It is with great sadness that The New School community announces the passing of Henry H. Arnhold, trustee since 1985, who died at home on August 23 at age 96. Although Mr. Arnhold came to prominence as chairman of his family’s banking and investment company, we will also remember him as a philanthropist, art collector, and friend whose support for The New School stretched back more than 60 years.
Mr. Arnhold’s personal history is profoundly connected to the history of The New School. He was born into a distinguished Jewish banking family in Dresden, Germany, and fled Europe during the rise of Nazism. Mr. Arnhold arrived in the United States in 1942, not long after The New School had established itself as a refuge and haven for Jewish scholars. He joined his dear friend Walter A. Eberstadt (1921–2014) who, like Mr. Arnhold, was born in Germany and fled the country’s anti-Semitism to become one of the New School’s most devoted supporters.
In addition to his vast philanthropic work, significant art collections, and commitment to scholarship and to cooperation between U.S. and German educational and cultural institutions, Mr. Arnhold will long be remembered as a warm, generous, open-minded, and sharp-witted friend and colleague.
“Henry Arnhold was the finest human being I have ever known: liberal, cultured, generous, tough-minded, and fun,” said Bob Kerrey, former president of The New School and U.S. senator from Nebraska who was a close friend of Mr. Arnhold.
Susan Foote, Trustee of The New School and Chair of the Board of Governors of The New School for Social Research, said, “Henry was charming and witty, intelligent, tough, and also exquisitely sensitive. A gentle soul. Henry brightened my life immeasurably.”
Mr. Arnhold played a pivotal role in the development of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. His deep commitment to addressing the plight of refugees around the world inspired him to fund the academic study of migration and the institute’s participation in public policy and debates. He encouraged David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, among other distinguished scholars and philanthropists, to join the advisory board. “Henry was our partner in building a world-class center for the study of the problems of migration and refugees. He wanted students to be provided the knowledge and skills to change the world. He was a bridge-builder and an idealist,” said William Milberg, Dean of The New School for Social Research.
“Henry Arnhold’s intellectual and financial leadership was critical to rebuilding the graduate faculty in the 1980’s,” Jonathan Fanton, former President of The New School, said. “He had a deep commitment to The New School’s historic role in rescuing scholars at risk and defending academic freedom. But he also embraced innovation across the university, including the arts for which he cared deeply. His wise counsel and steadfast courage will be deeply missed. His vision of a more just and peaceful world will continue to inspire us.”
One of Mr. Arnhold’s many significant contributions to The New School was his endowment of the Arnhold Forum, a two-story library and study center in the landmark University Center on Fifth Avenue. Named in honor of the Arnhold family, the Arnhold Forum Library is a busy hub of academic activity and houses state-of-the-art study areas and important multidisciplinary archives. Mr. Arnhold also endowed Arnhold Hall, The New School’s West 13th Street building, in 2003; today it is the proud home of The New School’s College of Performing Arts, comprising Mannes School of Music, the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the School of Drama. Mr. Arnhold also made possible an endowed professorship in the Economics Department and the Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professorship at The New School for Social Research.
Mr. Arnhold was well-known as an avid art collector. Building on a collection started by his parents, Heinrich and Lisa Arnhold, Mr. Arnhold owned more than 500 pieces of 18th-century porcelain made in Meissen, a town near Dresden. The collection is widely considered the best of early Meissen in private hands in the United States. In December 2011, Mr. Arnhold fulfilled a promised gift of 131 pieces of this collection to the Frick, which presented an exhibition of pieces from his collection in 2008.
Reflecting his lifelong commitment to education, Henry Arnhold founded the Friends of Dresden University to support students and scholars. In addition to receiving an honorary degree from The New School for Social Research, he had an honorary senatorship from the Technische Universität Dresden, as did his father and grandfather before him. He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Council on Germany and served on the advisory board of the World Policy Institute. Mr. Arnhold is a recipient of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Arnhold’s family: his son John Arnhold, daughter-in-law Jody Gottfried Arnhold, grandchildren Julia Arnhold and Paul Arnhold, and their respective spouses, Lane Gerson and Parsons Board of Governors member Wes Gordon. Mr. Arnhold was predeceased by his daughter Michele Elizabeth “Shelly” Arnhold, a nationally renowned equestrienne who died in 2007, and his wife Clarisse “Sissy” Arnhold who passed away in 2013.