Students gathered in the University Penthouse for a rare opportunity to dine with NYU President John Sexton.
The dinner, typically three or four hours long, attempts to bridge the gap of anonymity between Sexton and the more than 50,000students who attend NYU. Sexton aims to host these dinners once or twice each week, a lofty goal for his hectic travel schedule.
Approximately 30 out of over 300 students who applied online were selected by a lottery system, and then formally invited to join Sexton for dinner. There are separate graduate and undergraduate events, and each includes students from all schools within NYU. Students from the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies and the NYU SCPS Paul McGhee Division are also able to apply.
“My education has been very important to me. Being able to talk to [Sexton] and thank [him] while raising some concerns is a great opportunity that any NYU student should jump at,” said Britton Burdick, a sophomore and McGhee student.
Aramark, NYU’s on-campus food service, caters the buffet-style dinners. The food at each dinner is different, but always includes a main course, side dishes, drinks and desserts. Aramark can also cater to students with special eating needs.
“We can accommodate students who need a special meal, such as vegan, gluten-free, Kosher or Halal, as long as they let me know in advance,” said Elizabeth Kuzina, the Student Affairs chief of staff.
The dinners began a little over a decade ago in 2001, when Sexton first became president of NYU. According to Sexton, intimacy and communication are essential components to events involving students and the administration. He also enjoys the opportunity to meet students and hear about their college experiences.
“My life is about students. That’s why this dinner is so meaningful,” Sexton said. “My dedication to students is known because I’m the only president in the world who teaches a full faculty schedule.
Shamma Al Mazrui, one of Sexton’s guests and a junior at NYU Abu Dhabi, expressed her appreciation for Sexton.
“I love President Sexton. He’s the best president,” she said. “He always comes to visit Abu Dhabi. And he’s so inspiring, and whenever I see him I feel like he encourages me to be a better person.”
While some students came to the dinner to meet an inspirational figure, others wanted to take the chance to voice their concerns to Sexton.
“I’m an art student, so I just want to hear how [Sexton] plans to make the art program better since it sometimes seems like an afterthought,” said Steinhardt junior Kate Weigel.
The evening included the history of NYU, the story of how Sexton became president, issues and concerns raised by students and glimpses into NYU’s future.
Sexton said that the university it working to expand the global network. “[The global network] will be fully flowered in two years from now for sure,” he said. Sexton hopes to establish sites in India and Brazil within the next decade.
Sexton also shared advice for students.
“Follow your passion,” Sexton said. “And don’t plan too much. It rarely works out the way you plan anyway.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 27 print edition. Tatiana Baez is deputy university editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full-time faculty of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study has passed a vote of no confidence in NYU President John Sexton. Based on the statement below, 23 voted in favor, 21 voted against and 6 abstained. “We, the full-time …Read More »
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