To the new students, faculty, administrators, and staff who are joining the NYU community this fall - a warm welcome. It's been a pleasure to meet many of you over the past week or so, and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming weeks and months. Your energy and enthusiasm for our University provide a wonderful lift to our collective spirits at the start of a new academic year.

And to those many members of the community who are returning after a summer break - a warm welcome back. Our newest arrivals will look to your experience, wisdom, and generosity of spirit as they become part of our culture.

As we begin the academic year, I would like to highlight some noteworthy developments that have occurred since Commencement and to note for you some priorities we hope to pursue in the fall semester.

Middle States Accreditation: The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has reaffirmed NYU's accreditation and commended us on the quality of our self-study report and process. We will follow up on the recommendations and suggestions of the self-study and the evaluation team.

Representation for Contract Faculty: Following the vote of the University Senate in April, the Trustees changed the University Bylaws to provide for representation for non-tenure-track full-time contract faculty in the Senate.

The Global Network:
• The Faculty Advisory Committee on the University's Global Network issued its final report in June, which made recommendations to the Provost and me for improvements to NYU's Global Network, including recommendations for how best to integrate the global sites and portals with schools and programs in New York and with one another.
• The Site Specific Advisory Committees are also continuing their efforts to review and enhance curricular and co-curricular activities at the global sites.
• NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai move into their permanent facilities this fall.
• And with respect to NYU Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat campus: in June, our Abu Dhabi partners appointed Nardello & Co. - a leading international investigation firm headquartered in New York and led by Daniel Nardello, a former US federal prosecutor - to conduct a review of the allegations in media reports regarding compliance with labor standards in the construction of the campus. The report is expected to be completed and released before the end of the year.

Learning Technology: The Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-enhanced Education at NYU issued its final report in July.

Financial Aid: The University announced the start of two new financial aid initiatives last year. Some 2,600 undergraduates who completed their degrees in 2013-14 were recipients of the Finish Line Grants to help reduce their student debt upon graduation. And this fall, we will inaugurate our Global Pathways Scholarship program, which will provide important support for approximately 3,700 undergraduate students with financial need to study away.

Washington Square Village Block: At the recommendation of the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee, a number of improvements are underway on the Washington Square Village block, including new plantings, repairs and repainting, removal of old fences, and a general sprucing up.

Sandy-related Federal Aid: The efforts of our NYU Langone Medical Center colleagues to repair the damage from Hurricane Sandy and restore operations were helped immeasurably this summer when the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded us over $1 billion to help pay for repairs and take steps to protect against a recurrence, one of the largest-ever grants to a single institution. NYU is grateful for the unwavering help and support of those elected officials - most notably US Senator Charles Schumer and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo - who took up our cause.

Brooklyn: NYU shared its plans for 370 Jay St. - which will be the new home for the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) as well as other NYU programs - with the Brooklyn community.

In addition to these developments, there are a number of matters coming this fall that are noteworthy:

New Deans: We have two colleagues taking on new leadership positions beginning this semester - Allyson Green at Tisch and Dominic Brewer at Steinhardt. These new deans have been welcomed enthusiastically in their schools. We thank the Search Committees who helped bring them to us.

Presidential Search: The Presidential Search Committee - led by William Berkley, chair-elect of the Board of Trustees - will begin a process of engagement this fall, soliciting input from various campus constituencies to inform its work (click here for the Committee's recent update and roster).

Reducing Sexual Violence and Harassment: This fall, NYU will announce a number of enhancements to policies, programs, processes, and support services related to sexual assault education, prevention, and response. In the next few weeks, details will be provided in a university-wide communication dedicated to addressing this important initiative at NYU.

Coles Site: Last year, the Board of Trustees accepted the recommendations of the faculty-led University Space Priorities Working Group and we formed a faculty-led Stewardship Committee to advise the University on construction on the Coles site: to provide guidance on and to advise on the design process for the facility; to recommend ways to mitigate the effects of construction; to help shape ongoing stewardship; and to maintain communication between the University and its neighbors. Two topics of primary focus in the near term will be choosing an architect and designing a plan to provide for sports and recreation programs during construction on the Coles site.

Residential Window Replacement on the Superblocks: In an effort both to reduce the impact of noise from future construction and to prevent a recurrence of the discomfort some of our residents felt from last winter's frigid weather, we are beginning a program of window replacement in Washington Square Village and Silver Towers. A major capital project, it will yield benefits in weatherproofing, energy savings, and noise reduction for many years.

Starting University-wide Discussions on a Possible Realignment of Several Health Units: With public health a pressing global issue, over the course of the fall, deans and faculty from a number of our schools involved in the health field will be consulted in a process led by Executive Vice President for Health Robert Berne about the possibility of realigning several of our health programs and schools at NYU to draw on our existing strengths in ways that would magnify them. The principal schools affected by this possible change include our College of Dentistry, College of Nursing, Steinhardt School, and the Global Institute of Public Health. Further consultation will take place after this process is complete.

Student Housing Renovation: Hayden Hall will be closed this academic year to allow us to make important upgrades to the building's system, including the installation of sprinklers, which we have been progressively installing throughout our student housing system. This has meant space is tighter in our system this fall.

School of Professional Studies: The Trustees have voted to change SCPS' name to the NYU School of Professional Studies effective September 1, better reflecting the education it now offers and the students it serves.

Suspension of Classes in Ghana and Israel: We made the difficult decision to suspend fall classes at NYU Tel Aviv and NYU Ghana due to our concerns about safety and well-being of our students and our ability to deliver an educational experience at the level we have set for our sites. Happily, we were able to accommodate these students elsewhere in the global network, and expect to resume classes in January at each location.

All of us have important work to do here at NYU - the pursuit of degrees, teaching and research, or sustaining the constant effort to leave this institution better and stronger for those who come after us. As president, even as I feel the special invigoration of the start of the school year and delight in my time with students in the classroom, I feel the responsibility for NYU's future especially strongly. I think we have set a good, ambitious agenda for the coming year, and I thank you for your part in sustaining NYU's academic momentum.

In the near future, you will hear from Provost David McLaughlin, who will update the faculty on our recruitment of new scholars and other academic efforts.

In the meantime, let me close by wishing you all a great year. Good luck in all your endeavors. Work hard, and enjoy yourselves. And take care of yourselves and one another.

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