance into our 126th year, we continue to celebrate our rich history. Our website now includes pages that highlight our historical timeline. Pride in our roots has also inspired renewed focus on the identity of the Graduate School. Our school's home on Washington Square North is an extraordinary example of grand Greek Revival architecture, and is a worthy focal emblem for our community of students. Later in this report, we explain the significance of our row house. It is marvelous that our school building, and its architectural details, remain so intact. But preserving this heritage is beyond the financial resources of our school, and we look to our alumni and friends for support in this important endeavor.
Restoration of our historically important home is an important step towards reclaiming our iconic identity as a school, but it will only be successful if we embrace it together as a common community. I was reminded of this recently, when I learned that GSAS is alone among NYU schools in not having any paraphernalia for sale at the NYU bookstore. I am told that there is little demand for GSAS-labeled items, despite our current enrollment of over 5,000 students. Perhaps the explanation for this lies in the fact that our community is dispersed among so many areas of specialization. The Graduate School's curricula include more than 50 programs, with over 200 distinct fields of study, collectively offering an extraordinarily rich intellectual landscape. Yet this vast diversity of fields of study has the unintended consequence that many of our students remain focused on the depths of their own disciplines. Disciplinary mastery is a vital ingredient of graduate education, but unless our students also experience the breadth of our school, and the diversity of our community, our sense of common identity may be diminished.
This year, I hope all of you will join me in celebrating both the wonderful row house that is the physical home of our Graduate School, and the extraordinary accomplishments of our community of students. I am proud to be a part of GSAS, and I know that you are, too. Our 125th year was a great stride towards creating a closer GSAS community. Let's continue to march forward together.
Malcolm N. Semple
Acting Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Science