Like all who had the good fortune to cross paths with Jay Oliva throughout his illustrious career as a pre-eminent educator, and quintessential steward of NYU, I mourned his passing April 17th, very personally.
It was Jay who insisted that I trot into my history class with infants in tow, rather than cut his class at the lofty NYU University Heights campus. .
Jay was a cheering fan and forceful motivator for kids like me, who had no parents presiding over their educations. And Jay was a strong voice who taught me the value of the NYU credo–perstare y prestare. He was an unwavering supporter of my decision to found a business with $1,800 in savings and a freshly minted Bachelor’s Degree as capital. His lessons never faded though our contact was scarce during the next two decades.
Some 25 years later, while president of the university, Jay tracked me down and invited me to lunch. He told me many important things about the ever-blossoming university in which I could take pride. And he said he was proud of my business success and would be even prouder, if I would choose to give back to the University. And so I have, but the size of the debt to Jay for his sage advice can never be repaid.
From the beginning to the end of this uniquely interesting acquaintanceship, Jay Oliva lit a fire to raise my own standards.