Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Warren Adler (Heights '47) Remembers His Most Influential NYU Professor


We are pleased to bring you the first in a new alumni series we are calling "My Most Influential NYU Professor." We couldn't be happier that Warren Adler has provided the first entry. We hope you enjoy reading this and look forward to receiving your stories. You can email us at

When I arrived at the University Heights campus at NYU at the age of seventeen in January 1945, I was astonished at its beauty, the wonderful landscaping and the architectural wonders that fully realized my fantasies of what a college campus should look like.

World War II was in its European death throes and the ASTP boys in uniform were, if memory serves, still active on the campus. The trip from Brooklyn from the Kingston Avenue IRT station to Burnside Avenue was more than an hour and the walk to the campus another fifteen minutes. I didn’t mind. I was teethed on the subway. My family never owned a car.

My parents could never afford to pay for campus dormitory housing and having traveled to High School by subway, I did not find it a hardship at all. By every measure I was attending a real college on a beautiful campus in a jewel of a setting high above a sparkling river. Sadly, it is no longer part of NYU, a historical mistake in judgment.

I registered for an accelerated course which would mean that I would earn my degree in two years eight months. Life was uncertain for a seventeen year old in that time. In less than a year, I would register for the draft and the prospects for ending the war with Japan were not promising. The Japanese although pushed back to the mainland were apparently determined to fight to the end.

At that stage in my life I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had just graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, an elite school that filled its ranks from students who had passed a rather difficult test and allegedly had a high enough IQ to pass the demanding courses. It took me one term to determine that I was not very interested in technical matters. Besides, it was an all boys school, a feature not very attractive to a young student whose testerone level was rising precipitously. I went through classes like an automaton, graduating somewhere in the lower half of a class of more than 700 graduates.

I was captivated by the Heights campus, made friends easily and, by some miracle of oratory and what must have been a deftly written speech I was elected President of the freshman class. This election produced a clipping in the campus newspaper that my father carried in his wallet until the day he died. I loved my days on campus and proudly wore the uniform of the ROTC. Unable to afford much else, I worked after classes in all sorts of odd jobs. I did not think this a hardship or unusual since I had worked after school ever since I was eligible for working papers when I was fourteen.

All freshman courses were required curriculum. But it was my course in English, taught by Professor Don M. Wolfe that, in retrospect changed my life forever. Many college students can cite similar experiences, the mentor, the inspiration, the great teacher who took the student under his or her wing and made the crucial difference, who pointed the way to a fulfilling and prosperous career.

Although I read compulsively and diligently, mostly the great adventure stories for boys that I found on the shelves of the Stone Avenue children’s library in Brooklyn I had never seriously imagined myself as a writer of the imagination. Nevertheless, in retrospect, I believe the spark must have been there. Perhaps it was my mother’s example. She was an inveterate customer of the lending libraries that were all over Brooklyn in those years, where for pennies a day you could rent all the novels that you could consume. It was part of her regular routine after the housework was over to concentrate on novels. Returning from school, I found her always with her nose in a book. If that was the spark, Dr. Wolfe was the one who provided the kindling.

He was not robust, nor did he have the propensity to charm his students with professorial humor or was he a master of the sardonic rebuke. He was pleasant and businesslike, hardly warm and fuzzy. He was clearly a dedicated teacher, but he was not given to socializing with students. He was not mesmerizing, but it was obvious that he loved teaching. I had no knowledge of his past or his background. He had arrived in my life full grown as himself, sent my way as a kind of miracle.

He assigned compositions and encouraged us to stretch the use of the language to create imaginative imagery and use muscular words to tell our stories and create our plots and descriptions. He was extremely diligent in his reading of our material. When I would receive one of my compositions back, he wrote his criticisms in red ink scrawls and you felt dead certain that he had read every word. It was through those red scrawls that I interpreted his message. You can write, son. Keep at it.

He did not single me out as anyone special in the class. Indeed, I can’t remember that he ever singled anyone out at all, but receiving those critiques, mostly words of praise and encouragement, clipped and copious, was all I needed to make my lifetime decision. I don’t know if he ever knew the impact that these tiny critiques made on my life, but he kindled something deep in my psyche, an ambition that still burns inside of me to this day. Is that not the ultimate reward for a dedicated teacher? For that reason alone, I will always love my alma mater.

I got an A in freshman English and, in fact, in all my English courses, two of which stick in my mind as essential building blocks in career, the European novel taught by Professor Ranney and the Bible as History taught by Professor Baer who was the Dean of the College of Arts and Science in those years. I extend to them my belated gratitude.

Believe me I am not exaggerating the impact of Professor Wolfe and the enhancement of the other professors. I was not as successful in my other courses, especially the sciences. Summers as part of my accelerated program I went to Washington Square, but none of the Professors there made as much of an impact on me as Doctor Wolfe.

A year after graduation I followed Dr. Wolfe to the New School to take a creative writing course. By then I was committed to spend my life writing novels, short stories and plays. Taking his course was like the icing on the cake. In my class was Mario Puzo and a number of other writers of great talent who I feel certain were equally inspired by Dr. Wolfe. At the New School, Dr. Wolfe arrange for the publication of a number of short story collections. Included in those anthologies was the work of remarkable talents among them Puzo and William Styron.

Was he aware of the fact that he was the greatest influence in my life? Perhaps in the lives of others as well? I doubt it. Sixty two years after my encounter with Dr. Wolfe, I credit him with continuing to be the greatest influence on my life and work.

Even today in my still very active career, he is still my teacher and guide. I cannot write a single sentence without wondering what Dr. Wolfe would say about it in his red ink scrawls.

Warren Adler is the author of 30 published novels and short story collections including The War of the Roses and Random Hearts. Two of recent novels are headed to the silver screen, Target Churchill and Funny Boys. His works have been translated into more than 25 languages.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Professor Steven Lukes Receives Honorary Degree


We are pleased to announce that NYU Sociology professor Steven Lukes will be awarded with an honorary degree from the University of East Anglia (UEA) this summer.

Professor Lukes will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters, and he is the author of numerous books and articles about political and social theory. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy.

For more information on Professor Lukes please visit his NYU page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Washington Square Park Facelift


Many NYU alumni, students and faculty came outside yesterday to admire the newly revealed fountain and renovated section of >Washington Square Park.

From the >NYC Department of Parks and Recreation:
The first phase of the Washington Square Park reconstruction, which began December 10, 2007, covered the northwest quadrant and the central plaza. The improvements include new and expanded lawns and planting beds, the relocation and conservation of the fountain, conservation of the Alexander Holley Monument, repaved paths, new benches, lighting, and more. The fountain was completely rebuilt and restored in its previous dimensions and is now the focal point of a large central plaza, rebuilt on one level to make it accessible. The shifting of the fountain helped make possible an approximately 20 percent increase in unpaved green space in the park. The new lawns abutting the plaza are for passive recreation. This phase of construction was formally opened May 26, 2009 with a community celebration.

Here's what is included in the second phase of the Park reconstruction:
Restored landscaping, plantings, and flower beds replacing excess asphalt in the remaining northeast, southeast, and southwest quadrants. The northeast playground will be upgraded, and a new play area in the southwest section will incorporate the "mounds," rebuilt slightly below grade to improve sightlines and minimize their impact on the park landscape, and covered with carpet-style synthetic turf for safety. A new performance stage will be built, the dog runs will be relocated and expanded, the Giuseppe Garibaldi Monument will be conserved and relocated, the petanque courts will be reconstructed, the paths will be repaved, and new lighting and fences will be added.

If you are in the neighborhood, we hope you'll stop by to see the Park and stop by for a visit with us!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bruce Altshuler, Director of New York University's Museum Studies Program


Bruce Altshuler is the director of the museum studies program at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University. He is the author of The Avant-Garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century (1994), and Isamu Noguchi (1994); editor of Collecting the New: Museums and Contemporary Art (2005); and coeditor of Isamu Noguchi: Essays and Conversations (1994). He has published numerous essays on modern and contemporary art, including catalog essays for exhibitions organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Japan Society, New York; and the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany.

Bruce was recently heard on NPR's Morning Edition, talking with Renee Montagne about whether museum expansions are paying off. Click here to listen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Khaya Cookie Company- Quest For Capetown


It's always nice to hear about passionate entrepreneurial NYU alumni who are determined to make the world a better place. Alicia Polak is one such alumna. She is the founder of the Khaya Cookie Company, which employs and trains jobless South Africans as skilled artisan bakers. For every 1500 boxes of cookies sold they create 1 new job in South Africa. For every 500 orders packed they create 4 new jobs at their distribution center located in Philadelphia, PA.

We are excited to announce that the Khaya Cookie Company has just launched a contest that could you send you and a friend on a ten day trip to South Africa. All you have to do is purchase 3 boxes of cookies to be entered into the contest to win the trip or other great prizes. More importantly, your contribution goes to a wonderful cause.

All the contest details can be found at

We had the chance to sit down and talk with Alicia about NYU and her company. Click here to read the interview.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Martin Karlinsky (WSC '72) To Receive Honorary Fellowship and Become President of the American Friends of The Hebrew University


We are pleased to feature one of our highly accomplished graduates, Martin Karlinsky (WSC '72, cum laude).

Mr. Karlinsky is a practicing lawyer and a partner with the New York office of Butzel Long, P.C. Specializing in complex civil litigation, trials and appeals, he has been principal author and counsel of record for amici curiae in eight major Supreme Court cases concerning issues of concern to the Jewish community ranging from hate speech to separation of church-and-state controversies to affirmative action. Previously he was a partner and senior counsel of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, and founding and managing partner of Camhy Karlinsky & Stein LLP. Mr. Karlinsky is also an active member of the Anti-Defamation League, currently serving as a member of its National Commission and its National Executive Committee.

We were very excited to learn that Mr. Karlinsky has been elected President of the American Friends of The Hebrew University, and will receive an honorary fellowship from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in recognition of his longstanding leadership in the American Jewish community and advocacy for and defense of the State of Israel.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem bestows Honorary Fellowships on a highly select group of esteemed individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, philanthropy, and advocacy in support of the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. Recipients are distinguished by their professional achievements, propensity for Jewish communal service, and desire to help build bridges to peace and mutual understanding between people and among nations.

Each year, Honorary Fellowship recipients are approved by The Hebrew University Faculty Senate and recognized at a ceremony in Israel during the annual international Board of Governors meeting in June. Honorary Fellows are welcomed into the ranks of The Hebrew University’s most distinguished Friends in the presence of leaders and supporters from Israel and many countries throughout the world.

On behalf of our NYU family, congratulations Mr. Karlinsky!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Many Congrats!


The past year went by very quickly and Commencement Week has arrived. Congratulations to all our graduates! This week you will become NYU Alumni and we encourage you to keep in touch and take full advantage of the many alumni benefits offered.

We hope you and your families have a wonderful week full of celebrations. And while we're on the topic of celebrations, congratulations to the following alumni who recently tied the knot.

Joyce Said (CAS) and Caleb Ward

Saydra Battersby and John Quintanilla (GSAS)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mark Your Calendars for NYU Alumni Day 2009!


On Saturday October 3, 2009, alumni from around the globe will all reunite on the square to take part in this year's NYU Alumni Day, an exciting day of programs showcasing some of NYU’s most dynamic and innovative faculty and alumni. Be sure to check back on the Alumni Day Website for a detailed schedule of events.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Run Osler, Run

Staff Photo by Tim Hawk for

Tom Osler (Courant '69) likes to run. He likes to run so much in fact that he claims he has logged over 100,000 miles.

But it's not as though all the Running Man does is run. A respected Rowan University mathematics professor since 1972, Osler has achieved a classroom trifecta in less than half of 2009. He recently was honored at Monmouth University by the New Jersey Section of the Mathematical Association of America for distinguished teaching. That follows two previous 2009 accolades: AFT Union Gary Hunter Mentoring Award and the Journal of Mathematics and Computer Education Award.

Be sure to read the complete article about Tom here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009



We've mentioned the plans for an NYU-DC campus on this blog before but wanted to share this recent article that appeared in The Washington Business Journal.

Hickok Cole Architects is designing the 75,000-square-foot mixed-use facility that is targeting Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. It will include space for classes, support staff, lobbyists and student dorms.

The five floors of student living space will feature four-person suites, and one challenge the architects encountered was creating equitable living spaces in the narrow, 60-feet wide site.

A developer has not yet been picked for the project. NYU hopes to have the center in operation by the fall semester of 2012.

For the complete article please click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grizzly Bear


Keep your eye on the band Grizzly Bear, because you'll be seeing and hearing more about them in the coming months. All four members of Grizzly Bear attended New York University: Ed Droste, Chris Taylor, Chris Bear, and Daniel Rossen.

From New York Magazine:
The band’s first album, 2004’s Horn of Plenty, came out at a moment when it was good to be weird and from Brooklyn. Fans hooked on the defiant inscrutability of Animal Collective or the dense soundscapes of TV on the Radio were quick to embrace a similarly adventurous but more intimate sound. By the time they released Yellow House, in 2006, Grizzly Bear’s first album with all four current members, it became clear they were not just the latest quirky collective. Their songs had the egghead production of art-school bands like Talking Heads and the complex vocal harmonies of a Baroque choir but were driven by irresistibly sweet pop melodies. Their third album, Veckatimest, out later this month, perfects this hybrid. In the same way that the band members themselves exude a beguiling purity of spirit—they’re cheerful yuppie nerds, not brooding hipsters—so does Veckatimest exude a basic human warmth that is deeply seductive.

Be sure to read the complete article about Grizzly Bear in New York Magazine.

For more information on Grizzly Bear visit their website at

We'll leave you with a music video for their song, "Fix It"

Grizzly Bear Video - "Fix It" - The funniest home videos are here

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jeff Levick Appointed President of Global Advertising and Strategy at AOL


It has been announced that Jeff Levick (WSC '93) has been named President of Global Advertising and Strategy at AOL. In his new role, Levick primarily will be responsible for Platform-A, AOL's advertising arm, and for developing global revenue strategies.

Levick comes to AOL from Google where he was vice president of industry development and marketing for the Americas.

For more information on this please click here.

Jeff, congratulations from all of us here at NYU!

Friday, May 1, 2009

NYU Offers iPhone Programming Class

Have you ever had an idea for a great iPhone application? NYU is now offering an iPhone programming class taught by Nathan Hull. Here's the description:

In this course, we will learn to create applications for Apple’s iPhone 3G using Objective-C and the iPhone SDK.

Since its introduction this past summer, the Apple iPhone SDK has been revealed to be a powerful platform upon which to build sophisticated applications. Without actually having to own an iPhone, students will be able to build and test their applications on Intel Apple Macs using the freely available compiler and simulator. (Macs are available in the ITS labs). In addition to the development tools, students will become proficient in the object-oriented language Objective-C, the Apple iPhone Frameworks, and the principles of Cocoa development. This is a new, dynamic, constantly-evolving topic, and students will be at the forefront a new technological advancement.

If you are interested in learning more please click here.