FROM: NYU President John Sexton
DATE: Friday, May 15, 2015


Dear NYU Community Members,

As the 2014-15 academic year draws to a close, I want to briefly touch on some key topics from the year past and in the year to come.

A New President
The Board of Trustees named Andrew Hamilton, the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, as the 16th president of NYU. An outstanding scholar and educational leader, he is a superb choice to sustain NYU’s academic trajectory. And it is a testament to the great university we have built through the efforts of faculty, students, administrators, alumni, and trustees that someone of his caliber and reputation is drawn to our community. I look forward to working with him on the transition and to life as a faculty member under his leadership.

Admissions and Financial Aid
For the eighth year in a row, we had a record number of applications – for the first time topping 60,000. And we believe that we received more Early Decision applications than any other institution, for the first time surpassing Stanford. We do not complete a full analysis of the freshman class until well into the fall semester, but it appears as though the Class of 2019 will continue the trends of greater selectivity, improved academic quality of entrants, and greater ethnic and geographic diversity.

For the incoming class, NYU will award more institutional scholarship aid than ever before – over $269 million for undergraduates at the New York campus. For several years, the average grant has been increasing and debt upon graduation has been declining: over the last few years, average student debt upon graduation for NYU students has declined by over $10,000 and is lower than the national average for private not-for-profit institutions.

Since 2001, NYU has raised $1 million per day, every day, to support the work of our faculty and students, and to advance our dreams. Over the last two years, our foremost fundraising effort has been the Momentum Campaign to raise $1 billion in scholarship aid before the end of 2017. I am pleased to report that we have raised $425 million so far, and expect to surpass the halfway point by year’s end.

Faculty of Health
Over the past academic year, there have been wide-ranging discussions among multiple groups – faculty, deans, and Senate councils and committees – about realigning health faculty and programs in order to strengthen NYU’s teaching, research, innovation, and prominence in the health fields. In April, the Senate expressed unanimous support for the proposed health realignment, which includes the creation of a College of Global Public Health; establishing the College of Nursing as a college that is no longer part of the College of Dentistry; and the creation of a Faculty of Health that would over-arch the Colleges of Dentistry, Nursing, and Global Public Health. The Trustees will take up the matter next month, and, if approved by the Trustees, we should launch the new Faculty of Health next year.

Fossil Fuel Divestment
The issue of climate change has been at the forefront of the global and national agenda, as well as NYU’s. Fossil fuel divestment was a significant focus of the University Senate’s attention this year. At the May meeting, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure presented by the Student Senators Council that recommends the University cease any new investments in fossil-fuel-related companies, grandfather any current fossil-fuel-related investments, and prepare a report on options for future investing in companies committed to mitigating the effects of burning fossil fuels. This will now proceed for consideration by the Board of Trustees.

Space and Facilities
This year saw a continuation of our decade-long effort to enhance the University’s facilities. Some highlights include:

  • We opened a new facility at 433 1st Ave. that will serve as the home for the College of Nursing, provide additional space for the College of Dentistry, and house the School of Engineering’s program in bio-engineering.
  • Work has proceeded to create new laboratory space for the Physics Department in 726 Broadway; this will, in turn, free up additional space in Meyer for the Center for Neural Science.
  • The planning for the University’s new building on the Coles site continued:
    • We selected an architectural team to design the structure to be built on the Coles site;
    • We began work on 404 Lafayette to make it ready to provide recreational and fitness facilities while the Coles site is under construction;
      We began replacing windows in Washington Square Village to help reduce exterior noise and keep residents warmer in winter;
    • Following a unanimous ruling in favor of NYU by the Appellate Division in October 2014, the Court of Appeals – New York’s highest court – is scheduled to hear arguments in June in a case brought by opponents of the project.
    •  Work began this year on 370 Jay St. in Brooklyn, which will – among other uses – be the home for the Center for Urban Science and Progress.

Nardello Report
Nardello & Co., a leading international investigations firm that was retained to look into media and NGO reports of violations of the labor standards we set for NYU Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island campus, released its report last month. This summer, Tamkeen, NYU's Abu Dhabi partner, will issue an RFP to bring on a third party that will manage payments to those workers not covered by the compliance-monitoring program to bring their compensation into line with the project’s labor standards.

Budget Parameters for 2015-2016
Based on our consultations over the past year with the Tenured / Tenure Track Faculty Senators Council, the Full-Time Non-Tenure Track / Contract Faculty Senators Council, the Administrative Management Council, and the Student Senators Council through the Senate Financial Affairs Committee, the Deans, and the senior administrative leadership of the University, we will recommend to the Board of Trustees the following budget parameters:

Undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board - For the 2015-16 academic year, we have budgeted an increase of 3.4% in undergraduate tuition and mandatory university fees at most schools. The average price increase for rooms in our residence halls and meal plans in our dining facilities will be 3.5%.

Financial Aid – Funding for undergraduate financial aid will increase by 6.5%. In addition, fully funded graduate students will continue to receive full tuition remission; have premiums for their graduate health care plan paid by the University at 100%; and have their minimum stipend increased by 2%.

Salary actions for faculty and for administrators – The Annual Merit Increase (AMI) pool is budgeted to increase by 2.5% for merit-based increases for faculty and administrators for academic year 2015-16. For administrators, as in the past, there will be a pool equal to 0.5% of the salary base for annual and “spot” bonuses for particularly meritorious performance.

To our students: good luck with finals and your other end-of-year work. I know it can be a stressful time. I won’t tell you not to study hard – it is what has gotten you to this point in your life – but I will urge you to try to approach your work with some notion of balance, to be gentle with yourselves even as you strive for excellence, to be forgiving to yourself if you do stumble, and to bear in mind that there are many people available to help you.

To our faculty: thank you for your hard work, for your leadership, for your professional dedication to our students’ education, for your contributions to your field, and for upholding our values and academic principles.

To our administrators and staff: your devotion to NYU is a constant inspiration to me. For doing so much to make possible the research and the teaching and learning that take place every day here at NYU, you have my deep gratitude.

To all those who will be returning to the NYU community next fall: have a great summer. I look forward to reconvening with you all in September 2015.

Lastly, to our graduates: graduation is always a time of complex feelings, for you and for us faculty. We are proud of your hard work and accomplishments, to be sure, but we will miss you. Like you, I am counting down my time – you as students, I as president. I just hope that you will keep NYU in your hearts, as you will be in mine, and that you will keep in touch with us, sharing not just your triumphs – about which we shall be glad to hear – but your challenges, too. Know that you are always welcome here.


John Sexton