Today, the TIAA-CREF Institute announced that NYU President John Sexton is the winner of the 2015 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence.

NYU President John Sexton
The TIAA-CREF Institute has named NYU President John Sexton, pictured above, as the winner of the 2015 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence.

Today, the TIAA-CREF Institute announced that NYU President John Sexton is the winner of the 2015 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. Below is the Institute's press release announcing the award:

NEW YORK, March 16, 2015 – The TIAA-CREF Institute today announced Dr. John Sexton, president of New York University (NYU), as the winner of the 2015 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence, which recognizes outstanding leadership on the part of a college or university president, or chancellor. The award, established in 1993, is named in honor of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the great educator and humanitarian who recently passed away.

The American Council on Education (ACE) administers the award on the Institute’s behalf and an independent panel of judges selects the winner. TIAA-CREF bestowed this honor today at the ACE Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

While higher education institutions in the United States have faced great challenges and uncertainty, Sexton has shown vision and leadership that have enhanced NYU’s reputation nationally while vastly expanding the university’s global reach.

“The TIAA-CREF Institute is thrilled that Dr. Sexton has been selected as the 2015 Hesburgh Award honoree. His work to grow and improve NYU has given other university presidents across the country some new pathways in this time of uncertainty,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of the TIAA-CREF Institute. “Sexton’s three decades of commitment to his university, visionary leadership and dedication to exploring new ideas for higher education – all while continuing to teach undergraduates each semester -- epitomize the spirit and work of the award’s namesake, the late Father Theodore Hesburgh.”

During Sexton’s presidency, NYU has opened two international degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. It has also added six new study-abroad sites – Berlin, Accra, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Sydney and Washington, D.C. – to the five sites that existed when he was named president. NYU has become the first U.S. university in 15 years to lead in both undergraduates who study abroad and in the number of international students attending.

“I am honored to receive an award that has been bestowed upon such a distinguished list of my colleagues and is named after Father Hesburgh, who was an inspiration to all of us,” said Sexton. “The NYU we know today is the outcome of decades of bold decision-making and vision that created an extraordinary academic trajectory. I feel privileged to have played a part in that great transformation. This award validates those efforts, and I accept it on behalf of the many people – from trustees and faculty to students and staff – in the NYU community who have contributed so much to NYU’s advancement.”

Sexton’s accomplishments at NYU are wide-ranging. In addition to enhancing the university’s global presence, he also put in place a plan to meet its pressing academic space needs in New York, restored engineering as a discipline for the first time in four decades, expanded tenured and tenure-track positions in the arts and sciences by 20 percent, saw federal research and development expenditures increase by more than 80 percent, more than doubled the financial aid budget, increased student diversity, doubled the number of applicants for freshman admission, raised nearly $5 billion and tripled the endowment.

“ACE is proud to join the TIAA-CREF Institute in honoring leaders like John Sexton who have made such profound contributions to American higher education during challenging times,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “Dr. Sexton has transformed New York University into a truly global institution and spurred the creation of an array of important academic programs, which will stand NYU in good stead for decades to come.”

About ACE

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Hesburgh Award Background

Established in 1993, the Hesburgh Award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good and is presented to a current college or university president or chancellor who embodies the spirit of the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former President of the University of Notre Dame, and his contributions to higher education and society. The winner is selected by an independent panel of judges.

About the TIAA-CREF Institute

The TIAA-CREF Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The Institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success.

For more information about the TIAA-CREF Institute, which manages the Hesburgh Award program, visit


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $851 billion in assets under management (as of 12/31/2014) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

Hesburgh Award Winner Bio

John Sexton was designated President of New York University in 2001. He is also NYU’s Benjamin Butler Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the Law School.

President Sexton is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a past member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities. He is past Chair of the American Council on Education, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Chair of the Federal Reserve Systems Council of Chairs. He also serves on the Board of the Institute of International Education.

He is an author of the nation’s leading casebook on Civil Procedure as well as several other books, numerous chapters, articles, and Supreme Court briefs. His latest book, “Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game,” is based on an undergraduate seminar he teaches at NYU each spring.

President Sexton received a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in comparative religion and a Ph.D. in the history of American religion, all from Fordham University. He received a law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. The recipient of a number of honorary degrees, he was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s national order of the Legion of Honor.

TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award Background

The TIAA-CREF Hesburgh award, which includes a $20,000 prize, recognizes a current college or university president/chancellor who:
• Is a visionary, demonstrating innovative thinking about strategic challenges and opportunities, sustaining the institution’s core values and mission, and adopting strategies to ensure future institutional vitality.
• Has had or is having, through his/her personal involvement, a positive impact on higher education and/or on society in general through his/her institutional leadership role.
• Demonstrates collaborative partnerships within the campus or externally that enhance institutional ability to achieve excellence both within the institution and for the greater good.
• Positions the institution to thrive in an uncertain future, anticipating trends and developing strategies to manage change.

TIAA-CREF Institute is a division of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), New York, NY.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products.


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