Comments on: Why is NYU building? http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: JustTheFactsMan http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41748 Thu, 12 Jul 2012 23:45:41 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41748 The author makes a lot of good points (as do the 2 NYU profs and OceanDrive re: the Sasaki Gardens.) All you really need to know about the wisdom of NYU2031 is that NYU’s business school, which is no bastion of liberalism nor is it anti-development, voted 52 to 3 against the plan!

Most importantly (and impressively), Mr. Salmon has his finger on the key issue: Whom would or would not benefit from NYU2031? He also has the right answer: Almost no one would benefit from this outrageous grab for personal benefit at the expense of public good except NYU’s president (anyone want to bet whose name graces the project?), NYU’s trustees, who undoubtedly lead the companies that would construct, finance, lawyer and design the project, plus the legions hired by that president and those trustees to promote and support it in every way.

Consider this fact. I sat through the entire 9 hour NY City Council meeting on NYU2031 June 29th (which wasn’t fun), and I estimate that about 75 people testified in FAVOR of the project (as opposed to about double that number AGAINST.) Of those 75 supporters, maybe 8 were well meaning undergrads who see that NYU has inadequate space (never mind that NYU CREATED that problem itself by knowingly admitting more students than it had space for), and want “enhanced prestige” for their future alma mater. Another 5 or so (again, my estimate) fall into the category of “fringe opinions,” including 1 architectural “expert” whom I’ve noticed supporting, well, just about every development project out there. The remaining 60+ people who testified in FAVOR of NYU2031 were either paid directly by NYU to support the project (NYU administration employees), hope to profit personally from it (outside advisors hired by NYU’s administration), or general business support groups of which NYU is undoubtedly a major supporter. In contrast, I couldn’t pick out even a single person who testified AGAINST the project who would benefit financially from killing it. Instead, all of those people would be harmed personally, and severely in many cases, if NYU2031 goes through (anyone want to live in a 20 year construction zone? Or pick up and move your life because someone else insisted on inflicting that on you?)

So, there you have what’s most importantly at stake with NYU2031: it’s personal profit for a (private) minority at the expense of widespread social cost for the (public) majority. If that wasn’t the case, then why doesn’t NYU construct in a commercially zoned area that wants it, like the financial district? Or better yet, lease space there? Duh!

]]>
By: Eugene5000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41739 Thu, 12 Jul 2012 20:56:11 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41739 NYU is “building” because giant brick-and-mortar projects become monuments to the unquestionable authority of the NYU leaders. IOW, it’s marketing on a grand scale, there being no functional reason to build one more damn school building in the US.

]]>
By: OceanDrive http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41587 Tue, 10 Jul 2012 21:31:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41587 The only area I will disagree with the writer is Sasaki Gardens. This is inaccessible and closed off because of NYU! NYU put the fence around Sasaki Gardens and completely closed off the area when they added retail on LaGuardia. I also would like to know why the playground and sitting area in front of Coles has been closed for years? NYU is the one who developed these items in 1981. Lastly, the fence in front of Silver Towers lawn (put by NYU) makes it closed off as well. I believe all of these items are either NYU’s fault or at least justified by NYU to say the area has a closed off feel. It’s actually primarily NYU’s fault!!!

My main issue with the proposed expansion though is the fact that President Sexton’s administration will not disclose the financial plan. I can only imagine this is because his administration does not want it publically known that tuition will have to rise further to cover this building cost. Surely, taking out the profit making hotel and limiting retail will mean that most income will have to come from new students and growing the student body. Growing the student body will eliminate President Sexton’s justification that classroom per student will actually decrease significantly in the coming years. Remember, there are only 40- proposed new classrooms and NYU is planning on adding thousands of additional students over the coming years. The math is simple….

Having attended NYU, I don’t believe NYU students desire a traditional clustered campus. One of the unique and valued things about NYU, is that it is part of New York rather than an isolated campus with walls. Now, that study abroad and online learning are surely going to become major learning tools at universities it should make even less sense why NYU has to create a Midtown like campus in Greenwich Village.

]]>
By: everdeen http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41567 Tue, 10 Jul 2012 14:03:54 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41567 So what building (or campuses) will NYU sell off when the 2031 Plan goes bust?

And which lucky NYU Board of Trustees real estate developer will have first dibs to swoop in to buy this prime real estate at distressed prices?

]]>
By: NYUMark http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41553 Tue, 10 Jul 2012 11:01:50 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41553 I attended NYU at its University Heights campus. Never heard of that location? They had to sell it to pay for the Loeb Library when that project busted the budget back in the early 70s.

]]>
By: Truth_To_Power http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41533 Tue, 10 Jul 2012 02:59:30 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41533 Competitiveness, prestige: two words so often used by the NYU administration in defending its behemoth of a plan. And yet, in the educational context, this fugitive and precious thing, prestige, has nothing to do with ever-larger dorms and square footage but instead has everything to do with the quality, the intrepidness and the commitment of a university’s faculty and students. That is to say, the lifeblood of any academic institution and the true measure of its excellence. Pres. Sexton’s plan, in contradistinction, will put even greater strain (if that is possible, in NYU’s case) on already-financially strapped students in the form of mounting debt, given the annual rise in tuition – and the increasing need for more and more students to provide an influx of revenue to balance all of the money going out for new building campaigns, from Washington Square to Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. The plan likewise will adversely affect faculty retention, to say nothing of recruitment (how attractive a selling point is an interminable, dust-chocked and ear-splitting construction zone?). As for NYU’s youngest academic stars? These disaffected faculty members are likely to defect in droves, to institutions that genuinely care about faculty governance and the well-being of their faculty (their quality of life, their families, their sense of community). These scholars will be poached by rival institutions in the blink of an eye, one other New York institution that I can think of most certainly among them.

And I say all of this as a member of NYU’s own faculty – and a member of one of the now-36 Schools, Centers and Departments at our University to have passed a resolution against this massively dense, academically unjustified and costly expansion. The rising number and intensity of faculty voices against the overwhelming aggressiveness of this expansion, one that originally included a university hotel in its first iteration, is something absolutely extraordinary, by any measure. And the volume will only grow, if the administration does not step away from the precipice and remembers its original academic mission.
The pivotal question here – as it always has been, for the faculty and our increasingly-indebted students – is the plan’s entirely murky academic rationale. For what has precipitated this sudden need for space? First and most, our acceptance numbers have spun out of control. Unfortunately, the horse is already out of the barn; the student explosion ALREADY occurred in this past decade. Now the administration seems to be scrambling like mad to accommodate everyone — and it doesn’t seem to matter much if it’s on Washington Square or abroad. Anywhere … but, in listening to Pres. Sexton, if it IS to be in New York, it better be a minute from the Square! God forbid that twenty year olds take the subway a few stops from downtown or ride a bike to their first class. Bottom line: NYU has gotten far too big, far too fast. And the incoming freshman class promises to be bigger still, thanks to a historic over-yield of 10-15%.

Is it any surprise, then, that the administration is now beginning to feel the strain on its resources? How could it not, given its voracious appetite for more and more students (that is, more and more tuition, at $55,000 a head for tuition, room and board, in part to finance all of the new buildings, both here and abroad)? It’s a vicious cycle – a case of crisis management but in an academic context. Sadly for our graduates, when we admit well over a third of all applicants, it ultimately devalues their degree. On average — to compare — the Ivies admit 10-11% of all applicants. UPenn admits the most, I believe — yet it’s still only 18%. And the student bodies in the institutions in questions – boasting endowments that eclipse our comparatively modest $2.8 billion, possibly half of the price tag the present expansion would run — are but a fraction of ours, allowing for much better student-faculty ratios. And our administration dares to talk about prestige? On one recent occasion, Pres. Sexton brought up the fact that we don’t have a football team. There’s no football stadium to serve as a gathering place, he argued. This is the leader of our academic institution saying this. And speaking of football schools … Councilmember Jessica Lappin was sadly correct when she noted, at the City Council’s public hearing, that, in its unchecked growth, NYU is no longer the peer institution of the likes of Columbia. In enrollment, NYU’s peer institutions are now Big Ten Schools the likes of Michigan and Wisconsin.

You know, I’ve yet to hear of a single student who decided to pass up on NYU because it didn’t have a football stadium. Or any pizza joints or frozen yogurt places in the middle of Washington Square Village, in place of the award-winning Sasaki Garden! Edward Hopper and Jackson Pollock, Edgar Allan Poe (whose former house on W. 3rd St. NYU defaced in its “creative reconstruction”), Henry James, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Poets, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Joey Ramone – and of course Jane Jacobs. Now, THESE are some of the reasons that our students (as well as the faculty, like myself) cross states, if not oceans, to join and experience Greenwich Village. My University now threatens to destroy its own host.

Finally, on the matter of student housing, specifically … Councilmember Margaret Chin in fact has invited NYU – courted it, on a number of occasions, and done so publicly — to build any necessary new dorms in the Financial District … no more than about a 10-15 minute subway ride away. NYU is a commuter city after all, is it not? Always has been, always will be. NYU has just launched the CUSP initiative (The Center for Urban Science and Progress) on Jay St. in Brooklyn, for crying out loud. Then there’s NYU Hospital and Medical School on 1st Avenue and E. 26th. Bottom line: the only space that absolutely must be on Washington Square and its immediate environs are academic spaces. And yet what percentage of the present plan is destined for instructional academic space? Not dorms or commercial space, but instructional space? No more than 18% or approximately 40 classrooms. So, who profits? It sure isn’t the dismayed faculty. Nor is it our students, many of whom are working not two but three jobs (waitressing, bartending, catering among them) so as to afford tuition and at least try to avoid punishing student debt.

Make no mistake: If this is about academics — that’s to say, the only grounds that any educator could possibly take this Napoleonic plan seriously — it’s indefensible. An open line of credit, in the lifting of longstanding zoning laws, turning public land over to a “private university in the public service,” to do with this property as it wishes, when it wishes? Low interest rates for new construction, its purpose-as-yet-to-be-decided? If so, this is a definition of competitiveness and prestige of which we, the faculty, want no part.

]]>
By: FifthDecade http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41513 Mon, 09 Jul 2012 20:29:07 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41513 @Zdneal Now could be a bad time to take on debt if the debt to be taken is maximised for current interest rates; if however the affordability takes into account long term interest rates, less debt would be the result. Sadly, people always try to maximise their borrowings, so it could mean that when interest rates rise again, costs of supporting the interest rates becomes unsupportable. This would be particularly true if the education market took a downturn as well; just because things are going well now doesn’t mean they will be in 15 years time.

Personally I think they should find a way to lower fees, then select more tightly on ability and raise the Institutions standards that way. If demand exceeds supply, you don’t *have to* increase supply; you can increase quality too.

If debt is taken on though, it might be interesting to create some form of “tuition bonds” whereby students can buy the debt in exchange for a discount on their fees instead of paying a coupon. They used some similar kind of arrangement when Arsenal AFC built it’s new Emirates Stadium in London, and gave incentives to season ticket holders and to purchasers of the apartments in the new stadium.

The problem with having business people on a non-profit board is they don’t know how not to make profits!

]]>
By: dWj http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41503 Mon, 09 Jul 2012 19:02:49 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41503 @Curmudgeon Good point, actually; I did have a non-first job where the name on a diploma seems to have helped get me an interview, but it was a change of careers. (Even then, connections from my first career helped get the interview, too.)

]]>
By: NYUProf http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41500 Mon, 09 Jul 2012 17:41:23 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41500 @Blox: why do you think that NYU is asking for upzoning, if isn’t in order to make $$$$?

As Felix points out, if the zoning change goes through, this will effectively transfer billions of dollars to NYU. That doesn’t seem right, since we’re a private university. We don’t pay taxes. And … not mentioned in Felix’s piece: the proposal also asks that public land be transferred to this private entity.

My university is not only asking to have billions transferred to it; it is also asking for the public to make sacrifices so that can happen.

Doesn’t seem right.

]]>
By: NYUProf http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/07/09/why-is-nyu-building/comment-page-1/#comment-41499 Mon, 09 Jul 2012 17:41:13 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=15869#comment-41499 @Blox: why do you think that NYU is asking for upzoning, if isn’t in order to make $$$$?

As Felix points out, if the zoning change goes through, this will effectively transfer billions of dollars to NYU. That doesn’t seem right, since we’re a private university. We don’t pay taxes. And … not mentioned in Felix’s piece: the proposal also asks that public land be transferred to this private entity.

My university is not only asking to have billions transferred to it; it is also asking for the public to make sacrifices so that can happen.

Doesn’t seem right.

]]>