Dec 06, 2013

When Nelson Mandela Gave NYU Wagner a Helping Hand

It is only a footnote in the life of a great historical figure, but the gesture of support that Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) made for NYU Wagner more than a decade ago marks a spectacular moment in the life of the public service graduate school.

Initially postponed by the September 11, 2001, attacks, the campus visit the following May by the Nobel Peace Prize recipient and leader of the emancipation of South Africa helped to catalyze an innovative Fellowship designed to bring students from Africa to Wagner to study public policy and management. His visit that day attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who provided generous financial support to launch the African Women's Public Service Fellowship.

Many dignitaries attended the event, where Mandela at the same time received NYU's Presidential Medal, and his appearance was punctuated by thunderous applause. But with quietly overpowering dignity, he delivered a simple message. The Wagner school's commitment to Africa represented an opportunity for mutual learning in the important work of nation and community building, and Mandela exhorted the next generation of public service leaders to take up the struggle for equality, justice, and liberty for all.

"The struggle for true and universal human emancipation still lies ahead of the children, youth and future generations," he said, in words that continue to resonate with urgency and truth.

The NYU Wagner community joins the world over in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela.





What's new at NYU Wagner?



  • WAGTalk: Daniel Smith, “Why Do Cities Go Bankrupt?”

    Professor Dan Smith discusses three of the biggest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history: Detroit, Michigan; Jefferson County, Alabama; and Stockton, California.
  • WAGTalk: Ingrid Gould Ellen, “Preserving History or Hindering Progress”

    The preservation of historic neighborhoods has been the subject of controversy in New York City and in cities around the country. Professor Ingrid Ellen sheds light on this debate.
    Urban Planning
  • WAGTalk: Jonathan Morduch, “U.S. Financial Diaries”

    The U.S. Financial Diaries project tracked the financial behaviors of 250 low-income American households.
  • NYU Wagner's 75th Celebration

    On June 12, 2014, NYU Wagner celebrated 75 years of public service education.
  • WAGTalk: John Billings, “Improving Care for High Cost/ High Risk Patients”

    Professor John Billings presents research that aims to identify and improve care for high cost/high risk Medicaid patients.