Messages to the Community

A Message from Interim Provost Browner

Dear New School Students,

I write to you today in my new role as Interim Provost of The New School. Many of you may know me from my previous role as Dean of Lang, which I had the honor of leading for nine years.

With the Fall semester nearing its midpoint, I hope your courses are going well. The move to online learning precipitated by the pandemic was new to all of us, but in these difficult times, I hope you are finding respite and inspiration in your studies.  

As you know, the pandemic’s impact on finances—for families, communities, and institutions—has been profound. The New School began taking steps last spring in recognition of this. We rolled back the planned tuition increase for 2020-2021 and increased financial aid. We also moved quickly to reduce our own budget, making salary cuts and instituting a hiring freeze. This month, after detailed evaluation of work across the university, we identified 122 staff positions (not faculty) to eliminate. This is about 13% of the total staff. We have sought to do this with care and compassion, including enhanced exit benefits for all those laid off. More details about these benefits can be found here.  

These have been difficult steps. Throughout, the focus has remained on students, and the faculty and staff remain committed to you and your education. Your schools and programs, and other university offices, including Student Success, will send you updated contact information as that is needed, and they will be in touch as usual throughout the rest of the semester.  

What continues to inspire me is the rigorous critical thought, creativity, and passion evident everywhere in our community. True to who we are, we are reckoning with the issues before us: faculty and students are collaborating on cutting-edge research about COVID-19 transmission; programs are hosting virtual seminars on topics such as the politics of care, anti-Black racism, and the meaning of art in this moment. Performance and making continue in both new and traditional arenas, and profound examination of fundamental ideas and tough questions is happening every day in our classrooms.

These are hard times for everyone. Some have lost loved ones, time with families and friends has been upended, education has been disrupted, gatherings that sustain us are cancelled, and plans for so many things that are important have been postponed or permanently lost. And the consequences have been far more severe in communities of color, communities that have long borne the economic and health consequences of an unequal and systemically racist society. In this context, The New School’s commitments to honoring the fundamental human passion for learning and to a deep engagement with social justice thinking and practice are more important than ever.

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