Arts & Science is the founding school and academic heart of New York University. It is NYU’s largest academic unit, comprising three schools—the College of Arts & Science, the Graduate School of Arts & Science, and Liberal Studies—and dozens of departments, research centers, institutes, and language and cultural houses. The 1,100-strong Arts & Science faculty (600 tenured and tenure-track) serve the students of Arts & Science and every undergraduate across New York University. Arts & Science is led by Antonio M. Merlo, PhD, who has served as the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science since 2019.
A History at the Heart of NYU
The arts and sciences gave the NYU founders their revolutionary 1831 curriculum, and what is now known as the College of Arts & Science (CAS) was the University’s original school. Over the next century and a half, Arts & Science institutions would provide the enduring throughline in NYU’s unconventional evolution. By 1886, the Graduate School of Arts & Science (GSAS) was established. In 1895, the undergraduate college was relocated to a Stanford White-designed campus in the Bronx, and remained there until 1973 as the University Heights College of Arts & Science. Back downtown, an undergraduate Arts & Science presence was soon restored, and over the ensuing decades, what is now the College of Arts & Science was known successively as the University College of Arts & Science, Washington Square College, and Washington Square University College. In 2007, Liberal Studies joined CAS and GSAS as NYU Arts & Science’s third institutional pillar.
In the early twentieth century, the University’s rapid and diversifying expansion led to a decentralization in administration and academic authority, so that by the mid-century, each of the various schools and colleges in the University offered its own arts and science curriculum and faculty. Citing the drawbacks to this structure, a landmark 1956 self-study recommended that the University’s arts and science faculty unite to serve NYU students of all schools and colleges. The sale of the University Heights campus completed the unification of the faculty and administration of NYU Arts & Science as a single organizational structure. Speaking as the first dean of the combined faculty of Arts & Science at its historic first meeting in 1973, Richard Bayly Winder proclaimed, “unity should be the watchword for the future.”
Subsequent deans would harness the power of that unity. Extraordinary leadership and donor support aligned in both 1984 and 2004, when Arts & Science departments vaulted forward with strategic faculty additions of early-career superstars and globally-renowned scholars and researchers. This investment at the intellectual heart of NYU fueled the University’s meteoric rise through the next decades, to the top echelon of elite universities.
One NYU Arts & Science
Today, NYU Arts & Science is a vibrant community of scholars, educators, learners, thinkers and doers, committed to an environment of thriving. The highly selective Arts & Science schools offer over 20,000 students distinctive learning experiences, in community with Arts & Science faculty and administrators dedicated to their intellectual growth and success. In their research and scholarship, world-class faculty not only lead within and across their own disciplines, but actively engage in question-driven collaboration, moving knowledge forward to tackle humanity’s greatest challenges. All over the world, NYU Arts & Science alumni make their mark. Whether they graduated from University Heights College of Arts & Science, University College of Arts & Science, Washington Square College, Washington Square University College, College of Arts & Science, Liberal Studies, or the Graduate School of Arts & Science, these alumni are part of one NYU Arts & Science community, boldly aspiring to imagine, discover, and create a world where we all thrive.