I spend a lot of time telling our students that our goal is to prepare them for long careers. In practical terms, what that means is that they need to develop an understanding of the bedrock foundations of business and economic success.
The contents of this issue of STERNbusiness illustrate these themes well. In their article, George Smith, Richard Sylla, and Robert Wright look back through history and point out the ways in which political, social, and cultural conditions serve as the foundation for economically successful societies.
Of course, such a process takes a long time. In their article, Peter Golder and Debanjan Mitra point out that quality is also an attribute that demands patience. One of their chief findings: companies can improve both the objective quality of their products, and, as important, the perceived quality of their prod-ucts in the marketplace. But it takes sustained effort, energetic leadership, and a long-term vision.
Energetic long-term vision and leadership is precisely what Zenas Block has provided in his quarter-century of service to NYU Stern. The program in entrepreneurial studies that Zenas pioneered in 1981 has evolved into the widely recognized Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which, through a significant grant from the Kauffman Foundation, is spearheading a university initiative to make entrepreneurship a campus-wide object of study.
Important developments may not materialize overnight, but sometimes they can arrive quickly, as Bill Silber suggests. In the summer of 1914, when a quick-thinking Treasury secretary shut down the New York Stock Exchange for four months and helped the Federal Reserve get up and running, it proved an important historical inflection point. New York assumed financial leadership from London, a position it has yet to relinquish.
While New York remains an important financial and cultural center, every week brings news that makes us realize that the world is a much bigger place than it was in 1914, or even 1984. At NYU Stern, globalization, an abstract term for many, is a way of life. The horizons of today’s students – the places they’ve been and the places they’ll go – are so much broader than they were in the past. Which means it is our challenge to provide them with the experiences, tools, and mindsets not just to understand and negotiate the world as it is, but to help lead the world as it will be. Spend some time with a group of today’s undergraduates, and I think you will agree that they are well on their way.
Today’s students are going to build their careers in a fast-changing, dynamic economy. At NYU Stern, we think we’ve hit on the right way to prepare them for that future: an unbeatable location, a commitment to excellence in research and teaching, and a culture that allows students to explore, develop, and grow.
Thomas F. Cooley