To do their job, universities rely on the public's trust. The expectation that they will be left alone to pursue the the truth, and to promote the impartial search for the truth, and to inspire their students to be incorruptible in the face of temptations to twist the truth for private benefit, places an enormous moral burden on universities, much greater than that on any other kind of corporation. To the extent they are seen as just as venal and corruptible as the political and corporate institutions of society, they will be treated with the same cynicism and contempt as are currently reserved for the likes of the U.S. Congress and Exxon.--Harry Lewis. "Why NYU in Abu Dhabi Matters"
The general contractor that helped oversee the construction of the campus isn’t some fly-by-night firm outside N.Y.U.’s purview. Quite the opposite. The contractor is run by a trustee of N.Y.U.’s board: Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chief executive of the Mubadala Development Company. It was Mr. Mubarak and others who helped persuade Mr. Sexton and the rest of the university’s board to build the campus in the first place, with a $50 million donation from the government of Abu Dhabi.---New York Times.
Some NYU faculty have aggressively defended their institution on the philosophy blog NewAPPS (see this exchange). I have learned a lot from their local knowledge, and I respect their dedication to education. At the crucial juncture in this letter in the Chronicle, they write: "The issue of the construction workers has been more complicated, falling outside of NYUAD’s direct purview: it is managed by Mubadala, who contracted al-Futtaim Carillon to oversee the construction of the Sa’adiyat campus." Yet, they do not mention that Mubadala is run by NYU's Trustee Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak (a fellow Tufts graduate, but I think we just missed each other in Medford).
I do not doubt for a moment that the NYU faculty are sincere and that like the rest of us, they act from noble intentions. I stipulate that their role has, in fact, ameliorated and improved the local labor situation. But it is a bit rich for them to accuse others of painting at "best only part of the picture," while not addressing the political economy and crony capitalism of their own institution. In such a context, it obfuscates when one talks of 'partners,' and their 'compliance monitoring.' I understand not biting the hand that feeds you, but you don't occupy the high ground, when, in fact, you omit mention of the folk that (indirectly) fund your salary from criticism.+