LIVE BLOG: Town Hall Meeting with President John Sexton

Nicole Brown

Rachel Kaplan/WSN



Today is the last Student Senate Council Town Hall meeting with President John Sexton of the year. All NYU students have been invited to attend and ask the president questions. With recent discussions of no confidence among faculty, we expect students to voice their opinions on how the university is run. Stay toned to hear how Sexton responds, and let us know what questions you have for him.

Update: 4:12p.m.

Chair of the Student Senate Council Malina Webb welcomed everyone and introduced President Sexton.

Students have written their questions for Sexton on slips of paper that will be randomly chosen out of three jars representing three different categories: Academics, Global Network University, and Student Life.


Question: What legal measures are NYU willing to take to ensure the NYU 2031 plan proceeds as planned?

Response: Sexton explained the lawsuits against the NYU regarding the NYU 2031 plan. The first, regarding construction where a park is currently, has been dismissed for the time being. The other is not directly against NYU, and Sexton predicts it will probably be dismissed as well.

“We’re respectful of the Village and want to be respectful of the community here,” Sexton said.


Question: What are the positives and negatives of being a student in the Global Network University?

Response: The GNU is a work in progress. Sexton explained that there are three doorways into the GNU: New York, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, but all the students are connected.

“This is going to be really good for your degree,” Sexton said. “The knowledge about NYU is increasing.”

He explained that NYU is the most popular school among international students. He also sited the Times of London polling that listed NYU as the 29th top university in the world.

“You have a lot to do with that,” Sexton added, emphasizing that students should recognize their importance at NYU.


Question: Why is so much money going to new NYU campuses when it could be used to help students afford tuition through financial aid or scholarships?

This question received an applause from the audience.

Response: Sexton said NYU’s financial aid has a significantly higher percentage of the university’s budget than it did ten years ago.

“It has increased considerably more than our tuition has increased,” Sexton said.

Sexton explained that the percentage of the student body that qualifies for financial aid has also increased, which puts more pressure on the university. He also recognized the increase in faculty members, which has led to the need of additional space.

The president says we need to look at the facts. The word “expansion” has been floating around the community with a very negative connotation, but he says we need to think more about this word. There are certain necessities that the university to continue to grow Sexton said.

“We are deeply compressed, and the plan posits a .5 percent growth in the student body,” Sexton said.

Sexton added that the expansions will not be complete while he is president.

“This is planting a tree under which others will sit,” Sexton said.


Question: Malina asked the president to talk about where the proceeds of his book go.

Response: Sexton said he gets a third of the proceeds from his book.

“My third goes to financial aid,” Sexton said.


Question: How is NYU planning to use new technologies to improve the quality of learning across the global network?

Response: The president said NYU is very dedicated to using new technologies already, specifically siting NYU-Poly. He said that Poly was recently named the fourth best university using technology.

We are the university that has this network of campuses that can be connected, and the portal campuses are doing their part in using technology to enhance education and connect students at the various campuses Sexton explained.

“We now have the capacity to do telepresence.” Sexton said. “All that is being funded by Abu Dhabi.”

Sexton added that Abu Dhabi is also planning to digitize the library in New York City so it can be used elsewhere around the world.


Question: A student who hopes to do research abroad in Prague, expressed concern that there are not an intermediate level Czech language class provided that will allow her to gain the level of language efficiency to complete her research. Her question was: What other kinds of resources will be available to graduate students to help them advance their research?

Response: Sexton repeats that the GNU is a work in progress. He says that the site is already available to graduate students, but as for the language need, he is not the decision maker. He admits that more language classes should be created, but that is up to the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“We are at the early stages of this,” Sexton said.


Question: Why hasn’t NYU tried to measure the students’ support of the president?

Response: Sexton discussed the way faculty has expressed their opinion of him to the students. He acknowledged the FAS’s vote of no confidence, but said that is only part of the university. He has received support from other areas of the university, including the Medical Center.

“I have never criticized the faculty,” Sexton added, recognizing that he respects his colleagues.

But the president said he does not want to get the students involved in this. Claiming that most of the students don’t know enough about him, he said he does not think students should have a vote of their own.


Question: Since international students do not qualify for financial aid, does that mean less international students, only the one who can afford the tuition, will be able to attend NYU?

Response: The president said he doesn’t know the exact answer to that, but knows financial aid will need to be offered to international students in the future.

“I know we can’t stay in a position where we aren’t giving any financial aid to foreign students,” Sexton said.

He also said that the portal campuses have a role in this issue. By 2020, there will be 4000 full scholarships to NYU funded by NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi.

Sexton admitted that more needs to be done to address this issue, so that not just foreign students of elite can attend NYU.


Sexton ended the meeting by reminding students of his upcoming student dinners and advising them to not worry too much about upcoming exams.