In a campus-wide email today, the NYU Board of Trustees formally announced that current University President John Sexton will retire from his post in 2016, something that most people following Sexton's career at NYU more or less expected. In formalizing the end of his time at the university, the Board makes it clear that the end of his tenure in the job is Sexton's decision, adding that the board is “extremely satisfied with the direction and leadership of the University.” But his plans to step out of the role are, for many, inseparable from the increasing scrutiny levied at the university under Sexton, even as he thoroughly fulfilled his promise to increase the university's profile internationally.
For instance, a New York Times story earlier this year outlined the university's loan program to star faculty (including Sexton), enabling them to finance summer homes — something that today, the Board recommended the university end. According to an emailed statement from Martin Lipton, chairman of the NYU Board of Trustees, those loans will now only be available for primary residences. While NYU has preivously argued that the perk, which is not unique to NYU, is necessary to attract top talent, many bristled at its juxtaposition with the university's soaring tuition cost — over $64,000 for tuition, room, and board for the upcoming year — and deep borrowing by its students to pay those costs. Excluding for-profit colleges, the university's 2010 class of students owes more than any other graduating class at any other university, $659 million. That juxtaposition, along with rising discontent from the faculty of the university itself, prompted a series of votes of no confidence against Sexton from the different NYU schools earlier this year (the results were mixed, school by school). Those voices are unlikely to be quieted by the details what's reportedly in Sexton's retirement package. Here's what he's been promised, according to a New York Times:
The rapid change has won Dr. Sexton many admirers, both at N.Y.U. and throughout higher education. The board of trustees has raised his salary to nearly $1.5 million, with a $2.5 million “length of service” bonus to come in 2015, and has guaranteed him retirement benefits of $800,000 a year. The university also provides him an apartment by Washington Square.
But NYU points to Sexton's accomplishments in response to criticism of his compensation as president. University spokesperson John Beckman, in an email to the Wire, said that "NYU raised more than $1 million/day during John’s presidency, more than doubled the endowment, been appointed to major leadership posts in higher education" and the university's rise in ranking and applicants. Possibly to address criticism of the university's administration, the board email also contained an indication that the university would seek increased faculty and student involvement in the selection process, which will get going within the next three years. In a statement, Lipton said that the board's recommendations include "proposals to establish a new committee to improve communications between faculty and board members and to formalize the role of faculty and students in NYU’s future presidential selection process."