Thursday, September 8, 2005
It is an honor and pleasure to be able to welcome all you to join or rejoin the University as we begin the new academic year. We have much to celebrate and much to anticipate. The faculty and the students are the heart of any great University. I believe we are stronger than ever both in the number and quality of both these vital elements.
Let me review some of the highlights of the past year, several of which began as initiatives in the prior academic year.
- Since January 2004, we have hired close to 100 new full time faculty.
- Approximately 10% of these new hires are joint appointments shared between two divisions. In addition, we have upgraded a number of half-time positions to full-time and are working closely with the deans and the President to create an additional 100-150 full-time faculty lines to be filled over the next few years.
- We have developed and implemented the universitys first joint appointment policy.
- We have also instituted academic rank and title for all full and half-time faculty across the university. Extending academic rank across the University will foster citizenship, promote collaboration between schools, and raise the status of our full-time faculty both within and outside the institution.
- The newly formed Faculty Senatewhich is open to both full and part-time facultymeet on a regular basis and has already become part of the fabric of the University. Its presence promises to help faculty to participate more fully in University shared governance.
- One of the Senates major contributions last year was to name a faculty working group to work over the summer on a major revision of the full-time Faculty Handbook a draft of which will be submitted this fall to the full Senate, the deans, and the Officers for their review and comment. The last comprehensive Faculty Handbook dates from 1995. The University has changed and grown enormously in the last decade and the new comprehensive handbook will serve to clarify policies and procedures that govern our full-time faculty.
- Part-time faculty are a vital part of the educational enterprise of our University. They are hired specifically for their work as teachers, and they bring a great deal of skill and experience into their work with students. Their wide range of professional and life experiences makes a valuable contribution to the classroom environment.
- In October of 2004 we began negotiating our first contract with ACT-UAW, the union which now represents most of our part-time faculty. Negotiations are going well and I am glad to say that both sides continue to bargain in good faith.
This brief review of recent accomplishments is part of a larger development that was forecast and mandated by the Trustees and President Kerrey when he began his first term as President of the University. That mission was to make The New School truly a university, to increase the interaction between its parts, to publicize our shared identity and to share resources, students and faculty across all our programs and schools.
The task of achieving academic distinction while remaining uniquely New is not an easy one. It involves difficult choices. It involves risks. It involves trade-offs. It involves shaping our wishes into priorities. Some universities are sufficiently wealthy or well-established to act as if they do not need to make any trade-offs. They are wrong. But The New School must be constantly aware of the risks we MUST take as well as the risks which we need to avoid. Some of these risks are fiscal, some are organizational, some are about governance. We are in the midst of changes in every one of these areas. But at the very heart of the risks that our tradition empowers us to take is the choice about the ideas we most value, the academic directions we ought to pursue and the programs we are best positioned to develop. With the counsel and hard work of the President, the faculty, the Deans, the Trustees and many of our colleagues in the administration, we now have a map for our academic aspirations in the coming decade, the first decade of the twenty-first century.
The Academic Map
This map is a work-in-progress and we will continue to discuss, debate and refine it, but here are its most important elements. These elements will drive our academic priorities, help us choose among our risks, and help us determine the standards and measures against which we will measure ourselves.
- We aim to be provide the best urban liberal arts undergraduate education in New York City, and thus to compete with the best undergraduate institutions of our size in the country.
- We aim to continue our tradition of being the most New York of New Yorks educational institutions by building programs that capture the energies, the values, the opportunities and the resources of this great global city.
- We intend to bring the arts and design into a new dialogue with the social and policy sciences, by creating a General Education curriculum around what we are now calling the three Ds, Design, Democracy and Development. This effort, which has the enthusiastic participation of several Deans, will make our undergraduate education a model for many American universities, since it will take the current world and its challenges as the point of departure for general education, thus requiring us to develop new understandings of what design, the humanities and the social sciences really ought to be in this century.
- We recognize that we have some of the best graduate research capacities of any major University. While we are committed to making this a great undergraduate institution, we are equally committed to developing and maintaining our best doctoral programs, so that we continue to lead the way in setting the path, in finding the true North, in the fundamental debates and discoveries of the emerging world.
- We want to make the University a truly international institution. This will mean strengthening our overseas recruitment and encouraging the inflow of scholars and teachers from overseas (one of the great features of the University in Exile). Above all, we must internationalize our curriculum by making the best use of new ways of mapping, storing, sharing and communicating historical and geographical information. We have begun to do this in the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping and in other venues but we need to push this effort systematically in order to become the most globally oriented University in this, the worlds most global city.
- We are also committed to finding ways to address the hard fact that we cannot claim to prepare our students to be leaders in their professions, in their communities and in their societies with our current glaring weakness in the sciences, especially the life sciences. We are aware that it is neither advisable nor feasible to try to be a full-service science-oriented University. But we are also certain that our undergraduates must acquire real literacy in regard to biology, geography, the information sciences and the basic tools of quantitative and statistical analysis. To move us into these areas, we are about to embark on an ambitious endeavor organized around Environmental Studies, which will be our pathway into bringing serious scientific capabilities into our curriculum.
- We are about to bring to the entire New School community a draft plan for strengthening and revitalizing our On-Line Programs. We are convinced that this effort will allow us to do once again what we always did uniquely, which is to serve non-traditional populations, both near and far. Our reputation as a University has always been associated with offering education to those who are already educated. On-Line education will be a major tool for restoring this important side of our traditions.
- Finally, we are beginning this Fall to put into a place a systematic review process which will be applied to every school and program in the University over the next three years. Beginning with Milano and The New School for General Studies but soon to move to other programs, this review will have both internal and external components and will be designed to generate honest assessments of our strengths and our weaknesses, so that we can begin to plan our future from a systematic and objective base-line. This effort will go hand in hand with a strengthened office of Institutional Research, which will make our place in the wider educational world in this country and the world more visible, more measurable and more susceptible to planning.
These are ambitious aims and they will take a concerted effort to dream, plan, measure, choose and act. But they will also require significant new resources. First among these is our need to expand our space, both in quality and extent. I am absolutely convinced that none of the aims and aspirations I have described can be achieved without a rapid transformation of our physical facilities. A signature building on 65 Fifth Avenue is a dream we must make real. And it is the centerpiece of our need to grow our academic spaces, our convening spaces, our residential spaces and our student spaces. Minus these resources, we will continue to look enviously at our neighbors, near and far. I hope the day will come when our campus will be fully commensurate with our ambitious academic plans. This will require us all to join actively in the effort to wed our academic and our capital plans. Without ideas, space means nothing. But without superb space, academic dreams will remain fantasies.
I want to conclude these remarks by reminding us that a great faculty is the core of any great University. We have a superb faculty and we are committed to expanding its numbers and deepening its quality. The new faculty who join us this Fall exemplify the standards to which we aspire and I extend a special welcome to them today.