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Some Professors Plan On Supporting Sexton, Will Not Vote Against Him
/ March 14, 2013

We’ve covered many different aspects of this week’s No Confidence Vote. We’ve considered some possible retirement plans for John Sexton, and even related the debacle to our favorite childhood blockbuster flop. But there’s been little discussion so far about one particular group of people: those in favor of our friendly neighborhood President and his plans to further globalize this institution.

A solid number of faculty and administrators at NYU have spoken out in favor of NYU 2031. Gabrielle Starr, acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for example, explained that “If we are to keep up with the needs of our students and with the needs for a workforce educated in science and technology, we have to have the space to educate them.” Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, said, “The promise of the superblocks is the most appropriate space for a new performing arts center.  Without facilities like these, we cease being competitive with other theater and performing arts training centers around the country.”

Perhaps most outspoken, however, is Professor Bryan Waterman, who currently teaches literature in Abu Dhabi. He’s tweeted his position in the past and offered to elaborate for us here at NYU Local. “I voted against the VNC measure for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that its proponents have built so much of their platform on gross misperceptions of the global network university. Most of the loudest critics have no idea what they’re talking about — nothing they say, especially about NYUAD, resembles the actual situation here. What they describe bears no resemblance to my daily life at NYUAD or in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Professor Waterman values his time at Abu Dhabi greatly, explaining, “It’s not perfect, obviously, but it’s still very young. What’s happening here is transformative for everyone involved, including the city of Abu Dhabi.”

He may not agree with everything Sexton has done, specifically the graduate student union in 2005 and the way in which NYU 2031 has been revealed to the public, but he believes we, as an academic community, owe Sexton a great deal of gratitude for maintaining NYU as a forerunner of global higher education.

“Are we a better school than we were when I arrived in 2001? I think we are,” he said. “Unlike Sexton’s opponents, I think we’ve undertaken something, with the GNU, of real substance and long-term social significance.”

While it’s clear that some at the university are unhappy with how Sexton does things, it’s also apparent that there are those who feel differently. And with the vote set to conclude tomorrow, we may finally get a good idea of just how many stand on each side.

Follow all of NYU Local’s No Confidence Vote coverage here.

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