Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, declared his intention to establish "in this immense and fast-growing city ... a system of rational and practical education fitting and graciously opened to all". A three-day-long "literary and scientific convention" held in City Hall in 1830 and attended by over 100 delegates debated the terms of a plan for a new university. These New Yorkers believed the city needed a university designed for young men who would be admitted based upon merit rather than birthright or social class. On April 18, 1831, an institution was established, with the support of a group of prominent New York City residents from the city's merchants, bankers, and traders. Albert Gallatin was elected as the institution's first president. On April 21, 1831, the new institution received its charter and was incorporated as the University of the City of New York by the New York State Legislature; older documents often refer to it by that name. The university has been popularly known as New York University since its inception and was officially renamed New York University in 1896. In 1832, NYU held its first classes in rented rooms of four-story Clinton Hall, situated near City Hall. In 1835, the School of Law, NYU's first professional school, was established. Although the impetus to found a new school was partly a reaction by evangelical Presbyterians to what they perceived as the Episcopalianism of Columbia College, NYU was created non-denominational, unlike many American colleges at the time. American Chemical Society was founded in 1876 at NYU.
It became one of the nation's largest universities, with an enrollment of 9,300 in 1917. NYU had its Washington Square campus since its founding. The university purchased a campus at University Heights in the Bronx because of overcrowding on the old campus. NYU also had a desire to follow New York City's development further uptown. NYU's move to the Bronx occurred in 1894, spearheaded by the efforts of Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken. The University Heights campus was far more spacious than its predecessor was. As a result, most of the university's operations along with the undergraduate College of Arts and Science and School of Engineering were housed there. NYU's administrative operations were moved to the new campus, but the graduate schools of the university remained at Washington Square. In 1914, Washington Square College was founded as the downtown undergraduate college of NYU. In 1935, NYU opened the "Nassau College-Hofstra Memorial of New York University at Hempstead, Long Island". This extension would later become a fully independent Hofstra University.
In 1950, NYU was elected to the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit organization of leading public and private research universities.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, financial crisis gripped the New York City government and the troubles spread to the city's institutions, including NYU. Feeling the pressures of imminent bankruptcy, NYU President James McNaughton Hester negotiated the sale of the University Heights campus to the City University of New York, which occurred in 1973. In 1973, the New York University School of Engineering and Science merged into Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, which eventually merged into NYU in 2014 forming the present Tandon School of Engineering. After the sale of the Bronx campus, University College merged with Washington Square College. In the 1980s, under the leadership of President John Brademas, NYU launched a billion-dollar campaign that was spent almost entirely on updating facilities. The campaign was set to complete in 15 years, but ended up being completed in 10. In 2003 President John Sexton launched a $2.5 billion campaign for funds to be spent especially on faculty and financial aid resources.
In 2009, the university responded to a series of New York Times interviews that showed a pattern of labor abuses in its fledgling Abu Dhabi location, creating a statement of labor values for Abu Dhabi campus workers. A 2014 follow-up article found that while some conditions had improved, contractors for the multibillion-endowment university were still frequently subjecting their workers to third-world labor conditions. The article documented that these conditions included confiscation of worker passports, forced overtime, recruitment fees and cockroach-filled dorms where workers had to sleep under beds. According to the article, workers who attempted to protest the NYU contractors' conditions were promptly arrested. The university responded the day of the article with an apology to the workers. Another report was published and it maintains that those who were on strike were arrested by police who then promptly abused them in a police station. Many of those who were not local were then deported to their country. In 2015, NYU compensated thousands of migrant workers on its Abu Dhabi complex.
NYU was the founding member of the League of World Universities, an international organization consisting of rectors and presidents from urban universities across six continents. The league and its 47 representatives gather every two years to discuss global issues in education. L. Jay Oliva formed the organization in 1991 just after he was inaugurated president of New York University.
NYU's board of trustees is currently one of the largest and most powerful in American academia.
The university logo, the upheld torch, is derived from the Statue of Liberty, signifying NYU's service to New York City. The torch is depicted on both the NYU seal and the more abstract NYU logo, designed in 1965 by renowned graphic designer Tom Geismar of the branding and design firm Chermayeff & Geismar. There are at least two versions of the possible origin of the university color, violet. Some believe that it may have been chosen because violets are said to have grown abundantly in Washington Square and around the buttresses of the Old University Building. Others argue that the color may have been adopted because the violet was the flower associated with Athens, the center of learning in ancient Greece.
Washington Square and Greenwich Village have been hubs of cultural life in New York City since the early 19th century. Much of this culture has intersected with NYU at various points in its history. Artists of the Hudson River School, the United States' first prominent school of painters, settled around Washington Square. Samuel F.B. Morse, a noted artist who also pioneered the telegraph and created the Morse Code, served as the first chair of Painting and Sculpture. He and Daniel Huntington were early tenants of the Old University Building in the mid-19th century. (The University rented out studio space and residential apartments within the "academic" building.) As a result, they had notable interaction with the cultural and academic life of the university.
In the 1870s, sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French lived and worked near the Square. By the 1920s, Washington Square Park was nationally recognized as a focal point for artistic and moral rebellion. As such, the Washington Square campus became more diverse and bustled with urban energy, contributing to academic change at NYU. Famed residents of this time include Eugene O'Neill, John Sloan, and Maurice Prendergast. In the 1930s, the abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and the realists Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton had studios around Washington Square. In the 1960s the area became one of the centers of the beat and folk generation, when Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan settled there. This led to tension with the university, which at the time was in the midst of an aggressive facilities expansion phase. In 1975, the university opened The Grey Art Gallery at 100 Washington Square East, housing the NYU art collection and featuring museum quality exhibitions.
NYU has successfully completed a seven-year, $2.5 billion campaign, surpassing expectations by raising more than $3 billion over the seven-year period. Started in 2001, this campaign was the university's largest in its history, in which they planned to "raise $1 million per day for scholarships and financial aid, faculty building, new academic initiatives, and enhancing NYU's physical facilities". The campaign included a $50 million gift from the Tisch family (after which one building and the art school are named) and a $60 million gift from six trustees called "The Partners Fund", aimed at hiring new faculty. On October 15, 2007 the university announced that the Silver family donated $50 million to the School of Social Work, which will be renamed as a result. This is the largest donation ever to a school of social work in the United States.
The 2007–2008 academic year was the most successful fundraising year to date for NYU, with the school raising $698 million in only the first 11 months of the year, representing a 70% increase in donations from the prior year. The University also recently announced plans for NYU's Call to Action, a new initiative to ask alumni and donors to support financial aid for students at NYU.
The university has announced a 25-year strategic development plan, scheduled to coincide with its bicentennial in 2031. Included in the "NYU 200" plans are increasing resident and academic space, hiring additional exemplary faculty, and involving the New York City community in a transparent planning process. Additionally, NYU hopes to make their buildings more environmentally friendly, which will be facilitated by an evaluation of all campus spaces. As a part of this plan, NYU purchased 118 million kilowatt-hours of wind power during the 2006–2007 academic year – the largest purchase of wind power by any university in the country and any institution in New York City. For 2007, the university expanded its purchase of wind power to 132 million kilowatt-hours. As a result, the EPA ranked NYU as one of the greenest colleges in the country in its annual College & University Green Power Challenge.
NYU consistently ranks as one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, raising $449.34 million in 2013 and $455.72 million in 2014. NYU is also the 19th wealthiest university in America with $5.3 billion in cash and investments in fiscal year 2014.
NYU's campus in New York City includes more than 100 buildings in Manhattan, as well as several buildings in Brooklyn. Most of NYU's buildings in Manhattan are located across a roughly 230-acre (930,000 m2) area bounded by Houston Street to the south, Broadway to the east, 14th Street to the north, and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to the west. The core of NYU consists of buildings that surround Washington Square Park.
With approximately 11,000 undergraduate and graduate residents, NYU had the seventh-largest university housing system in the U.S. as of 2007, and one of the largest among private schools.
Since the late 1970s, the central part of NYU has been its Washington Square campus in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Washington Square Arch is an unofficial symbol of NYU. Until 2007, NYU had held its commencement ceremonies in Washington Square Park, but moved the ceremonies to Yankee Stadium in 2008 because of renovations to Washington Square.
In the 1990s, NYU became a "two square" university by building a second community around Union Square, in close proximity to Washington Square. NYU's Union Square community primarily consists of the priority residence halls of Carlyle Court, Palladium Residence Hall, Alumni Hall, Coral Tower, Thirteenth Street Hall, University Hall, Third North Residence Hall, and Founders Hall.
NYU operates theaters and performance facilities that are often used by the university's music conservatory and Tisch School of the Arts. External productions are also occasionally held in NYU's facilities. The largest performance accommodations at NYU are the Skirball Center for Performing Arts (850 seats) at 566 LaGuardia Place, just south of Washington Square South, and the Eisner-Lubin Auditorium (560 seats) in the Kimmel Center. Recently, the Skirball Center hosted important speeches on foreign policy by John Kerry and Al Gore. The Skirball Center is the largest performing arts facility south of 42nd Street.
The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, built between 1967 and 1972, is the largest library at NYU and one of the largest academic libraries in the United States. Designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, the 12-story, 425,000-square-foot (39,500 m2) structure sits on the southern edge of Washington Square Park (at 70 Washington Square South) and is the flagship of an eight-library, 4.5 million-volume system. Bobst Library offers one Multidisciplinary Reference Center, a Research Commons, 28 miles (45 km) of open-stacks shelving, and approximately 2,000 seats for student study. The library is visited by more than 6,800 users each day, and circulates more than one million books annually.
Bobst's Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media is one of the world's largest academic media centers, where students and researchers use more than 95,000 audio and video recordings per year. The Digital Studio offers a constantly evolving, leading-edge resource for faculty and student projects and promotes and supports access to digital resources for teaching, learning, research and arts events.
Bobst Library is also home to significant special collections. The Fales Collection houses one of the finest collections of English and American fiction in the United States, the unique Downtown Collection, documenting the New York literary avante-garde arts scene from the 1970s to the present, and the Food and Cookery Collection, which documents American food history with a focus on New York City. Bobst Library also houses the Tamiment Library, one of the finest collections in the world for scholarly research in labor history, socialism, anarchism, communism, and American radicalism. Tamiment includes the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, the Archives of Irish America, the Center for the Cold War and the U.S., and the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center.
Since the early 2000s, NYU has developed new facilities on and around its Washington Square Campus. The Kimmel Center for University Life was built in 2003 as the primary location for the university's student services offices. It also houses the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the Rosenthal Pavilion, the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, and the Loeb Student Center. The School of Law built Furman Hall in 2004, incorporating elements of two historic buildings into the new facade, one of which had been occupied by poet Edgar Allan Poe.
In 2005, NYU announced the development of a new life science facility on Waverly Place, the first new NYU science building since the opening of Meyer Hall in 1971. In November 2005, NYU announced plans to build a 26-floor, 190,000-square-foot (18,000 m2) residence hall on 12th Street. The residence hall, named "Founders Hall", accommodates approximately 700 undergraduates and contains a host of other student facilities. It is currently the tallest building in the East Village.
NYU's Brooklyn campus is located at MetroTech Center, an urban academic-industrial research park, and is only a few subway stops from the Washington Square campus. It houses the School of Engineering, the Center for Urban Science and Progress and also several of Tisch School of the Arts and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development's degree programs. The Brooklyn campus also houses NYU's Game Center Open Library, which is the largest collection of games held by any university in the world. In 2014, NYU Langone Medical Center acquired a 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) healthcare facility in Brooklyn. The NYU shuttle bus system connects the Brooklyn campus with the Washington Square campus.
The New York University School of Medicine is situated near the East River waterfront at 550 First Avenue between East 30th and 34th Streets. The campus hosts the medical school, Tisch Hospital, and the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. Other NYU Centers across the city include NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Bellevue Hospital Center. NYU's Silver School of Social Work (formerly Ehrenkranz School of Social Work) manages branch campus programs in Westchester County at Manhattanville College, in Rockland County at St. Thomas Aquinas College, and on Staten Island at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island.
In Sterling Forest, near Tuxedo, NYU has a research facility that contains institutes, in particular the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine. The Midtown Center at 11 West 42nd Street is home to the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. The Woolworth Building in the financial district is home to NYU's professional studies and education programs.
NYU has two units located on the Upper East Side. The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, a discrete entity within NYU, independent of any other school or department of the university, is located on East 84th Street, while the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, a graduate school of art history and fine arts, is located at the James B. Duke Building at 1 East 78th Street.
The Tandon School of Engineering has locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It is one of the oldest private engineering schools in the United States.
NYU has international houses on its Manhattan campus, including the Deutsches Haus, La Maison Française, Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, the Glucksman Ireland House, the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, the Hagop Kevorkian Center, an Africa House and a China House.
Tisch School of the Arts, Asia was NYU's first branch campus abroad. The result of a partnership between Tisch School of the Arts and the Singapore Government, it offered Master of Fine Arts degrees in animation and digital arts, dramatic writing, film and international media producing. The campus opened in fall 2007 with the intention to enroll approximately 250 students. Anticipated enrolment figures were not achieved, financial irregularities were alleged and President Pari Sara Shirazi was dismissed from her post by NYU in November 2011. She subsequently announced her intention to commence legal proceedings against NYU alleging wrongful termination and defamation. In a letter to the Tisch Asia community dated November 8, 2012, Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell announced that the campus would close after 2014 with recruitment and admission of new students suspended with immediate effect. In 2016, three former students of the now defunct Tisch Asia sued NYU.
NYU has a host of foreign facilities used for study abroad programs, referred to as Global Academic Centers. As of 2012, NYU operates 14 academic sites – both degree-granting research university campuses and study abroad sites – in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America, including undergraduate academic-year and summer study abroad programs in New York City, Florence, London, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Accra, Madrid, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, and Washington, D.C. One of the most noteworthy is the 57-acre (230,000 m2) campus of NYU Florence Villa LaPietra in Italy, bequeathed by the late Sir Harold Acton to NYU in 1994.
In fall 2010, NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) opened as the university's first overseas "Portal Campus" with an inaugural class of 150 students. Unlike NYU's other study abroad centers, NYUAD functions as a separate liberal arts college within a university, offering complete degree programs to students admitted directly to NYUAD. NYUAD recruits students from all over the world and describes itself as the "World's Honor College". The main campus for NYUAD is under construction on Saadiyat Island and is scheduled to open in 2014. Until then the school operates from a campus located in downtown Abu Dhabi. The campus construction and operational costs are entirely funded by the Abu Dhabi government.
In 2011, NYU announced plans to open another portal campus, New York University Shanghai, for the fall semester of 2013. It was set to have about 3,000 undergraduate students, the majority of whom would be Chinese. It was approved by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China in January 2011. NYU's local partner will be East China Normal University (ECNU). ECNU's president Yu Lizhong will be the chancellor and play a major role in government relations while Jeffrey S. Lehman, former president of Cornell amongst other positions, will serve as vice chancellor and have "free rein in academic affairs".
In spring 2014, NYU opened a new campus in Paris, in the student area of the Quartier Latin, where NYU Law set up an EU Regulatory Policy Clinic taught by Alberto Alemanno and Vincent Chauvet.
NYU houses approximately 11,000 undergraduate and graduate residents, and had the seventh-largest university housing system in the U.S. as of 2007, and one of the largest among private schools. NYU's undergraduate housing system consists of more than 20 residence halls. Uniquely, many of NYU's residence halls are converted apartment complexes or old hotels. In general, NYU residence halls receive favorable ratings, and some are opulent. Many rooms are spacious and contain amenities considered rare for individual college residence hall rooms, such as kitchens, lavatories, living rooms and common areas. The university operates its own transit system to transport its students by bus to its campus.
Undergraduate students are guaranteed housing during their enrollment at NYU. Most freshman residence halls are located near the Washington Square area. While nearly all of the residence halls that primarily house sophomores are located near the Union Square area, two former residence halls were located in the Financial District and one is still in use in Chinatown. All of NYU's residence halls are governed by the Inter-Residence Hall Council (IRHC), an umbrella student council organization.
In 2007, the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) named NYU the National School of the Year for IRHC and NRHH's strong efforts over the past year. In addition, NYU was named the National Program of the Year for UltraViolet Live, the annual inter-hall competition that raises funds for Relay For Life.
NYU has made the greening of its campus a large priority. For example, NYU has been the largest university purchaser of wind energy in the U.S. since 2009. With this switch to renewable power, NYU is achieving benefits equivalent to removing 12,000 cars from the road or planting 72,000 trees. In May 2008, the NYU Sustainability Task Force awarded $150,000 in grants to 23 projects that would focus research and efforts toward energy, food, landscape, outreach, procurement, transportation and waste. These projects include a student-led bike-sharing program modeled after Paris' Velib program with 30 bikes free to students, staff, and faculty. NYU received a grade of "B" on the College Sustainability Report Card 2010 from the Sustainable Endowments Institute.
NYU purchased 118 million kilowatt-hours of wind power during the 2006–2007 academic year – the largest purchase of wind power by any university in the country and any institution in New York City. For 2007, the university expanded its purchase of wind power to 132 million kilowatt-hours.
The EPA ranked NYU as one of the greenest colleges in the country in its annual College & University Green Power Challenge.
New York University comprises the following schools and colleges:Arts & ScienceCollege of Arts and ScienceGraduate School of Arts and ScienceLiberal StudiesCenter for Urban Science and ProgressCollege of DentistryCollege of Global Public HealthRory Meyers College of NursingCourant Institute of Mathematical SciencesGallatin School of Individualized StudyInstitute of Fine ArtsInstitute for the Study of the Ancient WorldLeonard N. Stern School of BusinessNYU Abu DhabiNYU ShanghaiRobert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public ServiceSilver School of Social WorkSchool of LawSchool of MedicineSchool of Professional StudiesSteinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentTandon School of EngineeringTisch School of the Arts
Arts and Science is currently NYU's largest academic division. It has three subdivisions: the College of Arts and Science, the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and the Liberal Studies program. The College of Arts and Science and Liberal Studies program are undergraduate divisions, and the former has existed since the founding of NYU.
Undergraduate divisions are also found in the College of Dentistry, College of Nursing, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Shanghai, Tandon School of Engineering, Silver School of Social Work, School of Professional Studies, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Tisch School of the Arts. Postgraduate divisions are found in all of NYU's schools and colleges.
NYU manages one of the largest annual collegiate research budgets of any university in the United States. In 2014, NYU received $524 million in research grants from the National Science Foundation alone. NYU School of Medicine received $305 million in external research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2014. NYU was granted 90 patents in 2014, the 19th most of any institution in the world. NYU owns the fastest supercomputer in New York City. As of 2016, NYU hardware researchers and their collaborators enjoy the largest outside funding level for hardware security of any institution in the United States, including grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the United States Army Research Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, and companies including Boeing, Microsoft, and Google.
Admission to NYU is highly selective. For the undergraduate class of 2019, 18,500 were admitted from an applicant pool of 60,322 (31%). As of 2016, NYU's graduate schools have acceptance rates of 1.8% to the School of Medicine, 23% to the School of Business, 28% to the School of Engineering, 29% to the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and 34% to the School of Law.
Total undergraduate freshman enrollment is 5,917 for the 2015–2016 academic year, representing 49 states and 91 countries, with 19% as non-US citizens. Most freshmen have a typical unweighted GPA of 3.5/A (90–95%) and are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. The middle 50% of freshmen score between 1900 and 2150 on the SAT and between 29 and 32 on the ACT. The student-to-faculty ratio at the New York campus is 10:1, and less than that at the Abu Dhabi and Shanghai campuses. The average scholarship amount awarded to freshmen is $29,528, and 21% of freshmen received Pell Grants.
As of 2016, average MCAT score of students at the School of Medicine is 36/45, average GMAT score of graduate students at the School of Business is 710/800, average GRE quant score of graduate students at the School of Engineering is 169.3/170, and average LSAT score of students at the School of Law is 171/180.
Nationally, NYU is ranked 14th in the Center For World University Rankings, 15th by Global Language Monitor, 19th by QS World University Rankings, 22nd in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 24th by Business Insider, and 36th by U.S. News & World Report.
Globally, NYU is ranked 18th in the Center for World University Rankings, 17th in International Colleges and Universities, 29th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 32nd in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 46th in the QS World University Rankings. Additionally, NYU is ranked 20th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings Reputation Rankings.
U.S. News & World Report ranks NYU's graduate schools 6th for law, 6th for public policy, 9th for math (1st for applied math), 10th for Occupational therapy under Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, 10th for business, 11th for economics, 15th for political science, 19th for medical school research, 20th for education, 21st for nursing, 27th for physical therapy, 29th for computer science, 30th for psychology, and 46th for engineering.
Globally, NYU's social sciences are ranked 8th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 15th by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 16th by the QS World University Rankings. NYU is globally ranked 11th for psychology by the QS World University Ranking. The Social Psychology Network ranks NYU 5th for industrial/organizational psychology, 14th for clinical psychology, and U.S. News & World Report ranks NYU 9th for social psychology and 9th for behavioral neuroscience.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the New York University School of Law 1st for tax law and 1st for international law. The publication also ranks The Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service 6th in public policy. The NYU Department of Philosophy is globally ranked 1st by the The Philosophical Gourmet Report and the QS World University Rankings. In The Los Angeles Times, NYU Tisch School of Arts is ranked 1st for film by Ranker. NYU is ranked 1st for New Ivies by college resource guide Unigo. In 2006, NYU was named by Kaplan as one of the "New Ivies". The annual Global Employability Survey in The New York Times ranks NYU 11th nationally and 29th globally for employability. For four consecutive years NYU has been ranked as America's "#1 dream school" by the Princeton Review. NYU is consistently ranked as a "Top 10 Dream College" for both parents and students according to The Princeton Review. Alongside Stanford University, Harvard College, Princeton University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NYU is one of few universities to regularly appear in the top 10 list for both parents and students. NYU ranks 19th in the world based on the number of patents generated.
NYU ranked 7th among the World's top 100 universities for producing millionaires, as compiled by Times Higher Education World University Rankings. NYU ranked 5th globally among universities with the highest number of alumni worth $30 million or more, as compiled by ABC News. CNBC ranked NYU 4th globally among universities with the most billionaire graduates.
The Student Senators Council is the governing student body at NYU. The SSC has been involved in controversial debates on campus, including a campuswide ban on the sale of Coca-Cola products in 2005, and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee unionization in 2001 and subsequent strike in 2005. This ban was lifted by the University Senate on February 5, 2009.
NYU has over 450 student clubs and organizations on campus. In addition to the sports teams, fraternities, sororities, and study clubs, there are many organizations on campus that focus on entertainment, arts, and culture. These organizations include various student media clubs: for instance, the daily student newspaper the Washington Square News, the NYU Local daily blog, The Plague comedy magazine, "Washington Square Local web-based satire news source, and the literary journals Washington Square Review and The Minetta Review, as well as student-run event producers such as the NYU Program Board and the Inter-Residence Hall Council. It also operates radio station WNYU-FM 89.1 with a diverse college radio format, transmitting to the entire New York metropolitan area from the original campus, and via booster station WNYU-FM1 which fills in the signal in lower Manhattan from atop one of the Silver Towers, next to the football field at the Washington Square campus.
The New York University Mock Trial team is consistently ranked as one of the best collegiate mock trial teams in the country. NYU has qualified for the National Championship Tournament for 10 consecutive seasons and placed in the top 10 during each of those years. In the 2009–2010 season, NYU won the 26th National Championship Tournament in Memphis over rival Harvard. The following season, they qualified for the final round once more only to be the runners-up to UCLA. In the American Mock Trial Association's 2015–2016 power rankings, NYU ranks third, behind Harvard and Yale.
During the University Heights era, an apparent rift evolved with some organizations distancing themselves from students from the downtown schools. The exclusive Philomathean Society operated from 1832 to 1888 (formally giving way in 1907 and reconstituted into the Andiron Club). Included among the Andiron's regulations was "Rule No.11: Have no relations save the most casual and informal kind with the downtown schools". The Eucleian Society, rival to the Philomathean Society, was founded in 1832. The Knights of the Lamp was a social organization founded in 1914 at the School of Commerce. This organization met every full moon and had a glowworm as its mascot. The Red Dragon Society, founded in 1898, is thought to be the most selective society at NYU. In addition, NYU's first yearbook was formed by fraternities and "secret societies" at the university.
NYU has traditions which have persisted across campuses. Since the beginning of the 20th century initiation ceremonies have welcomed incoming NYU freshmen. At the Bronx University Heights Campus, seniors used to grab unsuspecting freshmen, take them to a horse-watering trough, and then dunk them head-first into what was known colloquially as "the Fountain of Knowledge". This underground initiation took place until the 1970s. Today freshmen take part in university-sponsored activities during what is called "Welcome Week". In addition, throughout the year the university traditionally holds Apple Fest (an apple-themed country fest that began at the University Heights campus), the Violet Ball (a dance in the atrium of Bobst Library), Strawberry Fest (featuring New York City's longest Strawberry Shortcake), and the semi-annual midnight breakfast where Student Affairs administrators serve free breakfast to students before finals.
Students publish a campus comedy magazine, The Plague. Like many college humor magazines, this often pokes fun at popular culture as well as campus life and the idiosyncrasies of New York University. The Plague was founded in 1978 by Howard Ostrowsky along with Amy Burns, John Rawlins, Joe Pinto and Dan Fiorella, and is currently published once per semester. It is not NYU's first humor magazine, as The Medley was a humor magazine published by the Eucleian Society from 1913 to 1950.
Some of the first fraternities in the country were formed at NYU. Greek life first formed on the NYU campus in 1837 when Psi Upsilon chartered its Delta Chapter. The first fraternities at NYU were social ones. With their athletic, professional, intellectual, and service activities, later groups sought to attract students who also formed other groups. Since then, Greek letter organizations have proliferated to include 25 social fraternities and sororities. As of 2014, approximately 13% of NYU students are members of fraternities or sororities.
Four governing boards oversee Greek life at the university. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) has jurisdiction over all twelve recognized fraternities on campus. Eight sororities are under the jurisdiction of the Panhellenic Council (PhC), which features seven national sororities (ΔΦΕ, ΑΕΦ, ΑΣΤ, ΠΒΦ, KKΓ, ZTΑ, ΔΓ) and two local sororities (AΦΖ and ΘΦΒ). Five multicultural organizations maintain membership in the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), including two fraternities and three sororities. All three of the aforementioned boards are managed under the auspices of the Inter-Greek Council.
Greek organizations have historical significance at NYU. Delta Phi Epsilon, Zeta Psi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Tau Delta Phi, Alpha Kappa Psi and Delta Sigma Pi were founded at NYU. Zeta Psi Fraternity of North America was chartered in 1847, Delta Sigma Pi in 1907, and Alpha Epsilon Pi in 1913. Delta Phi Epsilon was founded in 1917. The NYU Gamma chapter of Delta Phi, founded in 1841, is the longest continuously active fraternity chapter in the world, having never gone inactive since its establishment. Delta Phi is also the oldest continuously active fraternity in the United States, being the only organization in the original Union Triad to remain active since its institute. The NYU Gamma chapter of Zeta Beta Tau is the oldest active ZBT chapter in the country.
NYU does not have an ROTC program on campus. However, NYU students may participate in the U.S. Army ROTC program through NYC Army ROTC, headquartered at Fordham University.
NYU's sports teams are referred to as the NYU Violets, the colors being the trademarked hue "NYU Violet" and white. Since 1981, the school mascot has been a bobcat, whose origin can be traced back to the abbreviation then being used by the Bobst Library computerized catalog—short: Bobcat. NYU's sports teams include baseball, men's and women's varsity basketball, cross country, fencing, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. All of NYU's sports teams participate in the NCAA's Division III and the University Athletic Association, with the exception of fencing, which participates in Division I. While NYU has had All-American football players, the school has not had a varsity football team since 1952.
NYU students also compete in club and intramural sports, including badminton, baseball, basketball, crew, cycling, equestrianism, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, softball, squash, tennis, triathlon, and ultimate. The Coles Sports and Recreation Center serves as the home base of several of NYU's intercollegiate athletic teams. Many of NYU's varsity teams play their games at various facilities and fields throughout Manhattan because of the scarcity of space for playing fields near campus. In 2002, NYU opened the Palladium Athletic Facility as the second on-campus recreational facility.
NYU has 470,000 living alumni as of 2015. At least 37 Nobel Prize winners are affiliated with NYU. NYU is associated with a great number of important inventions and discoveries. For example, cardiac defibrillator and artificial cardiac pacemaker (Barouh Berkovits), closed-chest cardiac defibrillator (William B. Kouwenhoven), laser (Gordon Gould), atom bomb (Frederick Reines), polio vaccine (Albert Sabin), RFID (Mario Cardullo), telephone handset (Robert G. Brown), wireless microphone (Hung-Chang Lin), first digital image scanner (Russell A. Kirsch), television (Benjamin Adler), light beer (Joseph Owades), non-stick cookware (John Gilbert), black hole thermodynamics (Jacob Bekenstein), polymer science (Herman Francis Mark), microwave (Ernst Weber), X-ray crystallography (Paul Peter Ewald), barcode (Jerome Swartz), structure of the DNA (Francis Crick), tau lepton (Martin Lewis Perl), processes for creating food coloring, decaffeination and sugar substitute (Torunn Atteraas Garin), processes for the mass production of penicillin (Jasper H. Kane), X-ray generator and rotational radiation therapy (John G. Trump), nuclear reactor and hydrogen bomb (John Archibald Wheeler), and contact lenses (Norman Gaylord), among many others. Alumnus Fred Waller who invented Cinerama and the Waller Gunnery Trainer, also obtained the first patent for a water ski. The first patents for touch screen cash machine (Richard J. Orford), and zoom lens (Leonard Bergstein), were also obtained by NYU alumni. Some of the most prolific inventors in American history are NYU alumni, for example Jerome H. Lemelson whose 605 patents involved the cordless telephone, fax machine, videocassette recorder and camcorder, among others; Samuel Ruben whose inventions include electric battery; James Wood who invented cable-lift elevator, fabricated the steel cables for the Brooklyn Bridge and contributed to the development of lockmaking, submarine, electric generator, electric motor, transformer and the design of the refrigerator; and Albert Macovski whose innovations include the single-tube color camera and real-time phased array imaging for ultrasound. NYU is the birthplace of the tractor beam and 5G. Before and during World War II, NYU's Tandon School of Engineering worked on problems whose solution led to the development of radar, and later broke ground in electromagnetic theory, electronics in general, and solved re-entry problems of the manned space capsules, as well as helped develop and design the NASDAQ Automated Quote System and trading floors. Developer of the early telephone systems in the United States Bancroft Gherardi Jr., developer of the submarine communications facilities Jack M. Sipress, inventor of Italy's first computer Mario Tchou, designer of the Panama Canal locks Henry C. Goldmark, designer of the Pentagon Hugh John Casey, designer of the Apollo Lunar Module Thomas J. Kelly, as well as the designer of virtually every major bridge in New York City from the George Washington to the Verrazano, Leopold Just, are also NYU alumni.
Many of the world's most renowned companies, such as IBM (Charles Ranlett Flint), Twitter (Jack Dorsey), Bloomberg L.P. (Charles Zegar), Jacobs Engineering Group (Joseph J. Jacobs), Hudson Group (Robert B. Cohen), MTV (Tom Freston), Barnes & Noble (Leonard Riggio), Northrop Grumman (William T. Schwendler), Automatic Data Processing (Henry Taub), Duracell (Samuel Ruben), Bugle Boy (William C. W. Mow), Virgin Mobile USA (Dan Schulman), among many others, were founded or co-founded by NYU alumni. Likewise, many of the world's most famous companies were either owned or led by NYU alumni. For example, Lockheed Martin (Robert J. Stevens), Xerox (Ursula Burns), Yahoo! (Alfred Amoroso), TPV Technology (Jason Hsuan), 20th Century Fox (Marvin Davis), BAE Systems Inc (Mark Ronald), AECOM (John Dionisio), Pfizer (John Elmer McKeen), Ingersoll Rand (Herbert L. Henkel), General Motors (Alfred P. Sloan), Sears (Arthur C. Martinez), The New York Times (Spencer Trask), Stanley Black & Decker (John Trani), American International Group (Harvey Golub), American Express (Edward P. Gilligan), Qwest (Joseph Nacchio), Chase Bank (Walter V. Shipley), CBS (Laurence Alan Tisch), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (Charles A. Heimbold, Jr.), Citigroup (Robert I. Lipp), Morgan Stanley (Robert A. Kindler), Marvel Entertainment (John Turitzin), ConocoPhillips (John Carrig), Deloitte (Barry Salzberg), Sony Pictures Entertainment (Peter Guber), GQ (Steven Florio), Viacom (Thomas E. Dooley), Liberty Media (John C. Malone), Verizon (Lawrence Babbio Jr.) and Chemtura (Vincent A. Calarco), just to name a few. Pioneer of Silicon Valley, Eugene Kleiner, and World Trade Center site owner, Larry Silverstein, are also alumni of NYU.
The following are examples of some of the many notable members of some of the many notable graduating classes: class of 1941, which graduated three later Nobel Prize laureates (Julius Axelrod, Gertrude B. Elion and Clifford Shull), Olympic Gold Medalist John Woodruff, sportscaster Howard Cosell, former dean of Duke University's School of Engineering Walter J. Seeley and sociologist Morris Janowitz; 1951 included professor emeritus at MIT and former DARPA director Jack Ruina, former chair of the Computer Science Department at University of California, Berkeley Martin H. Graham and Cathleen Synge Morawetz, first woman recipient of National Medal of Science; 1957 included Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, former dean of Northwestern University's School of Engineering and Applied Science Bruno A. Boley and former president of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Josef Singer; 1964 included former Chief Engineer of NASA Johnson Space Center Jay Greene, Turing Award winner Judea Pearl, former Cooper Union Engineering School Dean and the first female dean of an engineering school in the United States Eleanor K. Baum, former chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at California Institute of Technology K. Mani Chandy, former Vice Provost and Dean of Research at Stanford University Arthur Bienenstock, former head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Jeffrey P. Freidberg, former scientist of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the first space tourist to fund his own trip into space Dennis Tito, former Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) Paul Tagliabue, and film director Martin Scorsese; 1974 included astronaut and Senior Advisor for Engineering Development at NASA Langley Research Center Charles Camarda, chairman of the chemical engineering department at Johns Hopkins University Jerome Gavis, United States Navy Captain and astronaut Lee Morin and astronaut and NASA Space Flight Medalist Paolo Nespoli; and 1977 included: former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan; IRS Commissioner Mark Everson; former INSEAD Dean Gabriel Hawawini; Pulitzer, Oscar and Tony Award winner John Patrick Shanley; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; NASDAQ CEO Robert Greifeld; Ma Ying-jeou president of Taiwan; Guillermo Endara president of Panama, Clive Davis music industry executive, and Cathy Minehan, Federal Reserve Chairman Boston.
NYU has been portrayed in books, movies and television shows, and the campus of NYU has been the backdrop for a number of different books and movies.