NYU Stern has clearly become one of the top-tier centers of business education in the country, attracting not only the brightest students but the most accomplished and respected faculty. We have achieved this stature by dint of our strong belief that the best learning takes place where both knowledge creation – in the form of faculty research – and knowledge dissemination have been optimized. An urban campus such as ours brings with it a special blend of many advantages, in the form of great intellectual and professional stimulus, and the occasional challenge, most specifically relating to physical space. On this latter point, it is with great excitement that I can report to you the launch of the Concourse Project, a historic, $35 million building initiative here at Stern that will transform our New York campus, and our educational environment, in fundamental and momentous ways.

The project has already started, with the retrofitting and expansion of the usable space in the Shimkin basement, and it will proceed, with meticulously plotted logistics, through the winter of 2009. When it is complete, the formerly cramped, dim lobbies of Tisch Hall and the Kaufman Management Center will be bright and spacious, with sunlight streaming in through soaring glass façades. Significantly, these lobbies and the Shimkin Lobby will finally be directly connected. Natural light will be brought below-grade to the redesigned Lower Concourse. Renovated, flexible classrooms will provide students and professors with the latest learning aids, such as high-speed Internet connectivity and flat-screen displays to facilitate the real-time global seminars that are a requirement of a meaningful 21st-century business education.

Providing the best business education has always been the goal of all our initiatives at Stern. Changes in the global political economy have pushed all the top schools to look beyond a narrow focus on training business leaders in the art of maximizing shareholder value and to think about the variety of ways in which businesses influence the world. The business-society dialogue is a subject that greatly interests us at Stern, and Professor Doug Guthrie and I have set out our views on it herein. We see this dialogue playing out in the thoughts and actions of our business leaders, as evident in the interviews with Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Campbell Soup CEO Doug Conant. In a similar vein, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus spoke at Stern in the fall about microfinance as a way to eradicate poverty. And student leader R. J. Panda (MBA ’08) formed the Stern Campus Greening Initiative as a way to make the dialogue real here at Washington Square.

The subprime mortgage crisis of the past 18 months is another common theme in this issue. John Paulson (BS ’78), whose insight into the subprime crisis netted his hedge fund a multibillion-dollar profit, answers questions about his coup. Professor Otto Van Hemert crunches the numbers to reveal early warning signs of the subprime crisis. A panel comprising Stern faculty and industry professionals focused solely on the subprime credit situation, with 550 in the audience, and quant Jim Simons also touched on it during Stern’s new Chats with Financiers series of events.

In other faculty research, Vasant Dhar identifies a relationship between Internet chatter and online music sales, and Zur Shapira explores the psychology of consumers faced with insurance purchase decisions.

Being a leader means doing what it takes to remain ahead of the pack. With the achievement of the Concourse Project, I think you will be proud of what we have wrought at your alma mater: the finest business education available in a state-of-the-art facility in one of the world’s most vital cities. With your continued interest, participation, and support, we will continue to lead.

Thomas F. Cooley