Newspaper headlines have seldom been as attentive to higher education as they are right now. Questions they raise are debated every day at The New School: What is the value of a college education? What should students learn? Do the old academic models still work? In this environment, students are understandably anxious about the steep cost of tuition and concerned about financing and careers. We need to understand their goals and hold ourselves accountable for the relevance of their education.
That is why The New School is broadening its curricula to reflect this new landscape. Determined never to be complacent, The New School is not a traditional university and should never aspire to be one. We are rooted in two core principles that position us to make a unique contribution to the ongoing evolution of higher education. The first is a focus on creativity and innovation, being on the "cutting edge." The second is a commitment to public engagement – both within and outside of the classroom. Almost every program at The New School reflects these two principles.
Universities must constantly evolve so students can thrive in the changing marketplace of ideas and career opportunities. New School strengths in design and social science—and our ability to place design in social and cultural contexts—gives us a particular advantage in preparing leaders for the emerging creative economy. New degree and certificate programs, such as master’s programs in urban ecologies, sustainability, and strategic design and management, will enable our graduates to develop solutions to the urgent problems of our time.
As The New School continues its transformation, we are taking steps to ensure a strong financial position and enhance program quality. Despite challenges posed by the economy, we are moving away from an aggressive growth model and making careful decisions about the revenue implications of steady enrollment. In order to keep tuition increases as low as possible, we have located efficiencies in administration, which help limit cuts to academic and student services.
When I came to The New School last year, I was immediately struck by the social, political, cultural, and intellectual engagement I observed across the entire campus. I was even more impressed by our community’s passion for the school itself. This enthusiasm bodes well for our future. I offer my profound thanks to the students, faculty, staff, and members of our extended community, who enable us not only to respond to change but to create and lead it.
David E. Van Zandt
The New School