Reynolds Foundation Fellows Mingle with Washington, D.C. Elite

Reynolds Foundation Fellows Mingle with Washington, D.C. Elite

Reynolds Fellows on the steps of the Supreme Court

From March 24 to 26, more than 70 outstanding Reynolds Foundation Fellows in Social Entrepeneurship from both New York University and Harvard University met in Washington, D.C. to exchange ideas with 30 leaders in government, business, and medical research.

The gathering marked the first Social Entrepreneurship Summit of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, and also included representatives of the other scholarship programs supported by the Foundation, as well as the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Social Entrepreneurship Summit drew veterans of the last six presidential administrations, among them Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers; U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics; the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, General James L. Jones; Congressman John R. Lewis; Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health; Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU; labor leader Andy Stern; Carlyle Group Founder David Rubenstein; Pulitzer Prize recipients Rick Atkinson, Neil Sheehan and Donald Graham, Chairman of the Washington Post Company.

The Reynolds Fellows and other student delegates stayed at the historic Willard Hotel, just one block from the White House, and many of the Summit programs were held at the Willard, a center of Washington's social and political life since it first opened in 1818. On their first evening in Washington, the students were whisked to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States for an informal meeting with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Kennedy initiated a discussion of the Court's work and the constitutional issues it consider, and emphasized the importance of civil debate with a quotation from Justice John Marshall, "Rational discourse is the safeguard of freedom." The entire company remained at the Supreme Court for dinner with the Justices, where they heard welcoming remarks from Summit Host Catherine B. Reynolds.

The following morning, the Fellows met a series of exceptional speakers in the first symposium session of the Summit, held in an elegant and intimate meeting room of the Willard. The first speaker, Jacqueline Novogratz, is a prime example of the concept of social entrepreneurship. Founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund, she has channeled philanthropic contributions into self-sustaining enterprises that provide essential services to some of the poorest people on earth. Ms. Novogratz illustrated her address with vivid anecdotes of her experiences, from Africa to South Asia.

The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, engaged the Fellows in a passionate discussion of the importance of civil liberties in the atmosphere of heightened security prompted by the war on terror. He fielded students' questions.

The Summit also heard from the Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, Sonal Shah. The Indian-born economist is President Obama's liaison to social entrepreneurs and the nonprofit sector. David Rubenstein, who served as a domestic policy aide to President Jimmy Carter before founding The Carlyle Group, the private equity firm with interests in every sector of the economy, emphasized the importance of building on one's early accomplishments, rather than resting on one's laurels. The final speaker of the morning was a member of President Obama's Cabinet, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

The discussion of finance and government continued over lunch at the Willard, where the Fellows heard from the Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. A former president of Harvard,  his alma mater, Summers delivered a summary of current national economic issues, as well as educational issue dear to his heart, the importance of the mathematical study of probability.

In the afternoon session, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, and the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, engaged in a lively discussion of the federal government's role in medical research. Dr. Collins, a pioneer of genetic medicine, is now responsible for allocating the $31 billion the government appropriates for health research. Dr. Fauci, long a leader in the struggle against HIV-AIDS, touched on the current state of this effort. Both men stressed the need for transparency in medical research, which they weighed against the privacy concerns that arise from the collection of genetic and medical data.

The physician scientists were followed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. As a young infantry officer in Vietnam, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War, and as Secretary of State at the onset of current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has had a unique insight into the most crucial episodes of our history. A central figure in American foreign policy and national security for nearly 30 years, General Powell gave the Fellows the benefit of his incomparable perspective on world events, as well as that of his own inspiring life story.

Another participant with a unique insight into America's wars, past and present, was journalist and author Rick Atkinson. Recipient of multiple Pulitzer Prizes for reportage, and for his multi-volume account of the American army in World War II, he is also author of the most acclaimed account of the every day life of combat soldiers in Iraq.

Struggles of another kind were addressed by the last speaker of the afternoon, Andy Stern, President of America's fastest growing labor union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). He received an enthusiastic reception for his discussion of SEIU's work on behalf of some of the least visible workers in the American economy, and of SEIU's influential role in the landmark health care legislation--the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act--that had passed the House of Representatives the previous Sunday.

That evening, the Fellows traveled to Capitol Hill just as the Senate was preparing for a final reconciliation vote on amendments to the health care bill. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine received one group briefly in her office before taking to the Senate floor to cast her vote. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi received the other Fellows in his Capitol retreat, alongside the Senate floor, with a breathtaking view of the monuments. A number of Fellows watched history in the making from the Senators' private gallery as the reconciliation package received the approval of the Senate and was sent to the White House for the President's signature, the last act in a political drama that had consumed Washington for more than a year.

The Fellows had dinner in the Mike Mansfield Room, adjacent to the floor of the House of Representatives, where they were met by someone familiar to the Reynolds Fellows from Harvard's Kennedy School: David Gergen, former advisor to four U.S. Presidents and now the Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School. Mr. Gergen introduced three prominent members of the House of Representatives--Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Dingell of Michigan and John R. Lewis of Georgia--and asked them to share the stories of their own life journeys. The distinguished legislators obliged.

The third Congressman to speak was an American hero--and living legend of the Civil Rights Movement--John R. Lewis. In powerful words, he recalled the rise of the nonviolent protest movement--the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides--and the harassment, arrests and physical attacks he and his comrades stoically endured, including the near-fatal beating he received leading a voting rights march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama. That he has now served more than 20 years in Congress, representing constituents who were long denied the right to vote, is a testament to the vitality of American democracy, and a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy were purchased by countless acts of courage, like those of Rep. Lewis.

After dinner, the party was joined by a surprise guest, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, fresh from her legislative victory in the protracted health care debate. The Speaker was received with an emotional ovation from the Summit Fellows, conscious of the momentous nature of the occasion. She offered thanks to President Obama for his tenacity in the long campaign, and recalled a lesson taught by her father, himself a Congressman and Mayor of Baltimore. Many things are valued in the political process, he told her, but in the end, only one thing determines success or failure. "Get the votes," she said, beaming. "And this time, I got the votes."

Returning to the Willard after dinner, the assembly heard from writers with profound insight into two agonizing chapters of American history. Jay Winik, the acclaimed author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America, discussed the enduring legacy of President Abraham Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War. Neil Sheehan first won recognition as a courageous Vietnam War correspondent and later received the Pulitzer Prize for A Bright Shining Lie, one of the most lasting books to emerge from that conflict. Sheehan discussed the tragic complexities of America's involvement in Vietnam, and the lingering effect of the war on our country today.

Additional presentations on Friday were made by: Donald Graham, Chairman of the Washington Post Company, which also publishes Newsweek and Slate; former Mayor of Indianapolis, Steven Goldsmith, now a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School;  Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the D.C. schools, who began her career as a young leader of the Teach for America program; and  Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP--America's Health Insurance Plans.

For Friday's luncheon the assembly moved to historic Blair House. Known as the President's Guest House, this mansion, originally built in 1824, has welcomed foreign heads of state since its acquisition by the federal government during World War II. Its splendid interior is rarely seen by the general public, but the Summit Fellows were treated to a rare tour of its spacious rooms and tranquil courtyard. At Blair House, the Fellows received a summary of defense issues from the President's National Security Advisor, General James L. Jones.

The national security theme was developed further as the company was taken on a bus trip to Langley, Virginia, and the offices of the Central Intelligence Agency, where the Fellows received a tour and briefing, followed by a visit with one of America's most respected public servants, CIA Director Leon Panetta. A former U.S. Congressman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Chief of Staff to President Clinton, Panetta helped dispel some of the aura of mystery surrounding the nation's intelligence services.

At the end of the long day, the Summit participants returned to the Willard Hotel for a reception in the Crystal Room and a final dinner in the elegant Willard Room. Over dinner, David Gergen introduced a series of speakers drawn from the ranks of the Reynolds Fellows, and from the other programs that enjoy the support of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.

The administrative home of the NYU Reynolds Program is the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. The current class of 36 Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellows at New York University were represented at the Summit by Magogodi Makhene. Ms. Makhene grew up in Soweto, South Africa during the last years of apartheid. As a Reynolds Graduate Fellow at New York University's Gallatin School, she is studying the use of private equity and venture capital as vehicles for economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. The final speaker of the Summit, Cesar Francia, grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. He studied International Politics as a Reynolds Fellow at New York University and he will soon be returning to NYU to earn a Master's in Public Administration. He is currently serving as a full-time aide in the office of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

NYU Wagner Showcases Students' 2009-10 Capstone Projects

NYU Wagner Showcases Students' 2009-10 Capstone Projects

The Captone Program: End Event, May 5, 2010

The Capstone Program -- learning in action -- is a crowning achievement in the life of every NYU Wagner student. On May 5th, members of 76 student teams displayed their advanced consulting work for urban, national, and global organizations at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. Hundreds of visitors to this dynamic Capstone End Event learned about the teams' analyses, field work, and advice covering such critical areas as New York City recruitment of female firefighters, a major hospital's geriatric services, the landmarking policies of small and large cities, and the progress and opportunity for growth in international governance on climate change.

Focus on Faculty: Zhan Guo, Assistant Professor, Urban Planning & Transportation

Focus on Faculty: Zhan Guo, Assistant Professor, Urban Planning & Transportation

Zhan Guo, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Transportation

Zhan Guo joined the Wagner faculty in August, 2008, as an assistant professor of urban policy and transportation planning, and a research fellow at the Rudin Center for Transportation and Planning. Zhan decided that he wanted to pursue a career in academia while in graduate school. "Before that I thought maybe I wanted to do something industry-related, but when I was in graduate school, I figured out academics and research is probably the best fit for me and my personality."

What are your current research projects?
I'm doing research on people's travel behaviors with the goal of encouraging them to use cars less and to use more sustainable, alternative travel modes such as public transit, bicycles, or walking more. I'm interested in how we can change peoples' behaviors to promote transportation sustainability and reduce car dependency, pollution, carbon emission, and congestion, and to improve health and safety. Under this umbrella, I'm working on several different topics.

I'm studying how the pedestrian environment in Boston affects peoples' walking behavior. How much people like or dislike walking is very much determined by how good the pedestrian environment is, so I want to measure that impact and figure out how to improve the "walkable environment."

In NYC, I'm looking at how the residential parking supply affects the decision whether or not to have a car in the city, and if you have a car, whether or not to use it. For example, if you have only on-street parking available, you may not want to use your car a lot because once you leave your spot, it's hard to find another one. But if you have a garage, maybe that's not so important to you. So the parking supply affects whether or not you use a car and how many cars you have.

I'm also researching a particular transportation-financing mechanism. For example, right now we have a gas tax. Some people argue that the gas tax will be gone in 15-20 years because of more fuel-efficient and electronic vehicles. What if we went to a mileage-based fee and charged people based on the distance they drive and not on the gas consumed? How would that affect peoples' behavior and travel decisions?
I just finished a project on how the transit map affects peoples' travel decisions on public transit in London. The way in which you see the transit map will affect which line you decide to take. However, the map can distort reality and give you wrong message if, for instance, the pass is actually longer in reality and shorter on map. Interestingly, I found that people trust the map more than their own experience.

How did you become interested in studying transportation and land use, public transit, and pedestrian behavior?
I was trained as a designer in college and grad school-I have a bachelor in architecture from Tianjin University (Tianjin, China), and master in urban planning and design from Tsinghua University in Beijing-and all my research is on urban-oriented issues. Much of my research looks at the physical environment and how policy and infrastructure regulate and affect the physical environment.

This summer, you're teaching a class in Shanghai called Urbanization and Sustainable Development in a Transitional Economy: Experiencing China. Can you tell me about it?
I teach urban planning primarily in a U.S. context. The situation is so different in China that it's good to have a comparative perspective. The idea is that the metro areas in China are the biggest labs on urban development. You see all kinds of urban issues that are different than in the U.S. The first issue is rapid urbanization. Within 15-20 years, more than 200,000,000 people (almost 2/3 the population of the U.S.) will move from rural areas to urban areas in China.

The second factor is rapid economic growth: eight, nine or even 10% GDP growth per year for the last 30 years, which will probably continue for the next 20-30 years. That's compared to one or two percent yearly growth in the States. With that type of growth, everything changes very fast. For example, five to 10 years ago, just a very minor portion of people in China owned a car. Now China is the number one auto producer and consumer in the world.

The third factor is institutional transition. Thirty years ago, China had a very centralized economy, but it has rapidly transitioned to a market econony, albeit with no regulations, unions, or labor laws, due to the communist political system that's still in power.
What is the best part about working at Wagner?
From faculty research point-of-view, this is a very interdisciplinary school, and my research into peoples' travel behavior is also interdisciplinary: we are talking about economic leverage, urban planning, transportation infrastructure, psychology, and the social and societal influence. I like that I can reach out to different colleagues to help me refine my thinking from different prospectives. It's a great help to my research.

From a practical point-of-view, the environment of New York City is a good fit for my research, which is tied to empirical analysis. I look at parking behavior and policy, so if I want to talk to decision-makers at the DCP (City Department of Planning) and the DOT (City Department of Transportation), I can. It's a good environment to help me reach my academic goals.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Staying connected to colleagues in the planning academic community, since Wagner's is a small planning program in a school of public policy and management, and most planning programs are in planning schools.

What's the best thing about living in New York?
The public transportation and parking.

Look Hard at Legacy of 'Heroic Leadership,' urges RCLA executive director

Look Hard at Legacy of 'Heroic Leadership,' urges RCLA executive director

Bethany Godsoe, executive director of NYU Wagner's Research Center on Leadership and Action, examines what she calls the "bravado of heroic leadership," and its troubling legacy, in an essay inspired by her participation in the National Urban Fellows' "Call to Action Summit on Diversity" held Apr. 21 in Washington, D.C.

NYU Wagner's Paul Light Launches 'Light on Leadership' Blog In The Washington Post

NYU Wagner's Paul Light Launches 'Light on Leadership' Blog In The Washington Post

Professor Paul Light has launched a new blog for the Washington Post entitled "Light on Leadership: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom with NYU Wagner's Paul Light." Light's online commentary on the national government will appear every Thursday on the newspaper's website. His debut column April 15, 2010, "Slimming the Federal Leadership" -- coauthored by Russ Feingold, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and member of the Senate Budget Committee -- drew more than 300,000 hits.

His second column (Apr. 22, 2010) focuses on CEO compensation levels at nonprofit organizations. His latest (June 3, 2010), looks at what President Obama can learn from the oil spill debacle.

Professor Light is NYU Wagner's Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service and founding principal investigator of the school's Organizational Performance Initiative. 

Campaign for High Performance Government Established

Campaign for High Performance Government Established

Drawing upon decades of experience, leaders in public service have announced their intent to establish the Campaign for High Performance Government, a non partisan working group to encourage urgently needed reform of the federal government's administrative practices.

Economist and former chair of two national commissions on public service reform, Paul A. Volcker made the announcement at the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) as part of the Elliot Richardson Lecture series.

"We must place public service reform squarely on the federal agenda.  Too much of what government achieves is at risk without wide-ranging changes to improve performance and restore trust."

Funded by a grant from the sponsor of The Truman Medal for Economic Policy and supported in part by The Robertson Foundation for Government, and the NYU/Abu Dhabi Center for Global Public Service and Social Impact, the Campaign for High Performance Government is designed to re-introduce Congress and the Administration to well documented reform proposals, including those in the two earlier reports of the National Commission on Public Service, both of which were chaired by Paul A. Volcker.

The Campaign for High Performance Government will address the continued erosion of the federal government's capacity to faithfully execute the laws.  Its goal is to reverse what the first Volcker Commission called the "profound erosion of public trust."   Recently, the Gallup poll found that Americans now estimate that 50 cents of every federal dollar is wasted, a reflection of the erosion of confidence in the ability of government to perform efficiently and ably.

The Campaign for High Performance Government will be anchored at NYU's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.  It will focus on identifying strategies for urgently needed action and analysis for the reform effort.  

According to the Campaign director, Paul C. Light, NYU Wagner School of Public Service Professor, Robertson Foundation for Government Advisory Board member, and founding director the new NYU/Abu Dhabi Center for Global Public Service and Social Impact, "Well publicized breakdowns in the federal bureaucracy, whether in managing national security, in contracting practices, or in unwarranted political influence are symptoms of the government wide need to achieve reliable high performance."

The campaign will focus on a series of previous proposals including:

       -- Reform of the excessively time consuming presidential appointments process

       -- Need to reduce duplication and overlap across federal agencies

       -- Civil Service changes in recruitment, training, retaining and deployment

As Light noted, "We need the right federal employees in the right place at the right time with enough resources to deliver on the promises we make today."

The Campaign for High Performance Government will start its work to translate the specific recommendations into action with support for Senators Feingold and McCain's legislation to reduce the number of presidential appointees, and restore the president's fast-track reorganization authority that expired in 1984.

The former Chairman of the Federal Reserve noted that the Obama Administration has signaled its support for federal government reform.

"The Administration is working to make government more transparent, examine contract fraud, and improve the hiring process.  But much more needs to be done."

According to Volcker, this is a particularly important time to push forward on public service excellence.

"Public demand for results is high, but confidence remains low; interest in public service of all kinds is clear, but service in federal agencies remains a questioned destination at both the top and bottom of the hierarchy; the need for a high performance government is undeniable, but seems just out of reach when crisis strikes."  Speaking of the need for immediate action, he concluded that "A great society deserves no less."

Paul A. Volcker's full remarks can be found here.

An evening with Henry Kissinger elicits his views on the Middle East

An evening with Henry Kissinger elicits his views on the Middle East

Henry Kissinger and NYU Wagner Visiting Prof. Michael Doran discuss U.S. strategies in the Middle East at an Apr. 7 forum co-sponsored by Wagner.

NYU Wagner and the New-York Historical Society sponsored a conversation with Dr. Henry A. Kissinger on Wednesday, April 7th at the Metropolitan Club. Dean Ellen Schall, together with Roger Hertog and Louise Mirrer, the Chairman and the President, respectively, of the Historical Society, invited guests to an evening of Dr. Kissinger discussing Middle East strategy with NYU Wagner Visiting Professor Michael Doran, an expert on the international politics of the Middle Middle East. Dr. Kissinger toured the horizon, discussing the interlocking strategic dilemmas facing the Obama administration throughout the region -- from the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan to the difficulty of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and from the international need to stop the Iranian nuclear program to the prospect of working with the Russians to solve problems of mutual concern.

Wagner visiting professors Ford and Manji named among "Top 25" centrist voices in US

Wagner visiting professors Ford and Manji named among "Top 25" centrist voices in US

Irshad Manji and Harold Ford, each of whom teaches at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate of Public Service at NYU, rank among the top 25 "most influential voices of the American center," according to the online magazine The Daily Beast.

Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University and visiting scholar, and Ford, distinguished practitioner in residence and former congressman, are part of what the April 1, 2010, salute describes as a "powerful backlash brewing - a movement of voices from the vital center who are declaring their independence from play-to-the-base politics."

"The independent thinker doesn't belong to a camp," Manji has written. "She belongs to her conscience."

2010 Public Service Career Expo Attracts Over 100 Employers

2010 Public Service Career Expo Attracts Over 100 Employers

2010 Public Service Career Expo

The 2010 Public Service Career Expo was extremely successful. More than 300 students and alumni from five nationally recognized schools of public affairs attended, with just over 100 employers participating, 96 of them with the goal of recruiting candidates for existing jobs and internships.

Both students and employers offered postiive feedback about the diverse representation of public service organizations at the March 11th Expo, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Manhattan. Among the participating organizations were: Accenture; Fitch Ratings; Moody's Investor's Service; Citizens Budget Commission; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; International Rescue Commitee; UNDP & UNICEF; New Leaders for New Schools; Congressional Research Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; New York City Department of Environmental Protection; New York City Economic Development Corp., and many others.

In addition to NYU Wagner, this year's Expo consortium of schools included Carnegie Mellon, Heinz College, School of Public Policy & Management; Duke University's Terry Sanford School of Public Policy; The George Washington University Trachetenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration; and Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenshp & Public Affairs.

A "Top Secret" Battle and What It Means for Us Today

A "Top Secret" Battle and What It Means for Us Today

Geoff Cowan, Bob Shrum, and Mitchell Stephens discuss Top Secret after the play.

Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, by playwright Geoffrey Cowan, explores the secret history of the U.S.'s decision to escalate involvement in the Vietnam War, while simultaneously telling the American public that it was trying to get out. The play, which is based on interviews with the participants and on actual trial transcripts, details the government's attempt to suppress classified information in the "Pentagon Papers," under the guise that publication would have dire consequences for national security, by suing both The New York Times and the Washington Post to prevent publication. A showdown between the government and the Post ensued, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Post, as it became apparent that much of the "classified" information was, in fact, already part of the public domain.

Led by a spirited cast, Top Secret is a funny, smart, and engaging illumination of the relationship between a press that's supposed to be free and independent and the U.S. government. It resonates with younger generations, as well as those who lived through it, as issues of free speech, and the government's attempts to suppress it, continue to pervade our society.

The February 25 performance of Top Secret was followed by a conversation between Geoff Cowan; Bob Shrum, senior fellow at NYU Wagner; and Mitchell Stephens, professor of journalism and mass communication at NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Stephens identified this as a "noble" moment in American history, when American culture really started to resent and repel government secrecy.

This was the first time that the establishment attacked an objective press for reporting on issues of national security, and it led to a public distrust that culminated in Watergate.

While we still see examples of secrecy within the government-the torture photographs from Abu Ghraib blocked by the Justice Department, for example-the press generally behaves more responsibly than critics imagine. In fact, according to Stephens, there are no incidents in American history when the mainstream press has jeopardized national security by printing "sensitive" information. Moreover, the influx of technology, especially the Internet, has made it more difficult for the government to keep secrets from the press and the public, both nationally and around the world.

So how does the press make the decision to publish information that could be damaging to the U.S.? It comes down to the idea that restraint is inconsistent under the First Amendment, but that doesn't mean there aren't arguments for not printing sensitive information. It will only take one time for a bit of information to get in the wrong hands, and the consequences could be devastating. Therefore, as Bob Shrum pointed out, increased freedom of the press must lead to increased responsibility by the press.

The truth is that the government can still stop the printing of stories, and newspapers today certainly don't have the financial security to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. government. But the U.S. Supreme Court's ability to enforce the First Amendment remains a bastion of the rights of free speech.

Prof. Rodwin and other health policy experts back President Obama's healthcare reform

Prof. Rodwin and other health policy experts back President Obama's healthcare reform

Victor Rodwin, professor of health policy and management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, is one of the cosigners of a public letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, calling for passage of the president's comprehensive overhaul of the nation's health care system.

"Our health care system is in crisis," the letter begins. At another point it adds, "the only workable process at this point is to use the President's proposal to finish the job."

Among the cosigners are Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and behavioral economist; David Cutler and Len Nichols, who have advised Congress on health policy in the past year; Theda Skocpol, political scientist; Henry Aaron of The Brookings Institution; and Paul Starr, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of medical care.

The letter was drafted in late February after the nationally televised health care summit led by President Obama showed the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of health care reform.

Financial Access Initiative research on the unbanked cited in House testimony

Financial Access Initiative research on the unbanked cited in House testimony

The Financial Access Initiative, a research consortium of leading development economists that is focused on substantially expanding access to financial services for low-income individuals worldwiide, was cited by U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) at a hearing on the future of the microfinance poverty-fighting strategy on Jan. 27 conducted by the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology.  Among other facts, Rep. Maffei noted FAI's finding that 2.5 billion people currently have no savings or credit account with a tradition or alternative financial institution (see study "Half the World is Unbanked, Oct., 2009) The congressman's videotaped remarks begin at minute 19:28 here.

Additionally, FAI research was cited at the hearing in testimony by Susy Cheston of Opportunity International (see P. 6).

The Financial Access Initiative is housed at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Its managing director and lead researcher is Jonathan Morduch, professor of public policy and economics at NYU Wagner.

NYU Wagner co-sponsors Irving H. Jurow Lecture on 'The Fate of Conservatism'

NYU Wagner co-sponsors Irving H. Jurow Lecture on 'The Fate of Conservatism'

Wagner Prof. Bob Shrum and NY Times' Sam Tanenhaus at NYU Jurow Lecture

Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of The New York Times Book Review and Week in Review and the author of "The Death of Conservatism," delivered the 11th Irving H. Jurow Lecture at NYU's Silver Center for Arts and Science on February 1. David Oshinsky, Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor at NYU and Jack S. Blanton Chair of the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, offered introductory remarks. A panel discussion was moderated by Oshinsky, with Ellen Schall, the Dean of NYU Wagner and the Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy and Management; Robert Shrum, Senior Fellow, NYU Wagne and author of "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner"; and Tannenhaus.

The event was co=sponsored by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and the College of Arts and Science at NYU.




Furman Center Releases New Report on Foreclosed Properties in New York City

Furman Center Releases New Report on Foreclosed Properties in New York City

On January 14, 2010, the Furman Center released a new report, Foreclosed Properties in NYC: A Look at the Last 15 Years.  The report analyzes the outcomes of 1-4 family properties that entered foreclosure in New York City between 1993 and 2007, paying particular attention to trends in recent years.  While foreclosure filings continue to rise, little is known about what happens to those properties-how many homeowners are able to stay in their home, how many sell their homes, how many complete the foreclosure process and end up in REO.  This report sheds new light on these questions. View the press release.

President Obama Highlights Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

President Obama Highlights Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

"In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."
-President Barack Obama, 1/27/10

In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama highlighted the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program, a part of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, allows some federal student loan borrowers who work in the public and nonprofit sectors to have remaining loan balances forgiven after 10 years of qualifying employment and loan repayment.

To learn more about the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, please visit our Web site.



The post-racial conversation one year later, with NYU Wagner's Irshad Manji

The post-racial conversation one year later, with NYU Wagner's Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji

ONE YEAR after the inauguration of America's first African-American president, MSNBC presented "Hope and Fear in Obama's America: 2010" on Monday, January 18, a lively, extended discussion on race held at Texas Southern State University with national thought leaders, including NYU Wagner Visiting Scholar Irshad Manji -- the director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. Tune in Manji's comments and offer your own.

WagNerds win volleyball championship!

WagNerds win volleyball championship!

WagNerds co-ed volleyball champions.

The co-ed WagNerds volleyball team was dazzling enough to win this year's NYU Intramural championship! It accomplished this impressive feat after finishing the semester with a won-loss record of 5-1 in the regular season. It then went on to win five more games -- and captured the 32-team, year-end tournament held in December.

In the finals, the NYU Wagner team defeated the Ballerz team by a score of 25-9 / 25-1 -- something that would have been impossible without the huge cheering section from Wagner and the crucial help all along of Christina DeCesare, Secretary of the Wagner Student Association (WSA), who coordinates Wagner's intramural programs.

Team members who participated in the playoff games included: Trish Bertuccio; Danielle Gilbert; Luke Heinkel; Jake Leos-Urbel; Noah Levine; Michael Lobiondo; Fedor Novikov; Jared Pruzman; Rebecca Smith; and Virginia Zuco.

The next season starts in the spring with a men's volleyball league and a women's volleyball league, along with many other sports groupings. Students who want to play on any of the teams can contact Christina to sign up.


Brademas Center report calls for a role for arts in enhancing America's global image

Brademas Center report calls for a role for arts in enhancing America's global image

The 2008 election of Barack Obama has offered an historic opportunity for the restoration of America's image around the world. In January 2009, the John Brademas Center of NYU Wagner convened a group of experts to explore the public policy implications for American arts and culture of a renewed focus on U.S. public diplomacy, and issued a call for an expansion of international arts and cultural exchanges in the service of this new direction. A December, 2009, report from the Brademas Center is the result of their expert opinions and deliberations, including those of Wagner's Professor Ruth Ann Stewart, a coauthor of the report. The report, aimed at the President and Congress,  is entitled "Moving Forward: A Renewed Role for American Arts and Artists in the Global Age."

Furman Center releases new study on racial segregation and subprime lending

Furman Center releases new study on racial segregation and subprime lending

On November 19, 2009, the Furman Center released a new report examining the relationship between residential segregation and subprime lending. The study examined whether the likelihood that borrowers of different races received a subprime loan varied depending on the level of racial segregation. It looked both at the role of racial segregation in metropolitan areas across the country and at the role that neighborhood demographics within communities in New York City played. The report found that, nationally, black borrowers living in the most racially segregated metropolitan areas were more likely to receive subprime loans than black borrowers living in the least racially segregated metropolitan areas. When looking just at New York City neighborhood demographics, the report found that living in a predominantly non-white neighborhood made it more likely that borrowers of all races would receive a subprime loan.

The Furman Center is a leading academic research center, and a joint initiative of NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the School of Law. The director is Vicki Been, the Boxer Family Professor of Law, and the co-director is Professor Ingrid Ellen of Wagner.


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