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.
Differences such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability status, and many other aspects of personal identity shape the way each of us sees the world, the way resources are distributed, the way policies are made, the way boundaries are drawn, and the way institutions are managed. While many courses at Wagner and other schools of public service address systemic bias and disparate impact, the conversations are not always easy ones - in or outside of the classroom.
To address this issue, NYU Wagner and UCLA's School of Public Affairs joined in developing a day-long workshop designed bring together faculty, students, and administrators at both schools to increase our capacities to discuss complex issues of identity and to experiment with creating frames that will help us to navigate across boundaries of difference at the micro (individual) and macro (institutional, society) levels. Workshops were held on separate days at UCLA and NYU Wagner in March, 2009, with students, faculty and staff from both schools participating in lively, thought-provoking discussions at each event.
NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall and her counterpart at UCLA, Frank Gilliam, plan to present the model to members of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), the accrediting association for schools like Wagner, at its fall conference, with the hopes that the model will help the 263 NASPAA member schools introduce these conversations within their communities.
NYU Wagner is delighted to announce that five highly accomplished incoming students have been selected as the recipients of our named Fellowships for the fall of 2014. Chosen by screening judges, the students are poised to begin their graduate work at Wagner this September, each having demonstrated academic success, innovation, and leadership in public service.
The 2014 Fellows are:
Lusungu Kayani Stearns and Zara Nasir – recipients of the David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship. The Bohnett Fellowship is "...a great opportunity for students to directly engage in the challenges of governing our vibrant and diverse city," in the words of David Bohnett, Chairman and Founder of the David Bohnett Foundation.
For the past six years, Lusungu has worked in Nairobi for UN-Habitat, focusing on the impact of rapid urbanization on local, regional, and national governmental agencies in Africa. She holds an M.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.
Zara has worked with parents, students, and community members as a community organizer on education advocacy and immigration reform, training young organizers and leading outreach and canvassing efforts. She is interested in social activism and organizing in communities of color. In 2010, she received her B.A. in History from the University of Michigan.
Julliard Lin – recipient of the Henry Hart Rice Urban Studies Fellowship, awarded to outstanding students in the Master of Urban Planning program who demonstrate a commitment to bringing their scholarship and expertise to bear upon significant urban issues.
With an academic background in cognitive linguistics and experience in the nonprofit and public sectors, Julliard is currently working to strengthen a series of dynamic urban development projects in New York City. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Linguistics from Northwestern University.
Pessy Katz and Michael Weston-Murphy – recipients of the Lisa Goldberg Fellowship. The Goldberg Fellowship was established for rising leaders in public service who seek careers in philanthropy or Jewish leadership.
Pessy has interned in the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, taught Hebrew and poetry to grade-school children, developed advocacy projects for the Jewish Community Relations Council, and was a program coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Touro College.
For the past three years, Michael has been an employee of the Archdiocese of New York, managing the campaign to support the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. With a strong concurrent interest in global affairs, he has served as an issues intern for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. At Boston College, where he received his B.A. in International Studies & Islamic Civilization and Societies, he was co-founder of Al-Noor: The Boston College Undergraduate Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
Congratulations to all!
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."
More than 50 Wagner students, faculty, and administrators gathered at the Puck Building on Sunday, April 22, to work on deepening the community�s capacity to talk about and listen � across racial lines � to experiences of race.
�Public service work requires the ability to work across multiple boundaries, including those of race. Dean Ellen Schall is committed to creating a community where highly charged issues are discussable, and where people with varying experiences and perspectives can talk to and learn from each other. The �Race Dialogue� framework views the ability to engage in these types of conversations as a competency that people frequently have to work at in order to master. The recent session serves as a positive foundation from which to add and similar dialogues may be held in the coming months.
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.