Update on Important University Planning
Dear New School Faculty and Staff Colleagues:
We are writing today to follow up on the message that President McBride sent to The New School community yesterday and to provide some additional information on the important planning process that will take place over the next few months.
First, we want to express our gratitude for the tremendous ingenuity and patience you have shown during this challenging time. Your speed, flexibility, and thoughtfulness in transitioning to online learning, and the tremendous care you have shown for our students and for each other, have been extraordinary. You have set new standards for teaching, creative expression, and research in areas that can be difficult to transform to a virtual setting and, together, have led to a strong finish for a truly unprecedented semester. Thank you on behalf of the entire New School community.
As President McBride noted in his message, the university will be open and operating this fall with a robust and distinctive range of academic offerings and opportunities for research and creative practice. Given the public health and organizational uncertainties with which all colleges and universities are contending, specific plans for in-person or online class formats, instructional methods, and the eventual safe return to campus are still being determined. Our location in a densely populated urban environment makes some of these challenges more acute.
Regardless, we have a university-wide Teaching and Learning task force, aided by direct input from every college and department, which is making tremendous progress on a comprehensive academic plan for the fall semester. We will have details to announce about this plan in the next few weeks.
Details on Scenario Planning
As President McBride wrote, the university will be conducting detailed scenario planning over the next few months to address our immediate pandemic-related challenges. This planning will also be focused on thinking even more boldly about the future of The New School and ensuring that we are preparing the university for continued academic success in an environment that is changing dramatically, especially for institutions of higher education that are dependent on tuition.
To prepare for the near-term headwinds we are likely to face and identify paths to make our university less vulnerable moving forward, our Board of Trustees has asked for a clear set of recommended next steps for their action in September.
To support this planning, President McBride has established three university-wide working groups, which include members from across The New School community. The working groups are:
- COVID-19 Recovery Planning – which is focused on ensuring a safe and effective return to campus;
- Future Tuition Models – which will consider and explore tuition pricing models and options that align with our emerging academic plans; and
- New Business Development – which is focused on identifying new revenue opportunities that support The New School’s mission and values.
This planning will be informed by the work of the Teaching and Learning task force. More information on the working groups can be found here.
Community Engagement Meetings Will Begin in Early June
Your input in this planning is vital. To this end, beginning in early June, we will host a series of virtual discussions. Led by members of the President’s Leadership Team and the university deans, these conversations will invite input from faculty, staff, and students from across the university. We will also be inviting you to submit proposals for The Centennial Project, which will take us forward to the other side of this challenging process. An online survey will provide an additional way to share your feedback and perspectives. The survey link and meeting schedule will be provided soon.
As part of this work, we will also be incorporating insights provided during the many listening sessions held by the Board of Trustees in preparation for the presidential search process that concluded this past fall. In addition, we will use information from our recent climate survey that was led by Senior Vice President for Institutional Strategy for Social Justice Melanie Hart with a university-wide task force, and through which many individuals shared views focused on how we can become a more diverse and inclusive academic community.
While we know that many have activities scheduled for the summer, we hope as many of you as possible will be able to make time to participate in these important conversations and the feedback survey.
All of This Work Will Be Guided by Our Mission and Values
We want to underscore one other point President McBride made in his message to the community yesterday. The fast-moving circumstances we are facing will, unfortunately, not allow for extended investments of time and deliberation that we would normally want. In addition, while your input is critical, this situation will not provide us the time to make decisions and recommendations to our Board of Trustees by committee or consensus.
That is another reason your participation in the collaborative discussions that will move this planning forward is so essential and why we are focused on ensuring that decision-making and future strategic planning will be driven by four consistent guidelines:
- Upholding our mission, values, and commitment to academic excellence – Innovative research and teaching, rigorous academic programs, extraordinary creative expression and cultural engagement, and a deep commitment to social justice must always remain at the core of what we do and who we are.
- Keeping each other safe – Our decisions will be driven by facts, science, and a clear-eyed view of what is necessary to keep our community safe and healthy.
- Acting in the university’s long-term interests – We are stewards of a proud 100-year tradition and must create plans to ensure that this institution continues to thrive for the next 100 years.
- Valuing the insights of The New School community – We depend on the perspectives and insights of faculty, staff, students, and trustees and are committed to open and candid discussions, even on our toughest issues.
Thank you again for everything you are doing to finish the semester strong and to take care of our students and each other. We look forward to your insights and feedback, to answering questions throughout this scenario planning process, and beyond, and to keeping you updated every step of the way.