John Sexton is President Emeritus, the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law and NYU Law School's Dean Emeritus, having served as Dean for 14 years. He joined the Law School's faculty in 1981, and was named the School's Dean in 1988 and served until 2002. He was named the University's President in 2001, and served until January 2016.
He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is past Chair of the American Council on Education, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (2003-2006) and Chair of the Federal Reserve Systems Council of Chairs (2006).
He served as a Board Member for the National Association of Securities Dealers (1996-1998), and was Founding Chair of the Board of NASD Dispute Resolution (2000-2002). He also serves on the Board of the Institute of International Education. While Dean of the Law School, he was President of the Association of American Law Schools.
President Sexton received a B.A. in History (1963) from Fordham College; an M.A. in Comparative Religion (1965) and a Ph.D. in History of American Religion (1978) Fordham University; and a J.D. magna cum laude (1979) from Harvard Law School.
He is an author of the nation’s leading casebook on Civil Procedure. He also is the author of Redefining the Supreme Court's Role: A Theory of Managing the Federal Court System (a treatment of the Supreme Court's case selection process) in addition to several other books, numerous chapters, articles and Supreme Court briefs.
His latest book is Standing for Reason. His 2013 book, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, published in March 2013, is based on an undergraduate seminar President Sexton teaches at NYU each spring and was a New York Times bestseller. He holds honorary degrees from 22 universities.
The student editors of NYU's Annual Survey of American Law dedicated their Volume 60 in his honor. He was named by Emory University "Outstanding High School Debate Coach of the Last 50 Years" for work he did from 1960-1975. He has been honored at the Harvard Law Review Annual Banquet, and has been named "Alumnus of the Year" both at Fordham and at his high school, Brooklyn Prep. In July 2008 he was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the national order of the Legion of Honor of France. In 2012, he received the NASPA President’s Award, which is given annually to a college or university leader who has, over a sustained period of time, advanced the quality of student life on campus by supporting student affairs staff and programs. In March 2015, he received the TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence, recognizing outstanding leadership on the part of a college or university president or chancellor. In 2016, Commonweal Magazine named him as its "Catholic in the Public Square," and in 2010 TIME Magazine named him as one of the nation's top ten university presidents.
Before coming to NYU, President Sexton served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger of the United States Supreme Court (1980-1981), and to Judges David Bazelon and Harold Leventhal of the United States Court of Appeals (1979-1980). For ten years (1983-1993), he served as Special Master Supervising Pretrial Proceedings in the Love Canal Litigation. From 1966 - 1975, he was a Professor of Religion at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, where he was Department Chair from 1970-1975.