Letter to the Editor: NYU fundraising

John Beckman, NYU Spokesperson

To the editor,

[The February 25th “NYU fundraising, spending choices ridiculous”] editorial suffers from issues of both incorrect facts and faulty logic.

First, the $6 billion figure cited for new construction is a red herring, and its repetition by the WSN does the paper no credit.  The finances of what has been proposed are available for all to see on the web in the final report of the University Space Priorities Working Group, which both concludes that moving forward with the Coles site is well within the University’s financial means and makes clear the pressing need NYU has for additional academic space if we are to remain competitive.

Second, while it is fair to say that NYU wishes it could do more by way of scholarship aid, fairness also requires that one note that NYU has in fact already done a great deal to improve financial aid, all of which went unacknowledged in the editorial.  The financial aid budget has increased by approximately 140% since 2002, the average scholarship grant has increased from covering 34% of tuition to covering 55% of tuition, the average debt upon graduation at NYU has been decreasing for several years (down more than $10,000 in the last five years and — contrary to the editorial — lower than the national average among private, four-year colleges [which is an apples-to-apples comparison]), and the University now spends some $200 million/year in scholarships to undergraduates. And we have done all this with an endowment that is, on a per student basis, about 1/20 of Harvard’s and 1/10 of Columbia’s.

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Part of the reason we have been able to do all these things is because of fundraising.  And that brings me to my third and final point.

Speaking personally, I didn’t receive financial aid from the college I attended.  Yet I give yearly to that college because I valued my education and I want to help some young man or woman to attend who might otherwise not be able to afford it (I also give to NYU for the same
reason — even though I didn’t go here, I believe in its goals, mission, and value, and want to make it possible for others
to attend).

NYU is currently working to raise $1 billion for financial aid; we are about 40% of the way to our goal. Asking people to contribute is the only way we will get to our goal.  Which is why I find it disappointing, illogical, and selfish that the WSN’s editorial board’s reaction to the 1831 campaign is “Ask others, not us.”  What must it say to other potential donors to read an editorial suggesting that those who are the recipients of an NYU education should not be asked to contribute to making it available to others?

NYU — like every other college and university — relies on donations from previous generations to help make it more affordable for the current generation of students.  If the editorial writers choose not to become donors, I think it is regrettable, but that is certainly their right.  But it is spectacularly wrong-headed of them to suggest that those who are the beneficiaries of an NYU education should not be asked to give.

Sincerely,

John Beckman

A version of this letter appeared in the Monday, March 2 print edition. Email the WSN Opinion Desk at [email protected]

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