What You Missed Over Break

Kristina Hayhurst, Alex Domb
A boy jumps while holding his two guardians' hands in Washington Square Park, the location .

If you didn’t keep up with happenings in and around NYU during summer break, don’t worry, WSN has you covered. Here’s a recap of the news pertinent to your university over the past three months.

May 15: Endowment Hit a Record High, But Cost of Attendance will Keep Rising

NYU released its annual budget proposal in May, which for 2018-2019 totaled $3.376 billion, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year. Cost of attendance, which takes tuition and housing costs into account, will increase by 2.7 percent this year; at most selective private universities in the United States, cost of attendance rises marginally each year. NYU raised $648 million in the 12-month fundraising cycle between August 2017 and 2018, a 28 percent increase in fundraising totals from the previous year. Over the course of that 12-month cycle, endowment eclipsed the $4 billion mark.

June 21: NYU Revokes Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree

In its June meeting, NYU’s Board of Trustees voted to revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree. The actor and comedian was awarded the honorary degree in 1997, when he served as one of the university’s commencement speakers. In recent years, Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women, effectively destroying his public reputation. In May, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. NYU is one of over 50 universities to date that has rescinded honorary degrees previously awarded to Cosby.

July 26: Board of Trustees Denied Resolutions for Student and Faculty Trustees

In March, the NYU University Senate — a governing body made up of university administrators, student leaders and faculty members — voted in favor of three resolutions to add student and faculty representation to the Board of Trustees, whose thrice-annual meetings are opaque. As with all resolutions passed by the University Senate, the resolutions for representation were passed on to the board for approval. Despite the resolutions being fiercely advocated for by student advocate groups such as the Student Labor Action Movement and NYU Divest, the Board struck each resolution down. Instead, the board promised to meet with University Senate leaders, sit down to lunch with students each semester and update the board’s website.

Aug. 3: NYU Defeated Employees in a Legal Battle Over Retirement Plans

A Lower Manhattan District Court judge ruled that NYU did not mismanage its faculty members’ retirement financial plans. A group of plaintiffs, made up of six NYU professors suing on behalf of all faculty members at the university, filed the class-action lawsuit in early 2018, alleging the university had violated a federal tax law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Several similar lawsuits have been filed against other prominent universities and none thus far have resulted in victories for plaintiffs. The case against NYU was the first to go to trial, which was held over the course of eight days in April.

Aug. 13: A Female NYU Professor Was Suspended for Sexually Harassing a Male Student

NYU completed a Title IX investigation and found Professor of German and Comparative Literature Avital Ronell responsible for a pattern of sexual misconduct toward a male graduate student, Nimrod Reitman, spanning from 2012 to 2015. The university found Ronell guilty of sending inappropriate emails and text messages and for making unwanted physical advances. Many prominent colleagues, including world-renowned scholars, have came to Ronell’s defense; Ronell has denied allegations of misconduct and accused Reitman of “inviting” and “encouraging” the communication between the two. NYU has suspended Ronell without pay for the 2018-2019 academic year and mandated that any future meetings between she and students must be presided over by a third party.

Aug. 16: NYU School of Medicine Offers Full-Tuition Scholarships to All Students

NYU’s School of Medicine gave a surprise announcement to a room full of  first-year medical students that it is now offering full-tuition scholarships to all students in its M.D. degree program, regardless of financial background. Donations from more than 2,500 supporters — from trustees to alumni — will fund the initiative. NYU emphasized that the move was a rational step in the pursuit of
education that doesn’t bury students in debt. With 21 percent of doctors graduating from a private school with more than $300,000 in debt, NYU hopes to make a career in medicine more financially accessible.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Sunday, Aug. 26 print edition. Email Alex Domb and Kristina Hayhurst at [email protected].

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