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John Sexton Takes Reins as NYU President

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During a ceremony highlighted by a proclamation from the mayor of New York City, John Sexton, former dean of NYU School of Law, was installed as president of New York University on September 26, 2002. The notable crowd included hundreds of NYU students, staff, faculty, and alumni as well as university leaders from both the United States and abroad.

The installation ceremony began with an opening pronouncement by S. Andrew Schaffer, senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the University, after which Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered remarks and read a mayoral proclamation declaring September 26 to be “John Sexton Day” in New York City.

“I salute the leaders of New York University in selecting John Sexton as their new president,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “His intellect and vitality are essential to the vitality of the city.” The mayor added that while New York is known as the leading city for finance and culture, it is also the center of higher education.

The mayor read from his proclamation: “From the performing arts to international finance, from public school classrooms to biomedical labs, NYU is intricately linked to every aspect of what is important and exciting in the life of this city. The ideas and information, the creative and intellectual capital generated here at the Washington Square campus and at the NYU Medical Center make NYU one of the city’s greatest assets.”

NYU Board of Trustees Chair Martin Lipton (’54) officiated at the formal installation of Sexton as the University’s president. Paying tribute to Sexton’s three immediate predecessors, James Hester, John Brademas, and L. Jay Oliva, all in attendance, Lipton said, “In large measure their service is what has made this University great…We have no doubt that we will move NYU along its upward trajectory. We are blessed with the right man at the right time.”

In his own address, Sexton focused on the environment of change in higher education and the nature of a leadership university for the 21st century.

The ceremony was part of a week-long set of events marking the formal launch of a new NYU leadership team. Other events included receptions for students and administrators, a dinner for newly inducted trustees, a set of academic panels exploring subjects ranging from religion to neural science, and a daylong conference of some 20 university leaders from around the world whose institutions are members of the League of World Universities.

John Sexton, the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law, was named NYU’s president-designate in May 2001. He was dean of NYU School of Law for 14 years. Before coming to NYU, he served as law clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger, U.S. Supreme Court; Judge David Bazelon, U.S. Court of Appeals; and Judge Harold Leventhal, U.S. Court of Appeals. Sexton received a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Fordham University, and earned his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Reprinted with permission of NYU Today.