New York University

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New York University
NYU Puck Building.jpg
Motto Perstare et praestare (Latin for "To persevere and to excel")
Established 1831
Type Private
Location New York, NY USA

New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan. Founded in 1831, NYU is the largest private, non-profit institution of higher education in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 40,000. Despite having an urban campus, NYU has an active student body—some of the first fraternities in the country were formed at NYU. With 12,500 residents, NYU has the seventh largest university housing system in the U.S. and the largest among private schools.

Today, NYU is particularly known for its programs in the social sciences, philosophy, business, law, and the performing arts. NYU counts 31 Nobel Prize winners; 9 National Medal of Science recipients; 12 Pulitzer Prize winners; 19 Academy Award winners; several Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award winners and MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowship holders among its past and present graduates and faculty.

Created as an institution of higher learning open to all and appropriate for all, the university’s commitment to these ideals remains unchanged. As seen in the number of successful alumni, NYU provides an excellent education leading to the mastery of knowledge and skills in diverse areas. Those who graduate from NYU influence the world. However, whether they advance a world of peace, harmony, and prosperity that will bring true happiness to all humankind depends not only on their gaining mastery but also on achieving good character and an understanding of humankind as a whole, aspects of education that depends less on intellect and more on the heart.

Mission & Reputation

Albert Gallatin

A group of prominent New York City residents – the city's landed class of merchants, bankers, and traders – established NYU on April 18, 1831. These New Yorkers believed the city needed a university designed for young men who would be admitted based on merit, not birthright or social class. Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson, is cited as the founder. Jefferson had declared his intention to establish “in this immense and fast-growing city … a system of rational and practical education fitting for all and graciously open to all.”[1]

At that time, 1831, most students in American colleges and universities were members of the privileged classes. Albert Gallatin and the University’s founding fathers planned NYU as a center of higher learning that would be "open to all, regardless of national origin, religious beliefs, or social background."[1]

Thus, NYU was created non-denominational, unlike many American colonial colleges at the time.[2]

Today, NYU is particularly known for its programs in the social sciences, philosophy, business, law, and the performing arts.


The University Heights campus, now home to the Bronx Community College.

On April 21, 1831, the new institution received its charter and was incorporated as the University of the City of New York by the New York State Legislature; older documents often refer to it by that name. The university has been popularly known as New York University since its beginning and was officially renamed New York University in 1896. In 1832, NYU held its first classes in rented rooms of four-story Clinton Hall, situated near City Hall.[2] In 1835, the School of Law, NYU's first professional school, was established.

The Silver Center circa 1900

Whereas NYU had its Washington Square campus since its founding, the university purchased a campus at University Heights in the Bronx because of overcrowding on the old campus. NYU also had a desire to follow New York City's development further uptown. NYU's move to the Bronx occurred in 1894, spearheaded by the efforts of Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken.[2] The University Heights campus was far more spacious than its predecessor was. As a result, most of the university’s operations along with the undergraduate College of Arts and Science and School of Engineering were housed there. With most of NYU's operations transferred to the new campus, the Washington Square campus declined; only the law school remained there until the establishment of Washington Square College in 1914. This college would become the downtown arts and sciences division of NYU.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, financial crisis gripped the New York City government and the troubles spread to the city’s institutions, including NYU.[3] Feeling the pressures of imminent bankruptcy, NYU President James McNaughton Hester negotiated the sale of the University Heights campus to the City University of New York, which occurred in 1973. After the sale of the Bronx campus, University College merged with Washington Square College. In the 1980s, under the leadership of President John Brademas, NYU launched a billion-dollar campaign that was spent almost entirely on updating facilities. In 2003 current President John Sexton launched a 2.5-billion dollar campaign for funds to be spent especially on faculty and financial aid resources.[4]


The university logo, the upheld torch, is derived from the Statue of Liberty, signifying NYU's service to the city of New York. The torch is depicted on both the NYU seal and the more abstract NYU logo, designed in 1965 by renowned graphic artist Ivan Chermayeff. There are two versions of the origin of the university color, violet. Some believe that it may have been chosen because violets are said to have grown abundantly in Washington Square and around the buttresses of the Old University Building. Others argue that the color may have been adopted because the violet was the flower associated with Athens, the center of learning in ancient Greece.


Most of NYU's buildings are scattered across a roughly square area bounded by Houston Street to the south, Broadway to the east, 14th Street to the north, and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to the west. Most of NYU's buildings surround Washington Square Park.

Washington Square campus

The Washington Square Arch, with NYU's Kimmel Center in the background

Since the late 1970s, the central part of NYU has been its Washington Square campus in the heart of Greenwich Village. Despite being public property the Washington Square Arch is the unofficial symbol of NYU. Every year NYU holds its commencement ceremonies in Washington Square Park.

In the 1990s, NYU became a "two square" university by building a second community around Union Square, about a 10-minute walk from Washington Square. NYU's Union Square community primarily consists of the sophomore priority residence halls of Carlyle Court, Palladium Residence Hall, Alumni Hall, Coral Tower, Thirteenth Street Hall, and freshmen residence halls Third North Residence Hall and University Hall.

NYU operates theaters and performance facilities that are often used by the University's music conservatory and Tisch School of the Arts. External productions are also occasionally held in NYU's facilities. The largest performance accommodations at NYU are the Skirball Center for Performing Arts (850 seats) at 566 LaGuardia Place, just south of Washington Square South; and the Eisner-Lubin Auditorium (560 seats) in the Kimmel Center. Recently, the Skirball Center hosted important speeches on foreign policy by John Kerry[5] and Al Gore.[6] The Skirball Center is the largest performing arts facility south of 42nd Street.[7][8]

Bobst Library

A view of the interior of Bobst

The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, built between 1967 and 1972, is the largest library at NYU and one of the largest academic libraries in the U.S. Designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, the 12-story, 425,000 square feet (39,000 m²) structure sits on the southern edge of Washington Square Park and is the flagship of an eight-library, 4.5 million volume system. The library is visited by more than 6,500 users each day, and circulates almost one million books annually.[9] In addition to its regular collection it houses special collections and archives, including the Archives of Irish America and the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives.

In late 2003, Bobst Library was the site of two suicides. Two students jumped from the open-air crosswalks inside the library onto the marble floor below. The students later died of their injuries.[10] After the second suicide, NYU installed plexi-glass windows on each level to prevent further attempts. In 2003, Bobst Library was also in the news for being the home of a homeless student who resided at the library because he could not afford student housing.[11][12]

Other campuses and facilities

The main NYU Medical Campus is situated at the East River waterfront at First Ave. between East 30th and East 34th Streets. The campus hosts the Medical School, Tisch Hospital, and the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. Other NYU Centers across the city include NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Bellevue Hospital Center. NYU’s Ehrenkranz School of Social Work manages branch campus programs in Westchester County at Manhattanville College and in Rockland County at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

La Maison Française

In Sterling Forest, near Tuxedo, New York, NYU has a research facility that contains institutes, in particular the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine. The Midtown Center at 11 West 42nd Street and the Woolworth Building in the financial district are home to NYU's continuing education programs.

NYU has a host of foreign facilities used for study abroad programs. Most noteworthy is the 57-acre campus of NYU Florence Villa LaPietra in Italy, bequeathed by the late Sir Harold Acton to NYU in 1994.[13] NYU manages undergraduate academic year study abroad programs in Florence, London, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Accra, and Madrid; and recently started programs in Shanghai and Buenos Aires. On June 1, 2007, NYU announced plans to develop a campus in Israel with Tel Aviv University. The program is scheduled to begin accepting students for the 2008-2009 academic year.[14] The government of the United Arab Emirates has announced plans to fund a campus abroad for NYU in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, the first of its kind to be established abroad by a major US research university, which is set to receive students by 2010.[15]

NYU also has international houses on campus, including the Deutsches Haus, La Maison Française, the Glucksman Ireland House, Casa Italiana, the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, the Hagop Kevorkian Center, an Africa House and a China House. NYU was also the founding member of the League of World Universities.

Residence halls

Washington Square Village, home to NYU faculty and graduate students

Uniquely, many of NYU's residence halls are converted apartment complexes or old hotels. Most freshman residence halls are in the Washington Square area. While nearly all of the residence halls that primarily house upperclassmen are in the Union Square area, three of them are located in the Financial District. The university operates its own transit system to transport its students, by bus, to campus. Undergraduate students are guaranteed housing during their enrollment at NYU. Twenty-one buildings are in NYU's undergraduate housing system. In general, NYU residence halls receive favorable ratings, and some are opulent. Many rooms are spacious and contain amenities considered rare for individual college residence hall rooms, such as kitchens and living rooms/common areas.[16] All the residence halls are governed by the Inter-Residence Hall Council (IRHC), an umbrella student council organization. In 2007, the National Association of College and University Residence Halls named NYU the National School of the Year for IRHC and NRHH's strong efforts over the past year. In addition, NYU was awarded National Program of the Year for UltraViolet Live, the annual inter-hall competition that raises funds for Relay For Life.


Flags identify NYU buildings in the city. This flag is for the Gallatin School of Individualized Study

New York University is comprised of 15 colleges, schools, and divisions. The College of Arts and Science was the first and only school when NYU was founded. The other undergraduate schools include: the Gallatin School of Individualized Study; the School of Social Work; the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development - the first school of education in the United States; the Stern School of Business; and Tisch School of the Arts. A number of these schools also offer graduate and professional programs.

In addition, the University offers programs in postgraduate schools and divisions: the College of Dentistry, the College of Nursing, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Fine Arts, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Arts and Science, and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

NYU closed their School of Aeronautics in 1973, their College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1922, and merged other previous programs with other schools. For example, their School of Engineering was merged with the Polytechnic University of New York in 1973, and NYU's former College Hofstra Memorial is Hofstra University as of 1963.

Student life

Student government

The Student Senators Council is the governing student body at NYU. The SSC has been involved in controversial debates on campus, including the Graduate Student Organizing Committee unionization in 2001[17] and subsequent strike in 2005.[18]

Student organizations

NYU has over 350 student clubs and organizations on campus.[19] Apart from the sports teams, fraternities, sororities, and clubs that focus on fields of study, other organizations on campus focus on entertainment, arts, and culture. These organizations include various print media clubs: for instance, the daily newspaper the Washington Square News, comedy magazine The Plague, and the literary journals Washington Square Review and The Minetta Review, as well as student-run event producers such as the NYU Program Board and the Inter-Residence Hall Council.

A bus and trolley system transports students to and from the far ends of campus

During the University Heights era, an apparent rift evolved with some organizations distancing themselves from students from the downtown schools. The exclusive Philomathean Society operated from 1832-1888 (formally giving way in 1907 and reconstituted into the Andiron Club). Included among the Andiron’s regulations was “Rule No.11: Have no relations save the most casual and informal kind with the downtown schools”.[20] The Eucleian Society, rival to the Philomathean Society, was founded in 1832 and appears to have dissolved several times only to be reformed and is extant. The Knights of the Lamp was a social organization founded in 1914 at the School of Commerce. This organization met every full moon and had the glowworm as its mascot.[21] In addition, NYU’s first yearbook was formed by fraternities and "secret societies" at the university.[22]


New York University has traditions which have persisted across campuses.

Since 1885, the most spirited undergraduate class has been awarded “The Bun.” The award consisted of a bun enclosed in a long casket-like enclosure made of silver. The Bun was taken three times: in 1921, 1971, and 1981. The award was last returned in 2002 and currently resides in the Silver Center.[23]

Since the beginning of the twentieth century initiation ceremonies have welcomed incoming NYU freshmen. At the Bronx University Heights Campus, seniors grabbed unsuspecting first-year students and took them to a horse-watering trough. The freshmen were dunked head first into what was known colloquially as “the fountain of knowledge.” This underground initiation took place until the 1970s.[24] Today freshman take part in university sponsored activities during what is called "Welcome Week." In addition, throughout the year the University traditionally holds Apple Fest (an apple-themed country fest started at the University Heights campus), Violet Ball (a dance in the atrium of the library), Strawberry Fest (featuring New York City's longest Strawberry Shortcake), and the semi-annual Midnight Breakfast where Student Affairs administrators serve students free breakfast before finals.

Greek life

Greek or fraternity life first formed on the NYU campus in 1837 when Psi Upsilon chartered its Delta Chapter. The first fraternities at NYU were social ones. With their athletic, professional, intellectual, and service activities, later groups sought to attract students who also formed other groups. Since then, Greek letter organizations have proliferated to include 25 social fraternities and sororities.

Four governing boards oversee Greek life at the university. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) has jurisdiction over all 14 recognized fraternities on campus. Seven sororities are under the jurisdiction of the Panhellenic Council (PhC); four multicultural sororities maintain membership in the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). All three of the aforementioned boards are managed under the auspices of the Inter-Greek Council.

Greek organizations have historical significance at NYU. Both the Zeta Psi Fraternity of North America and Alpha Epsilon Pi were founded at NYU, with the former being chartered in 1847 and the latter chartered in 1913.[25] The NYU chapter of Delta Phi, founded in 1841, claims to be the longest continuously active fraternity chapter in the world. PhC features three national sororities and four local sororities. Notably, the first chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon was founded at NYU in 1917.[26]


NYU's sports teams are called the Violets, the colors being the trademarked hue "NYU Violet" and white; the school mascot is the bobcat. Almost all sporting teams participate in the NCAA's Division III and the University Athletic Association.

A hockey player during a game

While NYU has had All-American football players, the school has not had a varsity football team since the 1960s. Notable players include Hall of Famer Ken Strong (1956) and Ed Smith (1934), the model for the Heisman Trophy.[27] In the 1940 season, before a football game between NYU and Missouri, students protested against the "gentlemen's agreement" to exclude black athletes (at Missouri's request). The protest against this practice is the first time such protests were recorded to have occurred.[28]

The National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association (NIWFA) was founded by NYU freshmen Julia Jones and Dorothy Hafner.[29]

NYU’s rival, dictated by history and geography has been Columbia University, though it appears from older fight songs that Rutgers University was also NYU’s rival at some point.[30]

Male's volleyball in Cole's

NYU, in its short history in NCAA Division III, has won a single national team championship and many league championships. The basketball program has enjoyed a good deal of success since its return to intercollegiate competition. In 1997, the women’s basketball team, led by head coach Janice Quinn, won a national championship over the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and in 2007 returned to the Final Four. NYU men's basketball and head coach Joe Nesci appeared in the Division III National Championship game in 1994.

NYU men's and women's swimming teams captured consecutive (2004–2005) Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Swimming and Diving Championships. Christian Majdick of the men’s track and field team captured the NCAA Division III championship for the triple jump in 2003. Lauren Henkel, one of the most successful athletes in NYU track and field history, and the current assistant coach of the women's track and field team, acquired All-American status three times for High Jump. The men’s soccer team won its league ECAC championship in the 2005–2006 season.

NYU students also compete in club and intramural sports, including lacrosse, crew, squash, rugby, badminton, ice hockey, baseball, softball, equestrian, martial arts, ultimate frisbee, and triathlon. The Coles Sports and Recreation Center serves as the home base of several of NYU's intercollegiate athletic teams. Many of NYU's varsity teams play their games at various facilities and fields throughout Manhattan because of the scarcity of space for playing fields near campus. In 2002, NYU opened the Palladium Athletic Facility as the second on-campus recreational facility.

Faculty and alumni

NYU counts 31 Nobel Prize winners; 9 National Medal of Science recipients; 12 Pulitzer Prize winners; 19 Academy Award winners, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award winners; and MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowship holders among its past and present graduates and faculty. NYU faculty are active in instruction on the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as active in research.[31]

As befitting the largest private non-profit university in the country, NYU has one of the largest alumni bodies in the world. At the end of 2004, NYU had about 350,000 alumni. Of these, at least 17,000 lived abroad.[32] The New York University Office for Alumni Affairs oversees the various activities, such as class reunions, local NYU Club gatherings, NYU alumni travel, and Career Services. The Alumni club on campus is the Torch Club. Notable graduating classes include 1941, which graduated three later Nobel Prize laureates (Julius Axelrod, Gertrude B. Elion and Clifford Shull), Olympic Gold Medalist John Woodruff, sportscaster Howard Cosell, and sociologist Morris Janowitz; and 1977 included former Federal Reserve System Chairman Alan Greenspan; IRS Commissioner Mark Everson; INSEAD Dean Gabriel Hawawini; Pulitzer, Oscar and Tony Award winner John Patrick Shanley; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; and NASDAQ CEO Robert Greifeld.


  1. 1.0 1.1 History of NYU NYU History. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Window into the Past: NYU in Retrospect by Evan J. Friss, New York University Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  3. F. Michael Angelo, NYU Today, September 27, 1989NYU and the Village: History - New York University Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  4. NYU Kicks Off $2.5 Billion Campaign - NYU Office for University Development and Alumni relations. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  5. Speech at New York University -, April 20, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  6. Former Vice President Al Gore Remarks - August 7, 2003. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  7. The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts - NYU Office for University Development and Alumni Relations. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  8. Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life, NYU - Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates LLC.
  9. About the NYU Libraries - NYU Libraries, June 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  10. Marsha Kranes and Kate Murray. Film Puts Focus on NYU Suicides New York Post, July 25, 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  11. Living at the Library: The Bobst Library's Tenant - Gothamist, April 27, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  12. Broke student 'slept in library' - BBC News, April 28, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  13. NYU marks years of successful restoration at La Pietra - NYU Today. Vol. 16 No. 1, September 5, 2002. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  14. NYU Announces Plans to Open Study Abroad Site in Israel - NYU Office of Public Affairs, June 1, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  15. Lynne Roberts. NYU Abu Dhabi gets green light October 14, 2007, accessdate 2007-10-26
  16. Meredith Turley. New York University: Off the Record. (College Prowler, 2006), 161.
  17. A Big Breakthrough for T.A. Unions by Scott Smallwood, The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2001. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  18. NYU graduate assistants pledge to continue strike by Richard M. Coe III. Daily Tar Heel, December 6, 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  19. New York University:Housing & Campus Life - College Board. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  20. Guide to the Andiron Club of New York City - New York University Archives Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  21. A Window Into the Past: NYU in Retrospect - New York University Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  22. 175 Facts About NYU - New York University Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  23. Facts About NYU - New York University Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  24. Evan Friss.Chronicles: A Look at NYU’s Past NYU Today 18 (1), September 13, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  25. History - Alpha Epsilon Pi - Kintera, Inc.. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  26. History and Traditions - Delta Phi Epsilon International Sorority. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  27. The Heisman Trophy - CSTV Networks, Inc. and
  28. Evelyn Witkin Reflects on Cold Spring Harbor's Golden Age - Exploratorium. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  29. The Organization - National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  30. Robert F. O'Brien. School Songs of America's Colleges and Universities: A Directory. (Greenwood Press, 1991, ISBN 9780313278907), 208.
  31. "Populist manifesto" - The president of New York University tells Joanna Walters that top universities on both sides of the Atlantic need to be jolted out of complacency and snobbery, [1]. - Guardian Unlimited. May 6, 2003. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  32. New York University Alumni - NYU Office of Development & Alumni Relations. Retrieved October 23, 2007.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Dim, Joan Marans and Nancy Murphy Cricco. The Miracle on Washington Square: New York University. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 2000. ISBN 0739102168
  • Frusciano, Tom and Marilyn Pettit. New York University and the City, an Illustrated History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997. ISBN 0813523478
  • Gitlow, Abrahm L., NYU's Stern School of Business: A Centennial Retrospective. New York, NY: NYU Press, 1995. ISBN 0814730779
  • Harris, Luther S., Around Washington Square : An Illustrated History of Greenwich Village. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. ISBN 080187341X
  • Jones, Theodore F., New York University, 1832 - 1932. Oxford University Press, 1933. ISBN 081470221X
  • O'Brien. Robert F., School Songs of America's Colleges and Universities: A Directory. Greenwood Press, 1991. ISBN 9780313278907
  • Tonne, Herbert A. (ed.), Early Leaders in Business Education at New York University. Reston, VA: National Business Education Association, 1981. ISBN 093396420X
  • Turley, Meredith. New York University: Off the Record. College Prowler, 2006. ISBN 9781427401021

External links

All links retrieved November 14, 2022.


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