New School News

President McBride delivering his investiture address
President McBride delivering his investiture address

The New School Celebrates the Investiture of President Dwight A. McBride, PhD

Dr. Dwight A. McBride did not experience the typical journey that a new university President embarks upon when he joined The New School in April, 2020. New York City—his new home—had recently entered lockdown because of COVID-19, and the university had pivoted to remote instruction. This meant that his introduction as President to students, faculty, and staff, and even Trustees, took place virtually.

More than 18 months later, the university formally welcomed President McBride as the ninth president of The New School in an historic and long overdue investiture ceremony and four-day series of mostly-virtual events. The programming kicked off with  a panel discussion on the future of higher education moderated by Dr. Renée T. White, The New School’s recently appointed Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and featuring presidents from four colleges and universities. Other events included an Alumni Day, a Supporter Summit and Family Day.

Linda E. Rappaport, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The New School, presided over the Investiture ceremony on Thursday, October 7. The Bergamot String Quartet, currently in residence at Mannes School of Music, provided the processional and recessional music, and students from the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music performed during the ceremony.

Provost White introduced the line-up of speakers, which included Noor Lima Boudakian, a Eugene Lang student and Chair of the University Student Senate, Carly-Ann Fergus, MA Fashion Studies ‘16 and Chair of the Alumni Council, and Darrick Hamilton, the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy. Jonathan Holloway, President of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a longtime friend of President McBride’s, gave the keynote address.

“To the entire New School community, you have someone at your helm who is trusted throughout the higher education landscape, who has built friendships across all types of institutions, who has gifted others with his mentorship, and who can send that late-night text to dozens of people and they will come running,” shared President Holloway. “I believe that this is only to the good of the institution as it enters a new century of excellence, ambition, and fierce independence. Dwight is a bold thinker and he has a small army of people ready to support him, and therefore The New School, at any hour.”

“I marvel at the organizers who have mounted this hybrid Investiture event in such a safe and thoughtful way for these unusual times,” said President McBride during his Investiture address. “I am astonished not only at the role technology is playing in allowing today’s event to be accessed across the globe, but also how technology over this past year-and-a-half has kept much of the world and our institutions running and connected in ways we could scarcely have imagined even a decade ago.”

President McBride, who is the first Black President of The New School, shared quotes from a variety of writers and thinkers throughout his address, including words by Howard Thurman, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, and James Baldwin. He also emphasized how supportive his friends, family, and colleagues have been in helping him succeed in his career as a scholar and academic leader. 

“As a first-generation college student, I have personally experienced the transformative power that higher education can have on a life—the profound intellectual and self-discovery that can happen when professors and students come together in a focused pursuit of truth, knowledge, meaning, and making,” he shared. “I found my life’s calling in the academy, and have advocated for access, inclusion, innovation, and excellence throughout my career. I look forward to advancing that work at The New School.”

President McBride’s address also looked to the future of the university and shared his vision of a “Framework for Fearless Progress,” citing that he chose the phrase “fearless progress” because “it not only references our legacy of questioning the status quo, but it is simultaneously a statement of who we strive to be today—a place that always embraces the possibility of the new.”

He went on to describe the four pillars of that Framework:

  1. The New School will be known and recognized as a preeminent leader for access, equity, inclusion, and social justice in higher education.
  2. The New School will be known for our culture of support and service to our students through intentional focus on building a strong sense of academic community.
  3. The New School will become an ever more visible and engaged leader in the rich civic and cultural life of New York City and beyond.
  4. The New School will be a more integrated university, both academically and operationally, in order to rise to meet its highest ambitions for the future.

Ending his address on an optimistic note, President McBride asked The New School community to work together in order to achieve the university’s full potential, and embrace the change that is a constant of life at The New School.

“Throughout our storied past, the one constant has been that change and growth have steered this place of fearless progress, alongside a deep regard for our values,” he said. “We stand in that legacy; and today we take up the mantle to do our part, here in our time, to write our chapter in the marvelous history of The New School.”

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