Our NYU: January 2019
A Note from President Hamilton
It will be 58 years ago next Monday that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited NYU’s Heights campus and delivered his famous “Future of Integration” speech. It is a well-known one, and started with a comprehensive history of racism in America. While he noted just how far we’d come since the days of slavery, the bulk of the oratory is devoted to emphasizing just how much work still needed to be done. It ended with a challenge to us all to keep striving toward the goal of equal rights for all, however frustrating or difficult that path might be. And, here at NYU, we continue to embrace this challenge.
MLK’s visit is a point of pride for NYU, and the reason why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy not on the national holiday, but over the course of more than a week in February. This year once again we have a lively calendar of events, kicking off Friday, February 1, with the Afro Arts Showcase at the Kimmel Center and appropriately concluding with a University-wide day of service on Saturday, February 9.
In collectively exploring and honoring Martin Luther King’s legacy, it is natural that we would also assess the ways in which we can do better in promoting inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity (IDBE) efforts here at NYU throughout the year. Our Being@NYU campus assessment has provided us with a large amount of data about the level of inclusion various groups feel here on campus, and we are excited to work with the community as we explore these data. Lisa Coleman and her team at the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation are concurrently lining up resources and working with school and other university partners to implement the changes we’ll need to make in the future.
Dr. King’s message reminds us that the advancement of social justice isn’t linear or assured, but requires constant, concerted, courageous effort: “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.... This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Having said that, I also share his optimism in making the assertion that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
So to all the students returning to campus from break—I can’t imagine a better theme to embrace as we welcome you back into the joys and rigors of university life. This is why we study, this is why we teach, this is why we learn, this is why we sacrifice— for nothing less than the ultimate goal of building a better, safer, healthier, kinder, and more just and equitable world.
Our campus will be hosting many special events throughout Black History Month, including exhibitions, discussions, performances, and screenings, but NYU's official MLK Week runs from February 4 through February 9. The highlight will be on Thursday, February 7, when we host writer, editor, and culture critic Roxane Gay, in conversation with other special guests.
When it comes to embracing diversity, NYU Shanghai is a model for us all. Freshman roommate pairings ensure Chinese nationals are matched with international students, mandating cultural immersion on both sides from day one—and with surprisingly wonderful results.
Steinhardt’s Faculty First Look Scholars Program has taken a proactive approach to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities on faculty by reaching out to candidates one to two years before they even begin their job search. Candidates who come to NYU receive travel and lodging support as well as skills development coaching and mentoring.
The College of Dentistry's innovative and free Saturday Academy seeks to promote diversity and inclusion in the next generation of dentists by introducing underrepresented minorities to the profession early. Select high school students participate in hands-on activities while simultaneously preparing for the college application process.
We may not be able to rid the world of bias, but Stern professor Dolly Chugh’s research intersecting the fields of psychology, sociology, economics, and political science provides us with valuable tools to confront sexism, racism, inequality, and injustice when we encounter it.
A recent study by Global Public Health’s Bernadette Boden-Albala shows taking diversity into account can help us treat diseases more effectively. A culturally tailored program used when discharging stroke patients from the hospital was shown to lower blood pressure among Hispanic individuals one year later.
It was quite a point of pride for us at NYU to see that our very own Tisch Drama alumna Brittney Johnson made history this month by becoming Broadway’s first Glinda of color in the hit musical Wicked.
Another first for NYU—Lipton Hall now has the distinction of having the first 100 percent certified halal dining hall. Lipton Hall embraced an all-halal menu just this last Sunday.
There are many in our community who work tirelessly to make NYU a more inclusive place to work as well as study, so it’s heartening to see that we’ve made the Forbes Top Employers for Diversity 2019—the only New York City educational institution to be included in the top 100.
The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising—which occurred just a few hundred yards away from NYU’s campus—has inspired a wide range of discussions, performances, exhibitions, and other events both on and off campus in the coming months. NYU’s Stonewall at 50 events series kicks off on February 11 with Beyond Stonewall: Vital Voices in American Playwriting.
And after a long break, during which the streets got just a bit too quiet, it was wonderful to welcome students and their families to campus. Wishing you all a wonderful start to the spring semester!