Partnerships Make Universities Good Citizens
Earlier this year, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded a special classification to New York University as a research university with “an outstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with its host community.” The classification is reserved for universities that have reached a point of distinction for high quality teaching, learning, and research, and also giving back to their communities. Our host community is, of course, New York City.
As dean of the NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, I take enormous pride in this award and in Steinhardt’s contributions to community-based learning and research. The Carnegie Foundation’s award validates NYU founder Albert Gallatin’s belief in the power of a university that is deliberately built, in Gallatin’s words, to be “in and of the city.” This distinction also highlights NYU’s advantage in the twenty-first century: to be in and of a global city like New York is implicitly to be a global university. A global university is one prepared to meet the demands of the twenty-first century, to prepare students to be citizens of a global society and to bring added value to the global community, to be, “in and of the world.”
NYU Steinhardt’s reach within New York City belies the notion of the university as an “ivory tower.” The very nature of our School’s mission—to advance knowledge, creativity, and innovation at the crossroads of human learning, culture, development, and well-being—depends on strong relationships with myriad organizations, large and small, throughout the city, such as clinics and hospitals, performance venues, schools, and art, media, and cultural institutions.
Examples of Steinhardt faculty and students in the community include economists researching school funding policies; occupational therapists helping students with disabilities; educational theater professionals bringing Shakespeare to public schools; speech therapists treating adolescents with communication disorders; professional artists helping to develop the portfolios of talented high school students from low-income families; educators reducing the numbers of our youth who end up in prisons instead of college, and much more.
One example: recently, members of our department of nutrition, food studies, and public health collaborated with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to help group daycares improve the diets of preschool children and their families. Students in the department visited 30 centers in underserved communities in the South Bronx, East/Central Harlem, and Central Brooklyn. They studied the current diet in the schools and some of their recommendations—like making sure children had healthy foods (fresh fruit and vegetables) and beverages (low-fat milk and water)—influenced the city’s new nutritional policies that went into effect on January 1, 2007.
NYU Steinhardt’s engagement with the City is also reflected through the Partnership for Teacher Excellence, which brings together various schools within NYU, The City University of New York, and the NYC Department of Education. Funded by the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the partnership addresses New York City’s need for highly qualified, well-trained teachers by locating more of teacher training in the schools themselves and by offering incentives to college students to become teachers of mathematics, science, TESOL, and special education, all of which face critical shortages in New York City.
These are just a few examples of recent initiatives that have brought NYU Steinhardt students and faculty into New York City schools and other organizations. I look forward to expanding this reach in the coming years. Together, NYU Steinhardt and its partners are committed to educating New York City’s diverse students so that all might achieve at high levels. If you are interested in learning more about our most recent partnerships, please visit our website at www.steinhardt.nyu.edu/news/2007.#
Mary Brabeck is dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.