You have to keep moving,, says Stefania de Kenessey, interim dean of Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. This is not the kind of place where you can sit still., After more than two decades at Lang, de Kenessey is accustomed to, and refreshed by, this constant reinvention. Lang is less static, more vibrant than most liberal arts colleges,, she explains. I’ve taught courses with the same name twice, but I’ve never taught the same course twice.,
Well regarded among colleagues and students, de Kenessey was natural choice for dean. Trained as a classical composer (she holds a PhD in composition from Princeton University), she joined the full-time faculty in the 1980s to focus on growing the arts curriculum. Eventually she took the position of director of The Arts, an interdisciplinary program that integrates theoretical and practical training in dance, music, theater, and the visual arts.
What many don’t know about de Kenessey is that her first stint at Lang was actually years earlier, in its Freshman Year Program. An inquisitive 15-year old, she wasn’t being challenged at her local high school and began researching options for a more fulfilling education. My father saw an ad in the newspaper that said ‘Are you bored with high school?’ And I was., She left early to do a year of liberal arts undergraduate courses at what years later would grow into Eugene Lang College.
Her early departure makes her a PhD-holding high-school dropout, a paradox that seems to suit both her and Lang. Lang students and faculty are fairly entrepreneurial and self-directed,, de Kenessey says. They come here to learn how to do what we have always done best: value the past and create the future.,