L. Jay Oliva

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Lawrence Jay Oliva (September 23, 1933 – April 17, 2014), known as L. Jay Oliva, was the 14th President of New York University.

Born in Walden, New York[1] he earned a B.A. from Manhattan College (1955) and a M.A. (1957)/Ph.D. (1960) from Syracuse University.[1] He was a University Fellow at Syracuse, a Fribourg Fellow at the University of Paris and a member of Phi Gamma Delta.[2]

Born to an Italian father, his mother was an Irish-speaker from County Galway, Ireland, and he showed interest and lent NYU to Irish-themed celebrations, exhibitions, etc. under the aegis of his Presidency of New York University. He also supported the formal establishment of the University's Irish and Irish-American Studies program within Glucksman Ireland House NYU in 1993.

Oliva authored and edited numerous works on Russian and European history, including, "Misalliance: A Study of French Policy in Russia During the Seven Years' War" (New York University Press, 1964) and "Russia in the Era of Peter the Great" (Prentice-Hall, 1969), his fields of academic specialization are 18th-century Russia, Russian diplomatic history and 18th-century Europe.[citation needed]

Oliva was given honorary degrees by Tel Aviv University (Doctor of Philosophy, 1994);[3] University College Dublin (Doctor of Literature, 1993); Hebrew Union College (Doctor of Humane Letters, 1992); Saint Thomas Aquinas College (Doctor of Laws, 1989); and Manhattan College (Doctor of Humane Letters, 1987), he was decorated a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor (1997) and received the Premio Guido Dorso of Italy (1998).

Through Oliva's initiative, NYU was the founding member of the League of World Universities, established in 1991, whose membership now represents nearly fifty of the world's great urban universities. La Pietra, a cluster of five villas in Tuscany bequeathed to NYU by the late Sir Harold Acton, and the Lillian Vernon Center for International Affairs at Washington Square, serve as hubs for international activities that draw scholars and students from around the world. Oliva also created the "NYU Speaking Freely" program to provide students with opportunities for language learning outside the classroom. In recognition of this work, he received the Foreign Language Advocacy Award in 2001 from the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,[4] he served as President of New York University from 1991 until May 16, 2002. Under his leadership the school's fund-raising efforts soared, increasing from approximately $100 million annually in 1991 to more the $350 million in 2001. In 1995 Oliva oversaw the completion of what was at that time the first billion-dollar campaign undertaken by an American university. Launched in 1985 under Oliva’s predecessor, John Brademas, the campaign was successfully completed five years ahead of schedule,[5] he signed the first contract between a private university and a graduate assistant labor union, the Graduate Student Organizing Committee of Local 2110/United Auto Workers.[citation needed]

Oliva died on April 17, 2014, aged 80, of pancreatic cancer, he is survived by his wife Mary Ellen and sons Jay and Edward.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b "Man in the News: Lawrence Jay Oliva; New President Is Chosen for N.Y.U." The New York Times. December 12, 1990. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  2. ^ http://www.phigam.org/page.aspx?pid=2060
  3. ^ "Honorary Degrees Conferment Ceremony" (PDF). Tel Aviv University. May 17, 2008. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "The James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award". Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  5. ^ "History of the Office". New York University. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  6. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/nyregion/l-jay-oliva-who-led-the-rise-of-nyu-dies-at-80.html?_r=0
  7. ^ Notice of death of L.J. Oliva, nyulocal.com, April 18, 2014.
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Brademas
President of New York University
Succeeded by
John Sexton