Auld Lang Syne: Lang Celebrates 25 Years

Faces of the Eugene Lang College community in its inaugural year, including current dean Stefania de Kenessey.

The year was 1985. The hair was big, the economy was booming, and Stefania de Kenessey was a bright-eyed composition teacher at a brand new school in Greenwich Village designed to foster critical thinking and political responsibility through small seminar classes: Eugene Lang College. These were primordial times,, said de Kenessey, who currently serves as Dean at the college, when laptops existed only in the minds of sci-fi aficionados.,

The 2010’2011 academic year marks Lang’s first quarter-century. Since its founding, Lang has represented a haven for, in de Kenessey’s words, young people seeking the excitement, the passion, and the hard work of a genuinely intellectual life., Although this year marks the college’s first quarter century as Lang, its unconventional approach was developed years earlier as the Freshman Year Program, intended to challenge precocious New York City teenagers who were bored by high school and wanted to jump headfirst into college life. In celebration of 25 years of bucking tradition, the Lang community has organized a series of events that showcase the breadth of its talents, and its eccentricities.

The groundswell of Lang-like idiosyncrasy begins soon. On April 6, Lang students and alumni will show off their steampunk side with a performance of White Devil, a reimagining of John Webster’s 1612 revenge tragedy, as part of the university’s Noir festival. WNSR, the Lang college radio station, will dedicate all of its programming on April 18 to interviews with influential alumni, faculty, and students from throughout the college’s history. Listen at www.newschoolradio.org. Rare photos of Lang’s storied past and other pieces from the university’s archives will be on view in Transformation/Evolution, which opens April 20 in the Skybridge Gallery. A multimedia installation mixing archival material with student and alumni work, Transformation/Evolution will trace and explore the history of the college.

Lang’s Silver Jubilee celebration culminates on April 29’30 with the Alumni Reunion, a weekend-long festival of student and alumni conferences, installations, and receptions. Education activist Herb Kohl will deliver the keynote address and moderate a panel discussion with Lang alumni currently working in higher education with Lang and Liberal Arts in the 21st Century (April 29). The fleet of wooden rowing vessels built over the years by students in the course Lang on the Hudson will be installed in the Vera List Courtyard for The Boats that Lang Built (April 29). And alumni Melissa Febos ’02 and Emily Skillings ’10 present a mix of multimedia work in the alumni showcase Lang Works (April 29).

Lang has certainly evolved since I showed up for my interview in a bell-bottom three-piece suit,, de Kenessey said with a laugh. But the spirit of learned rebellion that brought me here has never been more alive.,

To keep up with all the festivities, join Lang @ 25 on Facebook.