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Former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch, who died in the early-morning hours Feb. 1, led an informative, entertaining hour of discussion in the fall of 2010 at NYU Wagner about his eventful three terms at City Hall – years that sparked a remarkable turnaround in the condition and character of much of New York City, noticeable to this day.
Joining Koch was Jonathan Soffer, NYU Polytechnic associate professor of history and author of a critically acclaimed biography, Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia University Press, 2010), as well as Wagner's dean Ellen Schall, who introduced Koch as “my mayor," noting that she had worked extensively for city government, including as the commissioner of juvenile justice.
“City government, I say to all my students, is really the most amazing opportunity,” she commented. “It allows you to work on incredibly important issues, have much more authority as a young person that you have any reason to have, and make a huge amount of difference.”
Koch spoke passionately about the merits of embarking on a career in public service.
“There’s nothing comparable to public service,” he said. “More than saying ‘How am I doin’?’ … more than that I said 10,000 times that public service is the most noble profession if it’s done honestly and if it’s done well. And that’s why people serve. There’s nothing like it.”
In this videotape of the Oct. 14, 2010 conversation at Wagner, the former mayor begins speaking at marker 15:48.