Messages to the Community

Update on University Planning

A message from Tim Marshall, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stephanie Browner, Interim Provost-Elect, and Tokumbo Shobowale, Executive Vice President for Business and Operations

Dear Faculty and Staff,  

With the academic year successfully underway, we know there is great interest in how The New School is doing and how the important scenario planning work initiated in April is progressing. Together with President McBride, the President’s Leadership Team, and the Deans, we want to be clear about the financial context in which the planning work is taking place and outline the actions that the university will implement in the coming weeks as the next phase of addressing our challenges begins.

First, we want to acknowledge the extraordinary people and teams across the university who worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure that our enrollment was not completely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to their efforts, our results are better than expected at approximately 9,150 new and returning students. However, degree-seeking enrollment for Fall 2020 is still down significantly at 10% compared to the pre-pandemic budget – with new student enrollment down 15%. Additionally, you will recall that we rolled back our planned tuition increase for this year, a significant number of students elected to attend part-time, more than 90% fewer students are in residence halls, and we significantly increased financial aid this year to better meet the needs of the families of students who wanted to return this fall. As a result, we are facing a $130 million revenue shortfall, which we first anticipated back in April of this year. The majority of this shortfall is not temporary, as it will carry through the next few years as the smaller class cohorts progress through their education.

Addressing these issues, as well as the long-term and larger structural and operational challenges confronting higher education has been the driving force behind the work that the university has been pursuing over the summer. The goals are two-fold: respond to the financial and demographic reality we face today and secure a future beyond this crisis in which The New School will thrive.

As a necessary and especially difficult aspect of this work, we must reduce the overall size of the staff, create operational efficiencies, and realign administrative teams to ensure that we can continue to deliver a high level of service. President McBride will present budget reduction measures to the Board of Trustees later this month, which we anticipate will include the permanent elimination of some staff positions. We are preparing for employees whose positions are impacted to be notified on Friday, October 2.

We will make every effort to move forward with respect and compassion, to provide support services for those staff members being separated, and to communicate honestly and transparently. While nothing we can say will alleviate the anxiety and upset that the next few weeks will bring, we are committed to doing what is required of us in a principled and thoughtful way, and with the university’s academic mission and long-term future guiding our decisions.

The President’s Leadership Team and Deans will be holding meetings in their respective colleges and administrative units later this week to discuss the measures the university is taking to address our financial challenges.

Thank you for your continued support.

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