The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
In a Convocation speech to Wagner's Class of 2009, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said he attended the 1977 World Series game when sports commentator Howard Cosell, observing a column of rising smoke in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium, told a national television audience, "Ladies and gentleman, the Bronx is burning." The wave of arson, crime, and abandonment afflicting much of New York City less than two years after the city government had narrowly avoided municipal bankruptcy captured Donovan's attention even then, as an 11 year old baseball enthusiast. And it's probably no accident that as someone who came of age in the 1970s and '80s in New York, he went on to devote his education and distinguished public career to understanding and innovating policy steps that helped rescue and transform New York and many other American cities in the wake of that "urban catastrophe."
Donovan quoted former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton in addressing the proud and excited graduates and their families gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 15: "Public service is not just a way of life, it is a way to live life fully."
According to Donovan, the rise of New York and the restoration of its once-strained civic bonds show that public-sector work - his own path-has enormous potential value, even though the challenges were amply demonstrated by the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Citing President Obama's call to service, as well as his recently signed national service bill, Donovan said the mission of public employees and others embarked on public service work of all kinds is to give us "a reason to believe in public service again" in our neighborhoods and across the nation and world.
"Wagner Class of 2009," Donovan said, "we need you to make it possible to believe again!...Together, we can put our shoulder up against the wheel and change the course of history."
Dean Ellen Schall enumerated the impressive accomplishments of the graduating students and faculty members, including Professors of the Year Shanna Rose and Anthony Kovner. She contended that the work of public service requires more than technical and analytical capabilities, as critical as those are, but also "artistry," saying, "Public service is as much about art as about science." Artistry is what is required to find bold new answers to problems that resist technical solutions, whether those are ending poverty, overcoming racism, ensuring equal health outcomes for all, creating public school systems that work, or building cities that are sustainable.
The dean told the graduates that she wrote an essay for the Convocation as if she were applying for admission to the school. She based her thoughts on a photograph she selected from a catalogue of visual images, just as many Wagner applicants are asked to do. The image she selected was that of a person bringing a pot to life on a pottery wheel, as it reminded her of an introduction to pottery class she took last fall.
"I showed up every Monday night from 6-9, much the way you showed up for a class," she told the graduates. "And it was very hard. It was the worst in the class, a fact clear to me and to everyone else. Yet I stayed and kept on trying. I knew there was learning in the trying, in sticking with what didn't come easily. I never actually cracked the code or became a potter. Yet at the end, I have these small little pieces of ‘pottery' in my house and the odd thing is, I display them...and they make me smile when I walk in. They remind me to take myself seriously, but not too seriously, to stretch even in the face of initial resistance, mine or others, to find pleasure in small wins."
She referred to the image on a large screen on the BAM stage.
"This captures a simple visual image that I wish for each of you as you go forth. That you embrace the boldness of seeing yourself as artists, as creators and change makers, as people who bring passion and the fullness of yourselves to the critically important challenges of public service. And that you have the discipline and energy and commitment to keep on going, even if you don't get it right the first time around, that you learn from what works as well as what doesn't, and that you find joy in small things as well as big moves."
Michael C. Alfano, executive vice president of New York University, offered spirited welcoming remarks, while class speaker Tracey Gardner, who earned an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy, introduced Donovan, noting, "He's not beaten down, not jaded, and ever on the lookout for policy changes to improve how things are done and make our lives better."
Kate Otto, NYU Wagner student and Reynolds scholar, was the NYU Commencement Speaker at the newly opened Yankee Stadium on May 13. In past years, the University has selected two student commencement speakers, one to represent undergrads and the other for graduates. There was one student speaker this year, which made Otto the perfect choice: she's graduating from Wagner's dual degree BA/MPA program.
The spirited day under sunny skies was highlighted by a Commencement speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was introduced by Wagner Dean Ellen Schall, who described her as "the chief architect of American foreign policy...[and] a luminous star in the crucial constellation of human rights defenders."
Otto, who hails from Rhode Island, worked during high school at a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. She went on to attend NYU's College of Arts and Science and work on public health education programs in West Africa. She enrolled in Wagner classes during her senior year. This year, she completed the requirements for an MPA in Health Policy and Management from Wagner.
In addition, she has been working for Keep A Child Alive, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based organization where she began as an intern. The group supports the care and treatment of children worldwide afflicted with HIV/AIDS. There, Otto sparked the creation of a network that now includes 315 campus chapters. She is now looking to expand this network into middle and high schools, houses of worship, athletic teams, and more.
Otto has been awarded a Luce Scholarship, and will spend the next academic year in Indonesia working with an HIV/AIDS organization.
"Communities," she says, noting the global economic downturn, "are the most important thing we all can be building right now."
NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall served as moderator as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Chair of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker gathered at New York University on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 for a fascinating discussion with students and faculty on "A New Multilateralism in the 21st Century." The event included such pressing and complex issues as global economic structures and policies, the challenges of climate change, and the need for cooperative approaches to security.
A report released Feb. 17, 2009, by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg found that the city's average annual temperatures could increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees, yearly rainfall will increase by 5 to 10 inches, and seas could rise by up to 23 inches, or even 55 inches if the rate of ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica persists in speeding up.
NYU Wagner Professor Rae Zimmerman is a member of the expert panel convened by the city government and financed by a $350,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Professor Zimmerman is Director of the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), housed at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
The panel also predicted more frequent and intense "extreme events," like heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding.
The report is entitled "Climate Risk Information" and can be seen by clicking on the link below.
" 'Jonas & Kovner's Health Care Delivery in the United States' is one of the best-known and longest-standing (first edition, 1977) compendiums on the unique problems of US health care policy. And with good reason -- like other grand textbooks such as Harrison's for internal medicine, Guyton's for psychology, or Robbins' for pathology, this text authoritatively demonstrates the breadth and depth of current foundational knowledge of its field."
So begins a complimentary Journal of the American Medical Association online review of the now classic textbook (New York: Springer, 2008, 9th ed.) edited by NYU Wagner Professor Anthony Kovner and Wagner alumnus James R. Knickman. The book has sold has sold more than 300,000 copies since its publication in 1977.
"[D]espite the considerable expertise presented," according to the review written by S. Ryan Greysen, MD, Department of Health Policy, George Washington University, "the text remains approachable for professionals in health care delivery or policy, whether novices or masters in the field."
To read the review, click below.
In January, 2009, Bill Gates shared his first "Annual Letter" relating his expanded role at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and priorities for the Foundation during the year ahead. In the letter, Gates discusses: why he remains optimistic in the face of the current economic crisis, and the Foundation's work in their focus areas of global development, global health and U.S. programs. Gates specifically details the progress that has been made in the field of global health, and the importance of moving that work forward, with special focus on HIV/AIDS, polio, malaria, and childhood health; the critical need for agricultural improvements in Africa; the state of U.S. education, and the Foundation's new strategic approach; and the role of foundations, and the importance of partnerships between the sectors.
The Gates Foundation's focus on global development resonates strongly at NYU Wagner, where one-third of students are pursuing an International specialization with their MPA. Wagner is also home to the Financial Access Initiative (FAI), a research consortium launched with support from the Gates Foundation in 2006. FAI is a consortium of leading development economists focused on substantially expanding access to quality financial services for low-income individuals. FAI is led by Managing Director Jonathan Morduch (NYU Wagner), Director Dean Karlan (Yale), and Director Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard).
To receive Bill Gates' annual letter, please visit the "Annual Letter Sign Up" link below.