Friday, May 12, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been a tumultuous year.

Many of us have been unnerved by this year’s developments, some of which have made members of our community fearful. I appreciate the guidance, support, and protection you’ve provided to our students.

New Leadership around the University

At the same time, we’ve recruited excellent candidates for deanships and other senior positions. Lisa Coleman will join us as our Chief Diversity Officer. Phillip Brian Harper has been named the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science. Christine Poggi has been named the director of the Institute of Fine Arts. Julie Mostov will be our new dean of Liberal Studies.

Soon we’ll be able to name our new Assistant Vice President for Sustainability. Searches for the dean of the Stern School and the dean of the College of Arts and Science are well underway.

Faculty Related Matters

The University Senate’s Ad Hoc Work-Life Committee recently reported to the Senate on its work and its initial recommendations. I hope next year to establish a Work-Life Office that will focus on the needs of faculty as family members, parents, and – in many cases – residents in our faculty housing.

The Provost’s Office has also been reviewing tenure policies and assembling data from across the University to consider how the tenure process can be improved in ways that will benefit both our academic trajectory and our faculty.

Scholarship across Disciplines and Schools

This year saw ongoing effort to connect scholars across schools and disciplines, to foster new research collaborations, and to showcase NYU’s scholarly strength in certain fields or around certain themes in the following three broad areas: Urban; Inequality in its many forms, including economic, social, and racial, among others; and Aging (under the auspices of the NYU Aging Incubator).
Support for Research and Scholarly Innovation

Senior Vice Provost Cybele Raver has been leading an effort to help faculty members win “mega-grants” (awards that are $2M or larger) and improve grant management. Since September, NYU faculty members have submitted 65 such major grant proposals to federal and private funders totaling $322 million.

New Committees

While for the most part I’ve tried this year to have fewer, rather than more, committees, in some areas we were clearly lacking.

NYU, which has great potential for the display of art in outdoor spaces around the campus, has long needed a policy to guide this. I have convened a committee, chaired by Edward Sullivan, Provostial Fellow for the Arts, and with a membership that draws from units across the university that will begin work in earnest on this in the fall.

Also starting in the fall, the Provost’s Sustainability Working Group, chaired by Yanoula Athanassakis, will be a formal link between the operational and academic commitments to sustainability that are represented at the university. The aim of the working group is to measurably improve sustainability on our campus and make it an intrinsic part of our practices.

And the Provost’s Disability, Inclusion, and Accessibility Working Group, formed last fall, will continue to help develop and articulate the University’s policies in this domain in tandem with the work of the Chief Diversity Officer.

Student Related Matters

NYU’s graduation rate – 84% – compares favorably to the national average, which hovers beneath 60%. But we lag behind our peers. Improving student success has been a priority this year. MJ Knoll-Finn, the Vice President for Enrollment Management, will continue to work closely with the schools to increase retention rates, time-to-degree, and the overall student experience at NYU.

Next year, the Provost’s Office will work more closely with the Faculty Fellow in Residence program to look at ways to build stronger residential scholarly communities for the more than 11,000 undergraduates who live in residence halls.

Until Next Fall

I’m looking forward to a summer of less email, and to joining you in the fall to welcome new colleagues and students.

Wishing you a great summer,
Katherine Fleming