About David E. Van Zandt

David E. Van Zandt is the eighth president of The New School, a legendary progressive higher education institution inspiring undergraduates, graduate students, and others to catalyze change in an inconstant world. Since arriving at The New School in January 2011, he has worked to bring the different colleges of The New School together in order to take advantage of their complementary strengths.

President Van Zandt is a sociologist, attorney, and visionary in higher education with a record of distinguished academic leadership spanning three decades. Before leading The New School, he served as dean of the Northwestern University School of Law from 1995 until 2010. Under his leadership, Northwestern Law transformed its approach to admissions, education, and social engagement. Through continual analysis of the legal profession, he led major efforts to change the school’s admissions and academic programs to prepare students for the new demands of the global marketplace. This included the creation of the country’s only fully integrated three-year JD/MBA program and the nation’s most distinguished two-year accelerated JD program. The faculty grew by nearly 40 percent during his time as dean, and it currently includes a number of widely recognized clinical and practitioner faculty. More than half of Northwestern Law's research-intensive faculty holds PhDs in related fields, the highest percentage of any U.S. law school.

President Van Zandt, who received his PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics, continues to lecture and contribute to professional and scholarly journals. He is a past president of the American Law Deans Association and has published articles and written and presented papers on the regulation of financial markets, the sociology of religion and deviance, social theory (in particular the microsociological aspects of law), and the economics of common sense. His more recent publications have been on legal education. An expert in corporate law, international finance, and legal education, President Van Zandt has taught courses in International Financial Markets, Business Associations, Property, Practical Issues in Business Law, and Legal Realism. He recently became a trustee of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU). 

Before joining the Northwestern faculty, David E. Van Zandt was an associate with Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, specializing in international banking and finance. He graduated with an AB from Princeton University in 1975, received his JD from Yale Law School in 1981, and clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (now on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit), and Justice Harry A. Blackmun, United States Supreme Court.

He is married to Professor Lisa Huestis, Associate Professor of Legal Studies at The New School, and has two children, Caroline and Nicholas.

Connect with the New School