New York Times spotlights NYU Wagner's 'Visual Explorer' application tool

New York Times spotlights NYU Wagner's 'Visual Explorer' application tool

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.

View the interactive feature at the New York Times.

NYU Wagner and UCLA School of Public Affairs Develop Workshop on 'Navigating Across Boundaries of Difference'

NYU Wagner and UCLA School of Public Affairs Develop Workshop on 'Navigating Across Boundaries of Difference'

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 congratulates the Class of 2009, and celebrates Convocation at BAM

NYU Wagner congratulates the Class of 2009, and celebrates Convocation at BAM

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."


NYU Wagner Convenes Race Dialogue

NYU Wagner Convenes Race Dialogue

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 Interviews Gordon Brown

NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall Interviews Gordon Brown

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.

NYU Wagner Forum with Leading Public Officials Explores President Obama's First 100 Days

NYU Wagner Forum with Leading Public Officials Explores President Obama's First 100 Days

Ellen Schall, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert M. Shrum, and Rogan Kersh

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, and White House senior economic adviser Jason Furman were among leading public service officials, business leaders, journalists, and professors who took part in an original, lively, and thought-provoking NYU Wagner forum April 24 entitled "President Obama's First 100 Days: Implications for Urban America."

NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall welcomed 100 public service and business leaders and others to the Fifth Avenue Ballroom, where the daylong conference also featured the author/historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wagner Professor Paul C. Light, and Robert M. Shrum, the noted political strategist and a Wagner senior fellow.

Contributing to the event's four panel conversations were New York Times chief national political correspondent Adam Nagourney, NBC News Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris, and New York 1 political reporter Dominic Carter.

The conversations and audience questions focused on the President's unparalleled attempts -- except for, perhaps, the first 100 days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency in the grip of the Great Depression -- to stabilize a reeling national  economy, his evolving leadership, the enormous public support his actions have elicited, and the immediate and long-range challenges facing cash-pressed cities and states.

"The most important thing that he has done," said Governor Corzine, referring to President Obama, "is he has restored repect and confidence in the office of the presidency."

Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter, in response to a question from Mark Whitaker, gave the new commander-in-chief a "B-plus/A-minus" -- ticking off a list of the President's accomplishments and the many initiatives in healthcare and alternative-energy investment that may come -- and he added that the President and his administration have been strikingly accessible and sensitive to the concerns of big-city mayors such as himself.

 "They know where cities are," Nutter said.

NYU Wagner has Strong Presence in Mayor de Blasio's New Appointments

NYU Wagner has Strong Presence in Mayor de Blasio's New Appointments

NYU Wagner congratulates one of our faculty members, two alumni, and a current student for their newly announced appointments to leadership positions in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. Mayor de Blasio announced in a press conference on February 8 that Vicki Been, Shola Olatoye, Gary Rodney, and Mindy Tarlow will join his leadership team.

The Mayor announced the formation of a housing “dream team” focused on the preservation and development of affordable housing, and named Professor Vicki Been as the city’s Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development. Professor Been works at the cutting edge of legal scholarship in land use, urban policy, and housing, and is Director of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a joint initiative of NYU Wagner and the NYU School of Law. She is an Associated Professor of Public Policy and the Boxer Family Professor of Law, with her recent research examining the effects of widespread mortgage foreclosures on neighborhoods, families, and children, and the role of zoning and other regulations in shaping development patterns.

Mayor de Blasio also named Shola Olatoye (MPA, 2001) as Chair of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – the nation’s largest public housing authority, overseeing 180,263 units throughout the city. Shola previously served as Vice President of the New York Market Leader for Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit organization that builds and preserves affordable housing for low-income residents. She was Vice President and Senior Community Development Manager at HSBC Bank, and Director of Community Outreach at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.  

Gary Rodney (MPA, 1999) was appointed as Director of the Housing Development Corp (HDC). HDC finances the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Gary was the Executive Vice President for Development of Omni New York, which finances community-based affordable housing projects. He previously worked at the city’s Housing Development Corporation in the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations.

NYU Wagner student Mindy S. Tarlow was recently appointed as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, where she is responsible for ensuring that City Hall is efficient, as well as fiscally and social responsible. While currently on leave from her studies, she remains enrolled in Wagner’s Executive MPA program and is on track to graduate in 2016. This past fall, she was a guest speaker in a Wagner course on Strategic Leadership. She has taught strategic management and managing public services organizations as an adjunct professor in the program.

NYU Wagner proudly congratulates Vicki, Shola, Gary, and Mindy, and is proud to be affiliated with these accomplished New York City public service leaders.




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