Update on the 2020-2021 Academic Year
Dear Members of The New School Community,
We write to you today amid an extraordinary moment in the life of our nation, the city in which we are based, and, indeed, communities across the globe. As we all continue to confront the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and vital and persistent issues of racial injustice, we are reminded again of the incredible opportunities that The New School community has to make our world better, safer, and more equitable.
The New School was built for moments like this. We are eager and highly motivated to return to face-to-face interaction and instruction as soon as we can, and we are pleased to tell you that there is extensive progress being made in planning a safe return to campus and an exceptional new academic year.
The Fall Semester Will Begin in August
First and foremost, we know for sure that Fall semester classes at The New School will begin, as scheduled, on Monday, August 31. This semester will certainly look different, and we know that some students – particularly those from international locations – may be unable to travel to New York City. As a result, our Provost, Deans, and faculty are finalizing plans to ensure a rigorous, relevant, and uniquely New School experience for every one of our students, regardless of where they are or what in-person access we have to our campus. This work is rooted in three guiding principles:
- Protecting the health and safety of the entire New School community – students, faculty and staff – and the neighbors with whom we interact;
- Maintaining the highest quality teaching, learning, research, and artistic expression across every college, department, and specialty; and
- Ensuring equitable access to classes and other learning activities for every student.
We Will Have Flexible Options for Every Student
Whether classes will ultimately be in-person, online, or, a combination of both, we will be ready with multiple options to ensure that all students – including those who are unable to be on campus for any reason – can participate in each class as well as the rich academic and community life of the university.
Our faculty members – across every college and department – are developing and adapting curricula to meet the current moment and to provide a range of opportunities to take learning beyond the traditional classroom environment regardless of when, where, or how that learning will take place. We will also have an expansive schedule of events and other interactions across the academic year – from discussions and performances to office hours and advising – that will keep students tightly connected with each other, with the university, with New School alumni, and with our extraordinary and globally renowned New York faculty who are some of the world’s preeminent academic, cultural, artistic, and design leaders. Our faculty are always innovating and for them it comes naturally to forge new pathways in teaching and learning, about which we encourage you to discover more here.
We also want to acknowledge the financial challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for many of our students and their families. To help address these concerns, the university will be significantly increasing our investment in financial aid for existing and newly admitted undergraduate and graduate students for the coming year to help ensure that a New School education remains accessible and available.
New York City Begins Phase One of Reopening Process This Week
This week, New York City hit an important milestone as it officially began the first phase of a mandatory four phase reopening process after meeting the state’s seven required metrics. While other parts of New York State began reopening several weeks ago, New York City was the last area to receive clearance. Educational institutions are covered in phase four of the state’s plan.
By the end of June, all colleges and universities in the state of New York expect to receive mandatory guidelines from Governor Andrew Cuomo detailing specifically how and in what capacity institutions of higher education can reopen their campuses for in-person teaching, learning, and community activities. Each academic institution in New York must conform to these guidelines in order to open for in-person instruction.
It is our sincere hope that we will be able to begin the Fall semester on campus in person. However, should that not be possible for some or all students, we are confident in the plans in place to deliver an exciting, exceptional, and accessible academic experience for every one of our students. Assuming that the state’s guidelines for higher education are delivered this month as expected, we anticipate sharing more details about the use of campus spaces and plans for the new academic year around July 1. While deposits for newly admitted students are due on June 15, we will return deposits for those who ultimately decide to take another path.
We appreciate that there are colleges and universities across the United States – and some close to us in New York State – that are promising or strongly suggesting that their campuses will be fully open for the new semester. This has led some of you to ask, why not The New School? The answer is that we do not believe it would be right for us to make such a promise without first knowing that we can reasonably protect the health and safety of everyone who chooses to learn and work here and what Governor Cuomo will require of the state’s institutions of higher education. While the extraordinary location of our campus – in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant international cities – sets The New School apart, the vertical, densely populated, and public transit-dependent nature of New York City adds complexity to this equation, especially when considering our academic spaces and residence halls.
Please be assured that we are planning – and taking all necessary steps – to be fully face-to-face as soon as we believe it is safe to do so, guided by medical and safety experts, public health recommendations, and government guidelines. In whatever format the Fall semester starts, we will be delivering the innovative education and cultural experience you deserve and expect, one that is flexible enough to handle any changes the pandemic causes with as little disruption as possible, and one that all students can participate in no matter where they are.
You Won’t Want to Miss This
In whatever way we gather for the start of the new academic year, The New School will be an extraordinary place to experience this unprecedented moment for our world, our university, and in our lives. When we reflect back on this moment in our history, each of us will have a story of how we navigated through the pandemic and what we learned from these challenging times. The New School is committed to being remembered as the place that not only continued to offer its unique blend of progressive education, but also continued to uphold its core values in ever more innovative ways through this period. We invite you to be a part of that important and historic journey with us.
This is a community of innovators. We thrive in uncertain times that call for new approaches, new ways of thinking, and new solutions. For over 100 years, our institution has catalyzed work that transcends traditional concepts of teaching, learning, and research and that aims to have an impact on real world problems. Today is the time to live these values, to bring the campus and community together in inspiring new ways, and to be a part of this defining moment in our history. We look forward to engaging in this vital experience with you and will continue to keep you updated.
Onward and upward.