||Perstare et praestare ("To persevere and to excel")
New York, NY, USA
||20,212 undergraduate, 15,884 graduate, and 3,312 professional
||18 sports teams
New York University (NYU) is a large research university in New York City, and is among the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in the United States. Its primary campus is in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. With a total enrollment of 39,408 (as of the fall of 2004) — 20,212 of which are undergraduates, 15,884 of which are graduate, and 3,312 of which are professional students — NYU is one of the largest private universities in the United States. The University comprises 14 schools, colleges, and divisions, which occupy six major centers across Manhattan. Most NYU buildings are scattered across a roughly square area bounded by Houston Street to the south, Broadway to the east, 14th Street to the north, and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to the west.
Apart from noted strengths in mathematics, computer science, neuroscience, and public administration, NYU's Stern School of Business ranks among the top 15 business schools in the country, while its School of Law regularly ranks in the top five of US law schools in education and research. NYU's Medical School also ranks among the best in the country. Due to its location in New York City — a noted cultural center — NYU's Tisch School of the Arts is considered to be a premier school for studies in the performing arts, such as theatre, drama, film, and vocal studies. NYU also has one of the largest and most diverse international student populations of any university in the United States, with over 5,000 students representing over 100 different countries.
NYU has also grown more selective in its undergraduate admissions in recent years, in light of the growing popularity of an "urban" education and the perceived decrease in crime in New York City. NYU has seen a continuing trend of increasingly greater numbers of applicants, lower acceptance rates, and higher average SAT scores for freshmen. In 2000, applications to NYU increased by more than 300 percent from 1991, while the acceptance rate declined from 65 percent to 29.3 percent. As of 2004, the acceptance rate was 14 percent. Such a trend of increasing selectivity is expected to continue at NYU as it improves its standards, its faculty, and its resources. In 2004 and 2005, NYU was ranked in student polls as the leading "dream school" (first choice when factors such as the school's selectivity are not considered) among high school seniors.
The University is a very "national" school, with over 60% of its incoming freshmen coming from outside of the Tri-State Area. In addition, 15% of students come from one of New York City's five boroughs, and 25% come from the surrounding 17 counties. Nevertheless, NYU's main feeder schools reflect a strong New York City influence; the top five are Stuyvesant High School, Benjamin Cardozo High School , Brooklyn Technical High School, Townsend Harris High School , and the Bronx High School of Science.
NYU's aggressive recruitment of renowned professors and Ivy League graduates has been a large factor in the University's growing prestige. It has often been involved in bidding wars to lure top faculty in an attempt to boost its academic reputation. NYU is remarkable in that it went from being a near-bankrupt commuter school to becoming one of the country's most prestigious research universities, in large part due to the fact that, instead of building its endowment, the University spent its money on building new facilities and hiring more faculty.
NYU's "campus" is fractured and decentralized, with buildings spread over much of the neighborhood. However, there is often tension between NYU and other neighborhood residents and businesses over real estate issues. In spite of this, NYU is the third largest landowner in the city (the largest being the City itself, the second being the Catholic Church).
The Washington Square Arch
New York University was founded by a group of prominent New Yorkers in 1831
— the city's landed class of merchants, bankers, and traders — who felt that New York needed a university designed for young men of the middle class
. To the school's founders, the classical curriculum offered at American colleges seemed out of touch with the needs of the working classes; a more modern and practical education was needed. Institutions in Paris
, and London
were beginning to experiment with this new form of higher learning, where students began to focus not only on the classics and religion, but also modern languages, philosophy, history, political economy, and physical science, so that students might become merchants, mechanics, manufacturers, architects, and engineers. This new school would also be non-denominational, unlike Columbia College
, which had the full support of the Anglican Church
and offered sons of the wealthy a classical education rooted in religion.
The institution, itself, was modeled after the University of London. The school would provide education to all young men at a reasonable cost, would abandon the traditional "classical" curriculum, and would be financed privately through the sale of stock. The establishment of a joint stock company would prevent any religious group or denomination from dominating the affairs and management of the institution.
On April 21, 1831, the new institution was incorporated as the University of the City of New-York by the New York State Legislature (the school was renamed to New York University in 1896).
Notable among NYU's founding fathers is Albert Gallatin, after whom one of the University's schools is named. Gallatin proposed an English-based curriculum that did not require learning Latin or Greek. In the beginning, the University focused primarily on teaching modern languages, engineering, agriculture, and other pragmatic subjects. In a move that was considered bold and innovative at the time, students could enroll for regular course work leading to a diploma, or they could take individual courses according to their own means, desire, and convenience, a philosophy that predated modern-day schools of continuing education. In 1832, NYU held its first classes in rented rooms in four-story Clinton Hall, located near City Hall. In 1835, the School of Law, NYU's first professional school, was founded.
Clinton Hall, which sat in the heart of New York's bustling and noisy commercial district, would only be NYU's home for a few years as administrators looked uptown for a more suitable and permanent academic environment. More specifically, they looked towards then-bucolic Greenwich Village. Land was purchased on the east side of Washington Square and, in 1833, construction began on the "Old University Building," a grand, Gothic structure that would house all of the school's functions. Two years later, the university community took possession of its permanent home, thus beginning NYU's enduring (and sometimes tumultuous) relationship with the Village.
While NYU has had its Washington Square campus since its inception, the University purchased a campus at University Heights in the Bronx, as a result of overcrowding on the old campus. NYU's move to the Bronx took place in 1894, spearheaded by the efforts of Chancellor Mitchell MacCracken, who is credited with turning the school into a modern university. The University Heights campus was far more spacious than its predecessor, and housed the bulk of the University's operations, along with the undergraduate College of Arts and Science (University College) and School of Engineering. With most of NYU's operations moved to the new campus, the Washington Square campus declined, with only the Law School remaining until the founding of Washington Square College in 1914. It would become the downtown Arts and Sciences division of the university.
During the 1960s and 1970s, feeling the pressures of imminent bankruptcy, then-President of NYU, James Hester, negotiated the sale of the University Heights campus to the City University of New York, which took place in 1973. While University Heights alumni fought to keep the campus, some suggest that the sale was a "blessing in disguise" as the Uptown campus was losing money and the management of two campuses was impossible for NYU, financially. Chancellor Sidney Borowitz said on the matter, "There was so much pressure from Uptown alumni to preserve the Heights that it was only under the threat of possible financial ruin that the campus could be sold. With two campuses, NYU could never have prospered as it has." After the sale of the University Heights campus, University College merged with Washington Square College. NYU's School of Engineering was shut down, and most of its students transferred to Polytechnic University in Brooklyn.
As at other college campuses nationwide, NYU became a hotbed for activism during much of the 1960s and 1970s. Groups like the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized students to demonstrate throughout New York and to support community voter registration and legal counseling. By 1965, student concerns began to change focus, concentrating on the escalating American involvement in Vietnam. Washington Square Park was the setting for protests on tuition hikes, civil rights, repressive government actions, the Vietnam War, and women's rights.
During the 1990s, NYU became increasingly more and more popular to students from outside of the New York City area. To meet the demand for housing and classroom space, the university began purchasing old office buildings, hotels, and even nightclubs. Many of the university's programs, particularly those in film, theatre, and acting, rose to national prominence.
NYU is largely a reflection of the population of New York City, having a mostly progressive and liberal-minded student body. According to the Princeton Review, NYU ranks second in the nation in its acceptance of gays and lesbians.
NYU's location in Greenwich Village — a vibrant and creative neighborhood that has attracted generations of artists, writers, intellectuals, and musicians — provides a unique perspective in which to study. The Village — and the rest of New York City — acts as an extension of NYU's campus. Being that NYU's "campus" is a patchwork of buildings and structures across much of the Village, it is indeed an "urban university" that has embraced the city as an essential element of the academic experience. Many of the NYU buildings surround Washington Square Park, and the park has been utilized for many years as the location of the commencement ceremony for all graduating students each year.
That said, NYU is often criticized for its lack of a "campus life" and it has been said that the University lacks a strong sense of community, particularly amongst undergraduates. This fact was put into perspective when a string of six highly publicized suicides took place at (or around) the University during the 2003-2004 academic year. NYU responded by offering free counseling to all enrolled students and installing glass walls to enclose the balconies at Bobst Library, where two of the suicides took place. They have begun installing locks on all windows in buildings with many stories, as well as restricting access to balconies in dorms.
While the university is trying to shed its image as a commuter school, NYU currently has few support systems in place for the large proportion of its student body (approximately 60 percent) that does commute. On the other hand, New York City itself has so many active communities that some students feel there is no need to participate in campus life. Nevertheless, NYU's varied clubs, organizations, and activities are available to those who seek them out.
Membership in Greek organizations is low; only nine to eleven percent of the student body is a member of either a fraternity or a sorority.
Faculty and staff
NYU is frequently criticized for its hiring of adjunct teaching staff over full-time tenure track professors. The university has significantly fewer full-time staff than other universities of the same size. Adjuncts are preferred over full-time teaching staff because of the lower cost, and the fact that the university does not have to provide them benefits. The threat of a strike by the adjunct professors in the spring of 2004 resulted in a tentative agreement offering adjuncts some benefits and wage increases over a multi-year period.
NYU's sports teams are called the Violets and its school mascot is the Bobcat. Almost all sporting teams participate in the NCAA's Division III and the University Athletic Association, with the only exception being the fencing team which is Division I. The school's official colors are purple and white.
List of schools and colleges
Art, music, and film
Business and media
Humanities and social sciences
Politics and government
Science and technology
- Dim, Joan, The Miracle on Washington Square. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000.
- Frusciano, Tom and Marilyn Pettit, New York University and the City, an Illustrated History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
- Potash, David M., The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University: A History. New York: NYU Arts and Sciences Publications, 1991.
Last updated: 07-30-2005 17:31:30