It was an exciting moment for many of the science-oriented students at NYU when President Andrew Hamilton announced that “One priority for NYU’s future must be to strengthen the sciences.” And to prove that Hamilton intended on making his proposal a reality, he followed up with examples of current programs under development, such as laboratories on Broadway and renovations at the Tandon School of Engineering. Hamilton firmly stated: “We plan to invest well over half a billion dollars in science, engineering and technology over the next few years.”
A British professor who specialized in chemistry, Hamilton was a surprising choice for the helm of a university renowned for its arts, business and social science programs. Considering the experiences and connections he has accumulated through his academic career, it should be clear that his connections could bring about positive changes to all of NYU’s science departments. For now, it seems like the plan Hamilton has in mind for the Department of Chemistry is in good shape.
The hiring of professor Dirk Trauner, who joined the NYU Chemistry Faculty this fall semester, is a notable example of this effort. Both his international background and rich experience should be very beneficial for students, not to mention how they fit NYU’s diverse community and academic prestige. Moreover, a chemistry symposium to welcome Andrew Hamilton will be held this Friday featuring speakers from five prestigious universities including Yale, Cornell, Northwestern, University of Texas at Austin and NYU. President Hamilton and Professor Trauner will be the two speakers representing NYU, though the biggest star of the event will probably be the guest speaker Sir J. Fraser Stoddart from Northwestern University, who is one of three Nobel Chemistry winners of this year. The effort to bring top figures in the chemistry field together at NYU echoes Hamilton’s promise to improve the status of NYU sciences, as chemistry students get exposed to richer academic resources.
The need to build up NYU sciences’ reputation does not validate the stereotypical assertion that NYU is weak at all sciences. It is true that NYU’s urban setting, in addition to the limited available space for academic expansion, lends itself to an immersive environment for the humanities, perhaps more so than for the hard sciences. Many of the science departments at NYU do have renowned faculty members and well-developed programs.
For now, we’ve seen evidence of NYU paying increasing attention to science and engineering — fields that may not be the most visible on our campus. Thus, Hamilton’s effort to cultivate the sciences is a good sign not just for students or professors in the departments themselves, but also for the rest of the community to be more informed of NYU’s broad academic reach.
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Email Chuyu Xiong at [email protected]