Date:   February 16, 2023
To:       The NYU Community
From:  Linda G. Mills

It is a tremendous honor to write to you today as the President-Designate of NYU. I am humbled by the trust the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees have placed in me, and I am thrilled to be in conversation with all of you. I look forward to writing our University’s next chapter together.

One of the wonderful things about NYU is that even after dedicating 24 years of my life to this extraordinary community and knowing it very well, there is always more to discover. I am eager to meet so many more of the remarkable people that make up our global network, to hear your stories, projects, and discoveries. I’m approaching these new challenges as I do my scholarly work—with curiosity, rigor, and the ability to listen. I intend to step into this new role with fresh eyes, excited to see NYU and all its possibilities through a kaleidoscope of unique perspectives brought together in constantly changing configurations.

In 1831, our founders set out to create a new kind of university, one that matched the growing city's dynamism and demands. It was a university designed to be different: more democratic, metropolitan, enterprising, practical. Open to all and well-attuned to New York’s immigrant heritage. This quintessentially urban story remains at our heart. We are diverse, bold, and innovative. We don’t take conventional wisdom for granted. We ask big questions. We forge ahead.

Nearly two hundred years later, our sheer size and breadth—15 global locations and 19 schools in New York City—and the unparalleled diversity of our worldwide community give us power to influence the course of history every day. From the arts and humanities to the social and natural sciences; medicine, dentistry, and nursing to public health and public service; education to engineering; business and law to social work, media, and professional studies, we push out the limits of knowledge, expand human understanding, and make meaningful contributions to solving the world’s most vexing challenges.

Still, I know that there is so much more potential to unlock within NYU. For many years, I have participated in conversations that cross institutional boundaries and bring people together in new combinations and for new endeavors, generating creative solutions to difficult problems. We need to cultivate and support these productive interactions across our schools, disciplines, and locations—to help our faculty, researchers, staff, and students take full advantage of the resources and the network of ideas that only NYU can offer.

I also recognize that we are a community that is hurting. Three years after the pandemic upended our world, we are only beginning to understand the traumatic effects it has had on us all. In the United States and elsewhere, we are struggling to address persistent inequalities and discrimination, whether based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, or other factors. Hate crimes are on the rise, and we are witnessing political divides reminiscent of some of the most difficult periods in our history. The pace and scope of climate change and the constant threat of gun violence can feel overwhelming. The devastation of wars and natural disasters, including the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, overshadow our lives.

A strong sense of community, of shared purpose, of feeling seen and heard—these are assets that will be essential as we navigate the years ahead. I will work hard to foster trust, both in each other and in the institution we collectively inhabit and define. In that spirit, I want to invite all of you into a university-wide conversation, starting today:

  • How might we continue to strengthen and advance NYU’s academic trajectory?
  • How might we create and sustain a fully inclusive community where everyone can thrive?
  • How might we maximize our potential to change society for the better?

Please click here to share with me how you might answer these questions or pose others.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be visiting academic and administrative units around the university, and I also look forward to learning more from the 2024 NYU Self-Study currently underway to support our re-accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This moment of transition is an opportunity to engage with one another in open dialogue, with the common purpose of ensuring that NYU is an exemplary place to study and work as we approach our bicentennial and beyond. When we gather in the fall, we will be poised for action.

For today, I am filled with enthusiasm, emotion, and, most of all, gratitude for everything that all of you bring to this community.