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Washington Square news | MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2012 |

Former NYU exec joins White House By Eric Benson Jacob Lew, former executive vice president of operations for NYU, will join the White House as the new chief of staff at the end of the month. In his press conference earlier in January, President Barack Obama spoke of his confidence and trust in Lew, who will replace William Daley. “Over the last year he has helped strengthen our economy and streamline the government at a time when we need to do everything we can to keep our recovery going,” Obama said. He also spoke of Lew’s accomplishments outside the national borders: “Jack spent two years running the extremely complex and challenging Budget and Operations process for secretary [Hillary] Clinton, at the state department where his portfolio also included managing the civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And over the last year, he has weighed in on many of the important foreign policy decisions.” As chief of staff, Lew will be re-

sponsible for aiding the president in directing, managing and overseeing daily operations and policy development. Lew, a graduate from Georgetown University Law Center, was a practicing attorney before becoming a senior policy adviser to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill from 1979 to 1987. Before coming to NYU in 2001 as executive vice president for operations and a professor at Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Lew directed the Office of Management and Budget under the Clinton administration. He gained experience in the private sector when he joined Citigroup Global Wealth Management as chief operating officer after leaving the university in 2006. Most recently, he served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration. NYU President John Sexton said Lew was a key member of the leadership team. “NYU was privileged to have been

able to avail itself of Jack’s dedication, wisdom and good judgment,” Sexton said. “We’re very pleased these attributes are now in service of the presidency and the country.” Lew, who oversaw the fiscal budget of the university, established a $200,000 emergency assistance fund in 2005 to support graduate students facing medical emergencies. He also began providing compensation for travel and meal purchases made by graduate students who were involved in trainings and meetings outside NYU.  “Jack Lew brings amazing intellect and breadth to this new role, as he has throughout his career,” Wagner dean Ellen Schall said. “He was a great teacher on top of everything else; of course incredibly wellinformed, but also very generous to his students and very thoughtful in helping students understand and appreciate the nuances of policy making at the federal level.” Eric Benson is a deputy university editor. Email him at

Tech presence increases in NYC By Hanqing Chen

What was once a startup desert a decade ago during the dot-com bubble, New York is seeing a quiet growth as the up-and-coming Silicon Valley. Tech giant Google wrapped up 2011 as its biggest hiring year ever, with 7,000 new employees worldwide. Their New York office now holds 2,500 positions and is looking to expand further in 2012. Longtime New York-based online food delivery service Seamless also announced its expansion with 50 new open positions. For college students in New York City, these roles spell boundless job opportunities. According to Google spokesperson Jordan Newman, the company has hired extensively from local universities last year, including NYU, Columbia University, Fordham University and Rensselaer Polytechnic

Institute for both engineering and sales positions. Seamless press officer Allison Brady also identified the company’s interest in finding collegiate talent from New York City. Stern professor Alexander Tuzhili thinks the entrepreneurship culture of New York will continue to ripen, eventually pushing the city to become a startup-friendly arena with more adventurous venture capital funds. “New York-based [venture capitals] are willing to expand their funding to other types of startups beyond the new media and digital marketing companies,” he said. Finally, Tuzhili noted New York has the greens to lure in Silicon Valley’s most creative computer geeks. However, Stern professor Norman White predicts that the city will approach the peak of its growth soon with such extensive support from

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and startups evolving faster than ever. “I don’t think this is just a bubble, although there certainly is some froth right now,” he said. But, according to White, this is the natural economic cycle — it is doubtful that we will see a bust like the dotcom bubble of 2000. CAS sophomore Rachel Rosen said she is optimistic about her chance of landing a job as a computer science major in the recent surge of tech company expansions. “I feel confident that I’ll get [job offers], and that I’ll probably have a lot of choices, too,” she said. “A lot of computer science majors are getting multiple job offers before they even graduate because the tech industry is growing and the demand for programmers is high.” Hanqing Chen is investigative editor. Email her at

Text, reply, now occupy By Hanqing Chen If Zuccotti Park seems empty to you, look again. The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to live on through virtual reconstructions on smartphone browsers. Behind this technology known as Augmented Reality is NYU-Poly professor Mark Skwarek, who developed the first and one of the most used virtual applications last October. Since Occupiers were evicted in December, Skwarek has been working to refine and rebuild his program called protestAR. With this program, users can point the camera of their smartphones to physical areas in Zuccotti Park and see past pictures or video clips which occurred in these locations. “I documented Zuccotti Park almost every day in the beginning and very often at the end, usually every other day,” he said. “A focus of my documentation was the protest line and the signs of the protesters. I chose the more interesting and thought-provoking protesters for Wall Street. I continue to add more and more.” Skwarek was first inspired when he visited Wall Street in the midst of the movement, only to find the area occupied by police officers rather than protesters. Determined to initiate a protest on the web, he began gathering photos and video footage from Occupiers around the globe by using the hashtag #ARoccupywallstreet on Twitter. ProtestAR now has over 80 permanent virtual Occupiers and hundreds of visitors who drop in to check out the spectacle. Carl Skelton, NYU-Poly director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center, warned that


ProtestAR allows users to view scenes from the Occupy movement. the virtual experience could take away the excitement and surprise in a protest and also decrease the level of engagement for the demonstrators. “[AR] absolves ‘participants’ of some of the basic requirements of a traditional protest [like] showing up, getting hassled [and] offering oneself for arrest,” he said. But Tisch professor Tavia Nyong’o hopes that AR will serve as a reminder that the story of OWS is still being written. “Occupying is about more than protesting: It is about interacting,” Nyong’o said. “I hope the app offers the possibility for users to connect with each other, chat, exchange ideas and support and get involved.” Back on the ground, some protesters have seen the limitations of the budding technology of ProtestAR. Alan Sondheim, an Occupier and AR user, thinks the final documentation lacks the visceral effects of protests, as its components are from a camera or camcorder. “I feel that AR is still too techdependent,” he said. Hanqing Chen is investigative editor. Email her at

Bloomberg, Cuomo communicate new year plans By Kristine Itliong and Emily Yang

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered the State of the City and State of the State addresses earlier this month to discuss their plans for the upcoming year. STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS “We accomplished big things in 2011 — but don’t worry: We have even bigger plans for 2012,” Bloomberg said as he opened his speech. Bloomberg outlined his proposal for education reform in five steps: establishing merit-based pay for teachers, improving the teacher evaluation system, opening 100 new schools, preparing students for college and careers and ensuring that students can afford higher level education. Bloomberg concluded, explaining his ultimate goal of making New York City’s economy “a global capital of innovation” by creating more jobs. However, Bloomberg’s education reform plans have faced criticism. Steinhardt professor, Diane Ravitch who specializes in education reform, questioned Bloomberg’s plan to close 33 of the

city’s low-performing schools. “As for firing the staff of 33 schools, this is not promising,” argued Ravitch, “It will demoralize these schools and many others. The record of school transformations done in this brutal fashion is weak.” Ravitch offered alternate solutions such as smaller class sizes, collaboration between teachers and city leaders, the employment of more social workers, an increase in student health services, a balanced curriculum and parent involvement. STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS Cuomo, too, began his speech by pointing to accomplishments from the past year, which include the enactment of the first property tax cap, pass of an affordable energy policy, creation of a job program for disadvantaged inner-city youth and legalization of same-sex marriage. “We restored New York’s reputation to the progressive capital of the nation,” Cuomo said. “We passed landmark achievements in social justice and economic justice.” Cuomo, who plans to create jobs while limiting government spending in 2012, spoke of two-dozen new economic and public policy plans.

He discussed a range of proposals like building the nation’s largest convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack site in Queens, as well as turning the current convention center, the Jacob Javits Center, into a mixed use facility. He also spoke of legalizing casino gambling, which he said would give the state $1 billion revenue. While Stern professor Lawrence White disagrees with the governor’s plans to invest in energy efficiency, solar power and the agricultural sector, he expressed approval of Cuomo’s proposal to improve public education and establish the New York Works Fund and Task Force. “Where’s the role of the state in doing something a private sector can’t do?” White asked. “Things like education and infrastructure — improve the roads, improve the airports, educate our kids, get those graduation rates up and encourage more to be going on to higher education — [those are] a legitimate role for the state,” he added. “A lot of this other stuff feels like it’s succumbing to special interest.” Kristine Itliong is a deputy city/state editor. Emily Yang is city/state editor. Email them at


Washington Square News Janurary 23, 2012

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