Tisch School of the Arts honored alumnus Billy Crystal (class of 1970) at its gala last night, and NYU president John Sexton was excited. “I mean, who would have thought I would be with Billy Crystal onstage in an evening? University presidents don’t get to do that. That’s why I love Tisch,” Sexton gushed to Daily Intel at the gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Changing the subject, we asked about tensions among locals in Greenwich Village who aren’t so giddy about the school’s plans to add on millions of square feet in the neighborhood. “NYU is not gobbling up; NYU is enhancing the Village,” President Sexton said. “You know, the interesting thing is that every day I get stopped on the street and thanked by people who are neighbors of ours for what NYU does in the Village. The amount of love for NYU in this city is the amount of love that a great university deserves when it helps anchor a city.” We asked what kinds of things the neighbors thank him for, and Sexton abruptly terminated our conversation.
Meanwhile, other NYU alumni are split on the issue. Jesse L. Martin, currently appearing on Broadway in The Merchant of Venice, thinks that there needs to be some kind of balance. “Everything can’t have a purple flag on it,” he said. “I’m just a New York resident, so I see the things in a bigger picture. You know, I love NYU, I owe them my career, but the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t mean that they get to have every building in the Village.”
Another famous grad, director Chris Columbus, thinks NYU’s expansion is great. “It’s part of my culture and my past, so it’s fantastic,” Columbus told us. Oh, that’s nice to hear, we thought. Does he live in the Village? “No,” Columbus admitted. “I live in San Francisco.”
Related: The School that Ate New York [NYM]