Summary of December 2020 Board of Trustees Meeting
On the recommendation of the President, the Board elected Aisha Oliver-Staley as Secretary and General Counsel of the University beginning January 4, 2021.
Other Action Items
To honor members of the NYU community who died during the last academic year, the Board resolved that the names of those recognized in the University’s In Memoriam listing would be appended to the minutes of the meeting. To honor long-serving members of the University community, the Board resolved that the names of those who received 25-year Service Citations would be appended to the minutes. The Board also extended their deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of John J. Creedon and Sheldon Solow, previous Board members.
The Board established the Jim G. Hendrick, M.D. Professorship in Pediatrics at the Grossman School of Medicine (GSOM).
Having been previously approved by the GSOM Faculty Council and the GSOM Advisory Board, the Board approved a proposed amendment to the NYU Faculty Handbook, solely applicable to the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
Select Committee Reports
- The Academic Affairs Committee highlighted the need for further inquiry into the student experience as to negative impacts on student mental health related to the pandemic and the steps the University was taking to address this. The Committee also reported on projects being undertaken at the Marron Institute and the University’s college-in-prison program.
- The Alumni Affairs and University Life Committee reported that, by taking a variety of proactive steps, the University successfully implemented a semester that blended in-person and remote classroom experiences without any significant outbreaks. With respect to mental health services for students, the Committee described several initiatives and programs implemented or enhanced by the University. The Committee also reported on successes related to a number of prestigious national and international fellowship awards. It highlighted Parents Weekend as being a success with over 10,000 registrants, 5,000 attendees and 80 departments participating.
- The Audit and Compliance Committee reported on the University’s activities to address various risks including potential IT vulnerabilities caused by cyber threats and phishing attacks, both of which have increased in higher education. On the recommendation of the Audit and Compliance Committee, the Board accepted the Report of the Independent Auditors and New York University Consolidated Financial Statements for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2020, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and adopted the amended Conflicts of Interest Policy for Trustees, Officers, and Senior Administrators.
- The Development Committee reported on the amount the University had raised in the year. The Committee updated the Board regarding the progress of the Development Committee Working Groups, namely, the Financial Aid Working Group, the 181 Mercer Working Group, and the Next Generation Working Group. The Committee also reported on alumni participation rates.
- The Facilities and Real Estate Committee provided a summary of the University’s largest projects, including 181 Mercer Street, the ongoing expansion at the co-generation plant, and the nearly-complete construction at both 370 Jay Street and 404 Lafayette Street.
- The Finance Committee reported that the cash operating margin was better than budget and in line with FY19 despite revenue being 3% below budget. In addition, these results were achieved without broad-based furloughs or salary reductions, and without impact on contributions to the University’s 403(b) plan. A presentation was made to the Committee estimating a $255 million COVID-19 impact on the FY21 budget. On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Board authorized the University to enter into a Royal Bank of Canada Line of Credit for a two-year term.
- The Global Initiatives Committee thanked leadership on the success of the “Go Local” initiative, which was instrumental to the University’s retention and resilience efforts during the past year. Approximately 2,800 undergraduates and 700 graduate students participated in Go Local programs in fall 2020, with the greatest number participating from Shanghai.
- The Investment Committee reported that it approved two new commitments and that the endowment continued to perform strongly.
- The Committee on Online Education and Technology reported on the University’s work that allowed NYU to pivot to remote learning and blended delivery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University kept students informed and interested in returning to campus notwithstanding remote and blended delivery of courses.
Other Reports and Updates
The Board received an update on the development and impending rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines as well as an update on the status of COVID-19 patients in the NYU Langone Health system.
The Board also received an update on research at the University, including NYU’s High Performance Supercomputer, which is 1,000 times faster than NYU’s 2005 computer and will expand research across a wide range of disciplines. The University implemented various strategies to expand the University’s research portfolios as well as increase the number of faculty with active funding portfolios. Other notable achievements in research included increased interest in a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. During the pandemic, essential research never stopped, and faculty redirected their efforts by forming a COVID-19 working group to alleviate the impact of the pandemic.
The Chair congratulated Mr. Terrance Nolan on his impending retirement and thanked him for his dedication and outstanding work as the University’s General Counsel. The Chair thanked and congratulated the members of the University’s leadership team for their outstanding stewardship during this difficult time and for the health and safety structure put into place to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19. The Board also received a report on the joint meetings of the Chair and various other Trustees with members of the University Senate Councils.
President Hamilton expressed his gratitude to the University’s COVID-19 response team and his pride in the University’s steadfast strategy in the face of the local and state policy swings. He reported that the University had made the decision to eliminate spring break in an effort to mitigate the potential for travel-related transmission of COVID-19 and instituted additional days off throughout the semester. With respect to enrollment, the University enrolled its most diverse class in 2020. In addition, the fall 2020 enrollment was the University’s highest quality class with a median SAT score of 1420 and a median ACT score of 33.
President Hamilton thanked senior leadership for implementing mitigation measures at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic that enabled the University to end the year with funds which would be used, in part, to fund COVID-related NYU Returns expenses on a going-forward basis. With respect to academic innovation, President Hamilton said the University’s pivot to remote learning was nothing short of remarkable. President Hamilton noted that NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai were critical to the success of the University in its COVID-related response and did extraordinarily well despite their own respective local challenges. Finally, President Hamilton addressed the post-pandemic opportunities available to the University including innovations in teaching, additional mechanisms for the delivery of education, and changes in the way the University uses its real estate.