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Guide to the Administrative Papers of President James McNaughton Hester RG 3.0.7

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2641

New York University Archives

Collection processed by Collection processed by Rob Dishon, Jeane Mixon, and Darren W. Johnson. Additional processing by Erin Shaw.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 24, 2013
Description is in English.

Historical Note

The Office of the President is the top administrative office and is responsible for the efficient management of the entire University. The President must carefully attend to the following major considerations: effective administration, including the development, implementation, and monitoring of university activities; the cultivation of outreach programs; and the promotion of university activities to prospective donors and the general public.

On December 16, 1955, the New York State Board of Regents amended the University Charter, forcing a number of terminology changes. The title of the chief executive of the University changed from Chancellor to President on July 1, 1956. The Board of Trustees adopted a measure providing for a Chancellor and Executive Vice-President who would serve as a general advisor to the President and perform duties in the President's absence. The Director for the University Budget and Assistant Director of the Budget for research service would assist the Executive Vice-President.

Dr. Hester came from Long Island University to NYU in 1960. For the next two years he served as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science and Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences. In 1962 he became president. Hester's term encompassed a number of important events in the history of the University. Chief among these were the student activities of the 1960s and the growth and transformation of the University into a prestigious urban educational institution.

NYU experienced severe financial difficulties during the 1960s caused in part by diminishing enrollment and subsequent loss of tuition money. Several strategies were proposed to solve the problem, including a plan to sell the Heights Campus in the Bronx. The closing of the Heights campus in 1973 caused some controversy. Opinions and comments of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community at large are well-represented in correspondence found in Hester's papers.

Quelling student dissatisfaction during this time presented an enormous task. Numerous student groups demanded changes within the University. They conducted civil rights and anti-war protests as well as protests calling for administrative changes. In 1966 students responded to proposed tuition, fees, and dormitory rate increases with staged marches, boycotts, and sit-ins. As a result, the University allowed the inclusion of student representatives on committees and boards that dealt with fees, curriculum, and discipline. The administration's response to the concerns of the students is well-documented in the collection and serves as a source of information for student affairs of the period.

Through consolidation of its operations, changing its admission policies, and increasing its involvement in urban affairs, NYU transformed its institutional character. Following the sale of the Heights campus, NYU focused on developing its presence around Washington Square. The construction of Bobst Library allowed NYU to consolidate library and research collections formerly scattered over 36 locations. A more selective admission policy encouraged more full time students to attend and spurred the university to purchase residential facilities. Much information within the collection reflects this transformation, which began in the 1950s and continued through Hester's administration.

Dr. Hester resigned from the presidency in 1975 to become president of the United Nations University. During Hester's 13-year tenure, NYU experienced revolutionary developments that changed forever the goals, statements, actions, and perception of New York University.