A Welcome Message from New School President David E. Van Zandt

January 24, 2011

Welcome back to The New School. I hope you had an enjoyable winter break.

Like all newcomers to this remarkable institution, my wife Lisa and I are thrilled to be joining such a dynamic community. I am proud to be The New School’s eighth president and to lead a university with nearly 100 years of progressive leadership in higher education and civic life. This community’s energy and commitment to our university, to New York City, and to the world around us are truly inspiring.

Throughout its history, The New School has evolved to be relevant—continually promoting ideas that reflect a changing world. As an institution keen on devising and designing solutions, The New School is a place where change informs everything—from curricula to conversations, and from faculty research to student activities. This spirit of innovation is what drew many of you here—and it is what I find so compelling as well.

One of the many reasons I feel such affinity with The New School is its founding principle that higher education not become overly conventional and institutionalized. New School educators know how to adapt to meet new conditions while maintaining a connection to trusted current practices. While most colleges and universities compete to be the best of the conventional, The New School charts its own course.

In many ways, this is The New School’s moment.

By leveraging our strengths, we will address the most urgent questions facing higher education in the United States today:

  • What kind of undergraduate study best prepares students for the challenges of the future?
  • What qualities do graduate students need to become leaders?
  • And, how can higher education, with its many constituencies and competing demands, bring about positive change in the world?

I ask you to join me in finding the answers.

By swimming against the tide of educational convention, The New School can take its place as the progressive institution of higher learning.

We begin from a strong base. In all areas—art and design studies, social sciences, liberal arts, management and policy, and performing arts—this community is exceptionally gifted. In particular, I would like to recognize the excellence and dedication of our faculty.

As you know, The New School is experiencing unparalleled expansion in enrollment, new programs, and facilities. We are emerging from a challenging economy in good financial health. And everyone who works, studies, and volunteers time and resources at The New School deserves credit for this success.

Much of that success is due to the leadership and vision of President Bob Kerrey over the past ten years. I thank him for his efforts and for the guidance he has offered me as I make my transition. And I am pleased to inform you that The New School has designated Bob as President Emeritus in recognition of his service and dedication.

My mandate as president is to help forge an academic and learning community in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For this goal to be achieved, faculty, students, and staff must work in concert.

In my first weeks, I plan to develop an understanding of the dynamics of the university and hear first-hand about the issues you face by meeting a broad cross-section of the community in classrooms, faculty offices, and public spaces.

From these encounters I hope a collaborative process will emerge through which we can work together to take The New School to an even higher level of excellence.

I thank all of you who have welcomed Lisa and me and look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming months. In the meantime, I wish you the best for the spring semester.

Thank you.

DVZ Signature

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