NYU today announced the launch of the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment, an ambitious new initiative made possible by a generous gift of $40 million by Donald B. Marron, an entrepreneur, successful businessman, and philanthropist who was previously chairman of Paine Webber and is the Founder and current Chairman of Lightyear Capital.

NYU Launches Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment
The Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment is an ambitious new initiative made possible by a generous gift of $40 million by Donald B. Marron, an entrepreneur, successful businessman, and philanthropist who was previously chairman of Paine Webber and is the Founder and current Chairman of Lightyear Capital. The Marron Institute will be the hub for work on cities and the urban environment at NYU. ©iStockPhoto/fotoVoyager

Richard Revesz to Lead New Institute

The Marron Institute will be the hub for work on cities and the urban environment at NYU. It will sponsor significant interdisciplinary research, develop curricular initiatives, provide a vibrant academic community for scholars and students, and help cities around the world become more livable, sustainable, and equitable.

Mr. Marron was joined by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, NYU President John Sexton, and Marron Institute Director Richard Revesz on NYU’s campus to make the announcement.

“Don Marron has given a tremendous amount to make his hometown a better place, so it’s fitting that this institute – which I know will do a tremendous amount to build a strong future not only for New York but for all the world’s cities – should bear his name,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Making sure that cities remain centers of innovation and learning is key to our future.”

“For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. There is no doubt that cities are fundamental to our global future, and there is no doubt that NYU -- based in the heart of the greatest urban laboratory on the planet -- should be the global leader in the study of cities,” said NYU President John Sexton. “Cities are more than just infrastructure and technology; they are also social interactions, culture, and neighborhoods. NYU is home to internationally distinguished scholars in a wide range of disciplines crucial to understanding cities: applied sciences and technology, sociology, economics, the law, history, environmental sustainability, and policy and planning. And our global network offers unprecedented academic connections to some of the most compelling and complex cities in the world. What Don Marron’s gift does is to knit together the outstanding research already underway in so many disciplines, and provide us with the resources to foster new cutting edge approaches to the teaching of cities and the urban environment.”

As a lifelong resident of the world’s leading city, an entrepreneur and international business leader, and an active director of several institutions critical to New York City’s civic infrastructure, Donald B. Marron’s passion for critical and innovative thinking about the pivotal role cities play in our global society is perfectly matched to NYU’s Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment’s mission. Mr. Marron serves on the boards of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, New York University, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Center for Strategic International Studies and is actively involved with the Coalition for the Homeless.

“Cities are fundamentally places of opportunity, attracting and cultivating some of the most talented people in business, art, health, education and government while serving as centers of job creation, cultural change and a home to millions,” said Mr. Marron. “Yet for all cities offer our global society, much can be done to improve how these urban centers function and provide for their residents. This is what has me so excited about the opportunity for this Institute and the role it can play in shaping cities over the next millennium and beyond. Our goal is to produce research to shed light on critical challenges, graduates trained to immediately tackle real-world problems, and a central forum to foster critical thinking and collaborative work.”

Mr. Marron is currently the Chairman of Lightyear Capital LLC, a New York-based private equity firm focused on financial services investing. Prior to founding Lightyear Capital, Mr. Marron served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paine Webber Group Inc. for twenty years, from 1980-2000. During his 20-year tenure as CEO, PaineWebber grew into one of the nation’s five largest full-service securities firms. The combination of UBS and PaineWebber made UBS the world’s largest wealth manager. In addition to his four decades of leadership as an executive, Mr. Marron has also distinguished himself as an entrepreneur. In 1969, he co-founded Data Resources Inc. ("DRI") with Harvard economist Dr. Otto Eckstein. DRI became the largest non-governmental source of economic data in the world.

As Chairman of the Institute’s Advisory Board, Mr. Marron will work to connect the Institute with the world’s urban decision makers to help put faculty research into action and ensure that the Institute is aware of the most current urban challenges.

Richard Revesz, currently Dean of NYU’s School of Law and a leading expert on environmental and regulatory law and policy, has been spearheading the development of the institute for more than a year, and will lead it in its next phase. He will work with faculty to identify new ways to bolster NYU’s research and teaching on cities, and to use NYU’s expertise to influence and inform international policy debates on the future of the urban environment.

“Rapid urbanization, and particularly the challenges and opportunities it poses for the natural environment, must prompt a rethinking of higher education’s role in the research and teaching of cities,” commented Dean Richard Revesz. “The Marron Institute is a tremendous opportunity to do just that, and I am thrilled to work on this exciting new effort. The Institute will explore the intersecting issues cities face through an unprecedented University-wide lens and promote cross-cutting research and teaching on the urban environment.”

Revesz, who will step down as Dean of NYU Law School on May 31 after 11 years in the position, holds degrees from Princeton, MIT, and Yale, and was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He joined the faculty of the NYU School of Law in 1985, and was named dean in 2002. A hallmark of his leadership at the Law School has been his effectiveness at fostering greater cooperation among both faculty and students across schools and disciplines. Two examples include: the significant growth of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy (a joint center run between the Law School and the Wagner School of Public Service), which was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2012; and the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership in Law and Business Program, a partnership of the Law School and the Stern School of Business that now offers a series of jointly-taught transaction courses for J.D. and M.B.A. students. Revesz will remain a tenured member of the Law School’s faculty.

The Marron Institute will advance NYU’s research and teaching on key issues facing cities and the urban environment around the globe. First, the Institute will bring together the University’s diverse network of scholars and research centers, advancing a unique multidisciplinary approach to urban questions that draws from the fields of public health, environmental and land use law, energy economics, social policy, history, urban planning, and urban systems, informatics, and engineering. The Institute will sponsor fellowships, colloquia, events and multidisciplinary research, including the awarding of significant research grants. Second, using this multidisciplinary lens, the Institute will support new approaches to teaching about cities, designed to produce graduates who will think holistically about the challenges facing urban environments and have the tools to effectively manage the cities of the future. To this end, a faculty committee is now exploring a range of curricular opportunities at the undergraduate level. The Institute will also connect its research and expertise with policymakers in cities around the globe, helping to shape practical policy solutions to a range of urban challenges.

The Marron Institute will bring together three existing pivotal institutions at NYU: the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and its degree programs, led by Professor Steven Koonin; the Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), led by Professor Eric Klinenberg; and the Urbanization Project (UP), led by Professor Paul Romer. CUSP – which is based in Downtown Brooklyn near the NYU-Poly campus – was one of the designated research centers under Mayor Bloomberg’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative; it will advance the discipline of urban informatics; collect, integrate, and analyze data to improve urban systems; and create tech-related businesses and jobs. Recently, CUSP announced a new M.S. degree in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. IPK was launched in 2007 to advance public debate and knowledge on critical social issues, and it has developed unique collaborations among urban social science researchers in New York and around the world. Finally, Stern’s Urbanization Project performs pioneering research on urban expansion and the development of charter cities. The Marron Institute will connect these and other centers across the University to build a stronger more cohesive interdisciplinary research community.

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