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.
When NYU Wagner reviews applications for admission, we try to add up the many components that make up an applicant and ask ourselves: Who is this person? Two years ago, we added an optional Visual Explorer essay to our application. This essay section provides all applicants with an opportunity to offer information about themselves that is not always captured through the standard essay question on the application. They are asked to select a photograph from an archive of two dozen conceptual images and then write about it. The process draws out their creativity, while grounding them in a moment of reflection about their motivation to study and work in public service.
"Too often," notes Wagner's dean, Ellen Schall, "applying to graduate school is transactional. We added Visual Explorer because we wanted to signal that the Wagner experience is transformational. Visual Explorer calls for people to slow down enough to reflect on their own experiences, connect their passion for public service to their professional goals, and offer their own perspectives on how to change the world."
On Nov. 1, 2009, the Education Life supplement of The New York Times spotlighted Wagner's pattern-breaking application tool, the images for which are provided in collaboration with the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership, or CCL.
"Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch's appearance at an NYU forum yesterday was overbooked almost as soon as it was announced, and the audience wasn't disappointed as Gov. Paterson's No. 2 let loose on a variety of subjects." So began a Crain's Insider dispatch on Ravitch's bracing, widely reported discussion Oct. 28, 2009, at NYU Wagner on New York State's huge budget challenges and the implications for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which he formerly headed, the $2 transit fare, and the controversial idea of introducing East River bridge tolls.
Ravitch, a major figure in the development of fiscal practices in the city and state since 1970s, offered his assessments with Wagner's Professor Charles Brecher (moderator) as a guest of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, housed at the school, and the Center's director, Anthony Shorris, who previously headed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "The State of New York," Ravitch said, "has in the remainder of this fiscal year a deficit of $4 billion--$3 or $4; people argue about it," he said, speaking to students and transportation professionals at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy. "Next year it's between $7 and $8 [billion], assuming revenues level off. The year after that, when the stimulus bill no loner provides any one-shots for the State of New York, the deficit will be between $15 and $18 billion. These are numbers that are unprecedented."
In a public conversation at NYU Wagner before more than 125 students, Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker offered hard-won insight, progress reports and humor in describing how his administration's strategies to reduce recidivism are contributing to broad civic improvement.
Mayor Booker fielded questions October 8, 2009, about his pattern-breaking efforts from Ellen Schall, Dean of Wagner, and the audience on a day when, as it happened, he was attracting national attention for countering quips delivered by TV talk-show host Conan O'Brien at Newark's expense. The mayor told students that New Jersey's largest city is simply "not the butt of jokes," but conceded that matching O'Brien laugh-for-laugh is no easy challenge.
But Booker had the audience chuckling at several points, even as he described serious and substantial efforts since his election in July, 2006, to set a national standard for urban transformation. He noted he has created several public/private partnerships and brought together civic group to rehabilitate and green the city's parks and playgrounds, doubled affordable housing construction, and set up model programs to assist at-risk youth and empower ex-offenders to thrive in meeting their family obligations.
Booker said with evident pride that only 3 percent of the ex-offenders who participated in an innovative fraternity on fatherhood begun by the city two years ago have been re-arrested, showing that carefully tailored programs can end a publicly and personally tragic cycle of recidivism. He said he calls the fatherhood program DADS, or Delta Alpha Delta Sigma, he joked. He hopes that by working to bring proven business analytical measurements and operational management techniques to the city administration, such efforts will be scaled up and replicated elsewhere. "Most cities," he said, "don't have a mature prisoner-reentry system."
The 39-year-old Mayor Booker said he's working to turn the city's well-regarded charter schools -- currently overseen by Wagner alumnus De'Shawn Wright -- "from "islands of excellence to hemispheres of hope." With the help of philanthropic organizations and researchers, transferring the Newark charters' formula for high achievement to the rest of the 45,000-student school system is achievable, he said.
"Hopelessness is probably one of the worst toxins in any city, it's a cancer, and it really undermines what you're trying to do," said the mayor. But in referring to his deepening involvement in public service, he then added, "It hasn't been easy, but it's been so rewarding."
The evening event was sponsored by The NYU Wagner Students for Criminal Justice Reform and The Black Allied Law Students Association.
The critically praised new edition of the casebook Health Services Management: Cases, Readings, and Commentary (9th ed., Health Administration Press: 2009), includes essays by six graduates of NYU Wagner and Anthony R. Kovner, professor of public health and management at Wagner and co-editor of the volume. The revised volume provides a distinctive overview of management and organizational behavior theory. The book's essays are organized into six parts: The Role of the Manager; Control; Organizational Design; and Professional Integration; Adaptation; and Accountability. The Wagner contributors are former students of public administration and health management who have gone on to work as leaders in the healthcare field. For example, Claudia Caine (MPA '84), in an essay co-written with Professor Kovner, drew on her experiences as Chief Operating Officer at Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn, N.Y. Their case study reveals how quality control moves significantly reduced patients' average wait time at an inner-city hospital's emergency room, from 90 minutes to between 30 and 35 minutes, door to doctor. And Jacob Victory (MPA '98), director of operational performance management for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, wrote two essays, entitled "Mid-Career Change" and "Integrating Rehabilitation Services into the Visiting Nurse Service of America." Overall, the book's cases take place in a variety of organizations, such as a faculty practice, a neighborhood health center, a small rural hospital, and an HMO. Kovner's co-editors include Duncan Neuhauser, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University, and Ann Scheck McAlearney, associate professor of health services management and policy at The Ohio State University's College of Public Health. Professor Kovner is also co-author of a newly published textbook, Evidence-Based Management in Health Care, the result of work by he and other distinguished management experts to foster more reliable, evidence-based decision making education and practice widely in the healthcare industry.