Volume 75, Number 19 | Sep. 28 - Oct. 04, 2005

Michael Haberman receives a painting signed by N.Y.U. President John Sexton from Lynne Brown, university senior vice president, acknowledging Haberman’s leading role in the Washington Square Park Arch’s renovation. Behind them is Jim Whelan, former head of the Union Square Business Improvement District.

Some laughs and thanks at N.Y.U. director’s sendoff

Friends and colleagues gathered in the New York University president’s Washington Square West penthouse residence last Thursday for a sendoff for Michael Haberman, who recently departed as university director of government and community relations to become a vice president at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

The event’s highlight was a roast of Haberman in the form of a parody front page of NYU Today, the university’s newssheet. The lead article, which spoofed the controversy over the Washington Square Park redesign, was headlined, “As Parting Gift, Michael Haberman Arranges for Washington Square Park To Be Given to N.Y.U.”

The tongue-in-cheek article stated that Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, in appreciation for Haberman’s efforts, would give the park to the university. “After reading the 168th proposal for the restoration of Washington Square Park and knowing we still wouldn’t be able to secure approval by all interested parties, it was an easy decision. Who needs all the hassle and all the kvetching?” Benepe is “quoted” as saying.

Haberman, the joke story continued, immediately offered some amendments to the current park plan, including that all trees would be cut down.

“The diversion of Minetta Brook, which N.Y.U. eventually intends to run through the atrium of Bobst as a decorative fountain, hasn’t been doing the job of killing the trees quickly enough,” the send-up quotes Haberman as saying. “We need the space for our new 40-story, 700,000-square-foot combined dorm, chemical-waste repository and mega-Starbucks, the first of the magnificent new buildings we will be planning there.”

In addition, the farcical article stated, the proposed fence around the park would be 16 feet tall, the dog runs would be converted into “pet cemeteries” and the Washington Square Arch would be moved in front of Bobst Library to provide a fitting entryway — with “nonlitigant friends of N.Y.U.” allowed to see it if they pay $1,500 per year.

Poking fun at his stint as a reporter at The Villager, the fake newssheet said Haberman had endowed a scholarship for a student to check all the back issues of the newspaper to prove that the biggest words were used during his tenure.

On a more serious — and factual — note, Haberman was applauded for his leading role in spearheading the renovation of the arch — and a painting of the arch, signed by N.Y.U. President John Sexton, was presented to him.

Lynne Brown, a university senior vice president, and Jim Whelan, former head of the Union Square Partnership, praised Haberman’s energy and ability to bring people together.

While his wife, Alison, sat nearby and their 3-year-old son, Max, did some upside-down gymnastics on the rug, Haberman, in his remarks, thanked Brown for “taking a chance on a relatively young” person when she offered him the job. He said he hoped that he’d succeeded in bringing N.Y.U. and the Village community closer together in his few years in the job.

Lincoln Anderson

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