The Start of Academic Year 2017-18

Date: Tuesday, September 5, 2017
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear Members of the NYU Community,
 
Welcome to you all. As we begin our classes and the business of the 2017-18 academic year, I want to touch briefly upon some of the issues that will shape the year ahead.
 
First and foremost, now and always, is our academic mission: research and teaching and learning at the highest possible level.  In support of this, the Provost's Office has begun efforts to encourage new, faculty-driven collaborations across schools on a range of topics, including the broad areas of cities, inequality, and aging -- all reflecting scholarly strength at NYU. We are continuing to support faculty efforts to secure very large research grants. And we are focusing on improving student graduation rates, which are high by national standards but remain below where I believe they could be.

Affordability has been a priority since my very first weeks as president, and it remains so. We have kept the growth in NYU's cost-of-attendance historically low. We have changed the operations of our bookstore to be able to offer lower prices.  And in the coming days, we will announce a new program -- Professional Edge -- offering courses at our School of Professional Studies to juniors and seniors, at no cost, to enhance their academic achievements with professional skills that will serve them well in the workplace.  
 
NYU's first chief diversity officer, Lisa Coleman, starts this month. Embracing the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion have seldom seemed more important than they do now, after the tragic and disturbing events in Charlottesville. Lisa will be leading our efforts to build on the work and implement the recommendations of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force (PDF). To that end, I encourage you all to participate in our first campus survey on the issues of diversity and inclusion later this fall.  And, with the White House’s decision on the DACA program expected later today, let us recommit ourselves to supporting the Dreamers and other undocumented people on our campus, and to reminding them that they are welcome and respected here.
 
In attracting students, in recruiting faculty, and in providing opportunities for research and learning, NYU's unrivaled global presence remains a source of enormous strength. We live in a century buffeted by strong global forces; in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, we prepare students to succeed in these times by valuing the perspectives and experiences of others and forging common ground out of differences. In a period of rising nationalism, these values stand out and will be essential.
 
And here in New York City, our connection to Brooklyn will be deepened later this year when the Center for Urban Science and Progress becomes the first academic program to move into 370 Jay St. That building will be a conspicuous expression of our advances in applied science and our role in fashioning how media, technology, and the arts will evolve together.
 
Lastly, I am sure that all of you have been moved by the scenes of devastation along the U.S. Gulf Coast and in India, as my wife Jennie and I have been. Even as the resumption of classes draws our minds to the business at hand, I would ask that you turn your thoughts and compassion to all those harmed by these disasters, and perhaps look for a volunteer opportunity or make a donation to help.
 
Be well. Take care of yourselves and one another. I wish you the best of good fortune with everything this year.
 
Sincerely,
Andy Hamilton