Task Force to Explore New Models for Liberal Arts at The New School
As conveyed in President McBride’s email of August 6, our current and expected drops in enrollment have created serious financial implications for The New School and the likelihood that we will be a smaller university moving forward. As a consequence, the Board of Trustees has asked for budget reduction scenarios to be presented during its September meeting. These scenarios will include all administrative and academic areas of the university.
Within this context, we are considering a longer-term revision of the structure for the colleges that comprise The New School, with a focus on liberal arts. It is a time of great social change and there is a need to elevate the liberal arts and the New School’s teaching and research on climate change, racial equity, democracy, human mobility, and many other pressing social issues. With the full support of President McBride, Provost Marshall has asked the college Deans to engage faculty and staff to consider how the liberal arts, writ large, might be best organized. We are calling this broad assemblage of curricula and programs “Liberal Arts+” to suggest its breadth, signal our desire to define this area imaginatively and openly, and enhance our commitment to an approach that is centered on equity and inclusion and informed by our mission and values.
Questions about the future structure of the colleges require substantial faculty input and ideation, as well as time for deliberation. Drawing on faculty expertise, the aim is to identify vibrant and streamlined college structures that can help us advance our distinction in teaching and research/creative practice at The New School, while also finding ways to share resources and identify additional economies.
At this time, we write to announce that we are convening a Task Force to consider possible approaches to this restructuring. The Task Force will make recommendations to the Provost, who will, in consultation with and the approval of the President, make decisions regarding what our structure will be moving forward. That structure will then be brought before the Board of Trustees for their final approval.
This process is being designed based on the principle that faculty, staff, and deans know the curricula and programs best, and all of our collective and creative energy is necessary to design new structures that will advance our mission. Equity, inclusion, and social justice must be centered throughout – in the design of curriculum; in consideration of the student communities that such curricula will serve; in terms of the implications for faculty and staff working in these areas; and in the potential of proposals to advance our scholarly, creative, and research priorities in these areas.
- The Task Force will include three members (faculty and staff) from each college as well as the college Deans.
- The Task Force will develop specific guidelines for the submission of proposals, which may be submitted by faculty and/or staff through existing groups, new cross-college committees, by individuals, etc., and/or developed by the Task Force itself.
- Each proposal must articulate a vision, provide a detailed overview, and weigh the advantages and areas of concern that each model will inevitably suggest. The proposed models should take account of our diverse approaches to undergraduate and graduate education, interdisciplinarity, the intersection of liberal arts, design, and visual and performing arts, and teaching and learning responsive to student identities and life experience.
- A central goal is to imagine new connections across and among our programs, within the context of the expectation of the new realities of student enrollments and the resulting fiscal situation.
- The Task Force will communicate frequently and hold regular meetings to share where we are in the process and field input and feedback from the whole community.
The Task Force will move quickly and we anticipate the following approximate timeline:
- Task Force membership established: by Friday August 21
- Progress report: September 15
- Final deadline: November 15
We encourage each of you to reach out to your respective Dean with questions and/or comments. We value, in advance, your engagement with this process. We know that everyone is very busy with the start of an extremely unusual semester, but we also recognize that this work is vital to the future of our institution, and that we cannot make these decisions without your participation and input. We look forward to working with you on this important task.