With NYU President John Sexton’s 2031 plans now in question, NYU should focus its fundraising on increasing financial aid instead of expanding its campus. Global expansion is an interesting idea in theory. But in recent years, NYU has focused most of its fundraising and resources on creating a global university while neglecting other crucial aspects of NYU.
Sexton has advocated a number of policies that have turned NYU into a primarily for-profit corporation. NYU under Sexton has made a choice to pursue revenue instead of focusing on the quality of its education and financial aid for students. In recent years NYU has followed the mentality that it needs to expand its student body and real estate in order to remain a top-tier university.
However, does a powerful brand name imply a high quality education? Certainly NYU is establishing a radical new paradigm, something it calls the Global Network University. We now have a global site on every single continent except Antarctica. But the relationship between the brand name and the quality of education can be misleading.
Presumably, the goal of the GNU plan is to develop connections we provide our professors to economically developing nations like the United Arab Emirates and China, and in turn, their governments furnish lavish campuses for our students. Perhaps in 30 years, this will be a great help — China and the UAE will have highly developed academic systems and NYU will be present to take advantage. Or perhaps studying abroad will become much easier for NYU students. Maybe they will all speak two languages and have spent a year abroad somewhere halfway across the globe. This is a textbook economic investment.
But if NYU, which is listed as a nonprofit, narrows its focus and functions more like a for-profit business, is it not at least possible that this will result in a decrease in the quality of its education? After all, such developments take up a good deal of our resources in the short run. Today, our great professors are hopping back and forth between New York and Abu Dhabi, teaching classes over Skype and spreading themselves thin over the globe. Shouldn’t they be spending more time here with us at our main campus?
A version of this article was published in the Wednesday, March 13 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.