With a none-too-shabby $40 million donation from finance billionaire Donald Marron, New York University on Wednesday launched new a research and academic institute dedicated to cities and urban issues.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the idea for the institute — officially called the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment, after its benefactor — first came about two years ago when Marron, an NYU trustee, heard a presentation on landing New York City funding for an applied-sciences center.
“He said to me, ‘This is very important, but the issue’s bigger,’” NYU president John Sexton recalled to the Journal. “‘This isn’t just a matter of applied science, it’s a matter of social science, it’s a matter of humanities and the soul of a city.’”
The institute’s mission, per its website, is “to better understand how cities affect the environment and how the environment shapes urbanization.” It looks like the focus will be on urbanization, infrastructure and regulation, and will lean heavily on cities in the developing world. NYU Law School dean Richard Revesz will step down from his current position in May to lead the Marron Institute.
The institute NYU offers 22 degrees in urban policy in six different subject areas. (These have names like “Urban Ecology,” “Urban Planning and Urban Systems” and “Public Policy, Urban Governance and the Law.”) The first round of grants for the institute’s research arm will be announced in the spring.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that Donald Marron had given more than $1 billion to NYU over his lifetime.