Academic Essay: University On The Move

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Clockwise from top left: Provost Tim Marshall; unveiling the model of The New School University Center at the Harvard Club; the Urban Studies program's greenmapping workshop launch; English language studies professor Barbara Sarapata with students

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As an institution that was founded to challenge established notions of education, The New School continues to redefine the classroom more than 90 years later. Our students address many of the world's most pressing problems, guided by faculty who understand that preparing individuals for a lifetime of change is an essential part of The New School's mission.

In 2011, The New School itself is poised for change. David Van Zandt, the university's eighth president, will lead a transformed institution, one where new academic programs, a growing presence in New York City, and dynamic approaches to teaching and learning nourish innovative thinking.

Tim Marshall

Expanding Understanding

Few universities evolve as rapidly as The New School did during the 2009–2010 academic year. The university's mission—educating students to effect positive change in the world—remains our focus. But the ways in which the institution goes about delivering that education have evolved and expanded, as have the fields of inquiry, the breadth of student and faculty involvement, and the resources provided to support academic innovation and excellence.

Our students have been a key driver of these changes. Just eight years ago, most of our students were enrolled in noncredit courses. Today 77 percent of New School students are pursuing degrees, in 91 fields spanning the range of intellectual exploration and endeavor—from design to public policy, social sciences to the performing arts. Our degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels serve those embarking on an intellectual journey as well as career changers seeking entrée into a new creative or professional path.

True to our core values, we continue to introduce new programs that bring students to the frontier of thinking. This year, we expanded our graduate offerings with new MFA in Fashion Design and Society and Transdisciplinary Design programs and an MA in Fashion Studies. Drawing on our existing strengths, we also developed interdisciplinary programs in environmental studies, global studies, urban design, and urban studies to prepare undergraduate students to address global challenges.

Expanding and Supporting Faculty

A university that aims to redefine the role of higher education must have an excellent and well-supported faculty. The New School has progressively increased resources to expand the size, scope, and depth of our full-time faculty.

Several ongoing projects have significantly enhanced the faculty experience at The New School. This year, the university strengthened support for faculty research and made funding available to further pedagogical scholarship across disciplines, enabling instructors in the social sciences, design, public policy, and other fields to collaborate in areas of shared interest. In summer 2010, more than a dozen faculty members took part in an “applied think tank” whose research explorations advanced curricular initiatives. The university also held a series of drop-in/online workshops in which faculty discussed areas and ways in which faculty collaboration could grow.

In addition, the university revised its Faculty Handbook to guide faculty as they take on expanded roles in academic planning and governance. We also significantly strengthened review practices, established a faculty development program, and created a faculty ombuds function.

Creating Community

The New School has always made the most of its location in Greenwich Village. Most university facilities are steps away from the campus core, fostering a sense of connection and community. Nonetheless, space is a precious resource and university leadership has made it a priority to expand and improve academic and student-centered facilities.

In May 2010, the university revealed plans for the University Center, the largest construction project in New School history. This 16-story building will house 200,000 square feet of expanded classroom space, a library, new faculty and student resource areas, social and collaborative spaces, and a state-of-the-art auditorium.  Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street, the University Center will also hold a nine-story, 600-bed student residence atop the seven floors designated for academic use.

As an institution that was founded to challenge established notions of education, The New School continues to redefine the classroom more than 90 years later.

-Tim Marshall

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