Low attendance at listening session

John Ambrosio, News Editor

The Presidential Search Committee held the first of four listening sessions yesterday in the Eisner and Lubin auditorium and invited all NYU faculty to discuss the search process.

The meeting was not open to the press and student senator council chair Jules O’Connor, the only undergraduate student on the committee, was not in attendance. Three other members of the committee did not respond to emails from WSN seeking comment.

NYU spokesman John Beckman said the meeting was closed to students and media in order to keep the event as candid as possible and allow for uncensored contribution.

“The faculty on the committee felt that the session should go forward without a press presence — their feeling was that it wasn’t a press event, but an opportunity for NYU faculty to speak and be heard, and that the presence of the media can have the effect of reducing the kind of candor and forthrightness they’re seeking,” Beckman said in an email.

After the hour and a half meeting, CAS faculty member David Vintinner noted the low attendance rate.

“It’s a shame more faculty did not come,” Vintinner said.

Ellen Schall, the coordinator of the search committee, said progress was made inside the listening session.

“We had a very productive meeting,” Schall said.

Both Vintinner and Schall declined to comment further on the listening session.

Kait Mitchell, a third semester journalism graduate student who was at the meeting, said there were only five faculty members in attendance — two professors, two deans and one member who did not identify himself.

“It’s quite a statement from the faculty obviously, that there was no one there,” Mitchell said. “And [a faculty member even] said it was a statement.”

Mitchell said the faculty members used the meeting to voice their concerns about the search process. She said one of the faculty’s chief concerns was their belief that NYU’s president should not have a business background, but instead be an academic who is among the top in his or her field.

Mitchell added that the committee rarely responded to the faculty’s concerns.

“They stated that they were not there to answer questions,” Mitchell said. “They were just there to hear concerns, so they really didn’t get much of a response from them overall, they just tried to accept graciously these very negative concerns.”

Mitchell also said some faculty, whose names she did not hear, voiced concerns over the distrust between faculty and administration.

“[A] dean from Tisch made the point that her own faculty that work under her at Tisch don’t even trust her anymore,” Mitchell said. “They think she’s part of the administration, being the liaison between the administration and faculty. And they’ve stopped inviting her to faculty meetings. Everyone talked about this huge distrust between faculty and administration.”*

There will be three more listening sessions this month, one for students on Sept. 19 at 11 a.m., another for faculty on Sept. 30 at 12:30 p.m. and one for staff on Sept. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, September 17 print edition. Additional reporting by Alana Bayarin. Email John at [email protected].

*Clarification: An earlier version of this article said “The” dean from Tisch, however, Mitchell did not specify which dean in the Tisch School of the Arts said this at the meeting.