Welcome to the Start of the Academic Year
A special welcome goes out to the more than 3,600 new students from all 50 states and 75 countries who are joining The New School for the first time. We are glad you are here! I enjoyed speaking with many of you during residence hall move-in and orientation week and look forward to celebrating the new semester with you at this Thursday’s Block Party on 13th Street between University Place and Fifth Avenue from 4:30 – 7:30pm. I am confident you will find friendship, support and inspiration among the amazing people who choose to be part of The New School.
We start the new year with some important updates:
- A reopened 2 West 13th Street. Those of you who were here in the spring will recall the electrical fire that caused extensive damage and required us to close the building for the remainder of the semester. Enormous thanks go out to everyone, especially those at Parsons, in our Registrar’s office, and on the Buildings team, who worked so hard over these past months to reopen the building. And thank you to all of you who patiently made adjustments to your schedules and work because of the closing. The creativity and resilience of our community in the face of this challenge was inspiring.
- University Center Cafeteria and food security. Services are fully up and running at the University Center Cafeteria. We are pleased to introduce our new head chef, Anne Moriarta, who has been promoted from within the Chartwells team, and to welcome back all of the cafeteria workers. As part of our continuing efforts to improve food service operations, the Cafeteria will feature a range of new and diverse sustainably sourced menu options. Please also look for information in the coming days about a new committee that will initiate an ongoing, campus-wide discussion on food security, access, and sustainability.
- Continued progress in our negotiations with SENS-UAW, the union representing some 850 academic student workers at The New School. Throughout the summer, we shared updates on our progress in these important discussions and will continue to do so through community messages and on the university’s website. We remain committed to fairness to our academic student workers, equity among all our employee groups in wages and benefits, and most importantly, the quality of education to all of our students.
The New School has a storied history of addressing pressing social issues both inside and outside of the classroom. This moment in our country makes that work all the more critical, and it will continue to be a university focus this year. One of the greatest strengths of our community is its diversity of backgrounds, including race, nationality, religious and spiritual beliefs, political orientations, and personal identities including gender and sexuality. We are dedicated to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive campus and to advancing social justice and equity at the university. Beginning in 2015, the Provost’s Office began offering workshops for faculty that includes teaching and learning in diverse classrooms. More recently, we undertook a review of our Title IX policies and created two important positions within our Human Resources department that will advance equal employment opportunities and address violations of our policies on discrimination, bullying and other prohibited behavior. We have also been working with students of color on a safe space for relationship building in the University Center. There is still more to do, and we are committed to working together as a community.
We recognize the need to better understand the experiences and concerns of our students, faculty and staff. To that end, we are working to develop a process that engages the university community in an ongoing discussion about strengthening equity and inclusion. This process will also help us examine ways to deepen social justice curricula and continue to improve our pedagogy on race, gender, gender identity, immigration and other critical and intersectional issues.
As a preeminent center for intellectual discussion, creative expression, and social engagement, our university has also had frank conversations and worked to address issues around immigration policies, climate change, gun violence, sexual harassment, and economic and social inequities. We do this through design, policy, art or media, and activism. I look forward to seeing the remarkable projects, research and other initiatives that our faculty, students, and staff will produce this semester.
As we approach our Centennial in 2019, the university itself will be the focus of a major project this year. The Provost will be initiating a community-wide process to look over the horizon and consider the disruptions to and opportunities for higher education, as well as generate ideas about our future as a university that continues to embrace change. Watch for more about this project and how you can participate.
Thank you for being part of this extraordinary community and for the contributions you make to it. I encourage everyone to seek out and take advantage of the university’s resources and services that can support you in your work and make your experience here smoother and more enjoyable. Take good care of yourself and each other.