Reflections on the Beginning of the Fall Semester
Already in our second week of the semester, The New School is off to a strong start in spite of these unusually challenging times—and that is thanks to all of you.
To the faculty who have redesigned their courses and curricula for remote instruction and who are reimagining how to deliver a distinctive New School education and advance research and creative practice in new ways, we applaud you. And to those of you who participated in this week’s Scholar Strike for Racial Justice, we support you.
To the staff who are on campus performing essential operations and service, we thank you. Our ability to reopen our campus more fully will depend on what we learn—and what we do right—during these critical early fall months.
To the administrative staff colleagues who have been working remotely for nearly six months now and finding ways to communicate, collaborate, and advance work on all fronts, we appreciate all of your efforts.
There are many aspects of campus life that are dear to us which we are missing. We miss the opportunities for serendipitous and informal conversation. We miss gathering in person for the public programs and the celebrations. We miss the art that is so present across our campus and the buzz of the local coffee shops. Most of all, we miss the continual energy boost of being around our students. Personally, I have had to mourn the activities that would typically mark the start of a university presidency. I had been looking forward to opportunities to meet faculty and staff on every part of the campus, to join you at events and in spaces where you teach, conduct research, create, and present work, and to break bread together and talk about ideas and our future.
Despite our physical separation, we stand together as an academic community bonded by our legacy and values and a prevailing belief in the unique educational promise of The New School. It is that promise that also drives our current planning efforts to address the significant financial impact of the pandemic and to position The New School for future sustainable strength. There is no question that we will need to become a leaner university in many ways. We know there is broad interest in this work and there is an understandable level of stress and anxiety attached to it. We will keep the community informed about the process and resulting decisions. This website will serve as a hub for information, but it will not be a substitute for the ongoing engagement across our community by the members of the President’s Leadership Team, the Deans, the leadership of the staff and the faculty senates, and representatives from the Budget Advisory Council that is part of our commitment to you in this important work.
The transition of the Provost will add a new dimension of change this year. We are fortunate to have the benefit of Tim Marshall’s many years of leadership and a strong interim Provost, Stephanie Browner, prepared to step in immediately. Soon we will launch a full search process, guided by a diverse search advisory committee and with the support of an executive search firm, to help identify candidates for The New School’s next Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. I will keep you informed about our progress.
In my messages to students during orientation and on the first day of classes, I assured them that all of us—faculty and staff across our university—are here to support their educational experience and their ultimate success. I take very seriously my responsibility to lead this institution in this time, and for this time. As I look toward the horizon, I wish I could see the future more clearly and provide the sense of certainty and assurance we all long for in these challenging times. I cannot. What I can share with you is a sense of optimism and hope. I can tell you how much I have learned and how much I have come to love and appreciate, in a very short period of time, what is special about our university community. I can urge you to remain strong and adaptable as we do the work that we must to protect the 100-year legacy of The New School, while securing its next 100-year future. And I hope that I can continually reflect the spirit of advancement and progress that is signaled in my signature closing,
Onward and upward!