January 28, 2013
Welcome to the start of the spring semester. It is great to have faculty and students back after the break. I especially want to welcome those just beginning their time here at The New School.
The New School began the year on a remarkably high note. It was a source of great pride to see First Lady Michelle Obama celebrating the inauguration in designs by not one but three Parsons-educated designers: Reed Krakoff, Jenna Lyons, and Jason Wu. In fact, the First Lady has been photographed in designs by nearly two dozen Parsons graduates.
Seeing our graduates’ designs on the world stage reminds me how frequently excellent work appears before a global audience. As we re-imagine The New School as an intellectual and creative center preparing the next generation of leaders, we become more international each year. Last semester we took big steps, opening Parsons Paris, enrolling Lang College’s inaugural class of Global Citizen Year students, and fielding a university-wide presence at UN-Habitat’s sixth World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy.
Back home in New York City, The New School continues to be a center point for dialogues on global social, economic, political, and cultural issues. This semester alone, we will host more than 400 events, including lectures, conferences, film screenings, and performances. Next week, I am eager to hear Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, known as the “blind dissident,” who will give a talk in Tishman Auditorium on Wednesday, February 6. As always, our events are either free or very low-cost. Visit the News and Events page often to see what’s happening around campus – and make the time to attend some of these the programs that add considerably to our educational mission.
As the semester gets underway, I want to update you on some great changes taking place across The New School.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street, one of the most eye-catching buildings in New York City continues to take shape. Our Friday “hard hat tours” have been so popular they are already booked for weeks ahead. Every day we see impressive progress. Just recently, we announced a commission by renowned American artist Glenn Ligon, a site-specific, 400-foot neon installation for the Event Café.
We continue to look for ways to improve your experience by updating our systems, making processes easier and more efficient, and being responsive to concerns and suggestions. Here are just a few highlights of recent progress:
- By now, you have explored the redesigned Newschool.edu, our dynamic, colorful, and mobile-friendly homepage. This is the first step in a greater project to make the website fresher and easier to use. Be sure to explore The New School for Public Engagement’s redesign, which launched over the winter break. The website is always work in progress, and we encourage your feedback.
- As part of a larger effort to improve MyNewSchool and streamline
communications to students, we are rolling out a new service where academic and administrative announcements specific to a student's school and degree program can now be posted in MyNewSchool, making it truly a central information hub for the university.
- Your NewCard ID can now be used as a debit card at a variety of vendors off-campus, including 5 Napkin Burger on East 14th Street and French Roast on West 11th Street. For a full list of participating merchants and other details, check out the NewCard website.
- Employees responded positively to the new online benefits enrollment process introduced in November. It is faster, easier, and less paper intensive. Kudos to our staff in Human Resources for making this improvement.
- The Theresa Lang Community and Student Center is getting an upgrade to its audio and visual system—with a new, digital Hi-Def video and audio system with recording and streaming capabilities. Next up: new projection screens and lighting upgrades.
Campus Climate Assessment
As part of our ongoing commitment to becoming a more inclusive, equitable, and socially just community, we are beginning a campus climate assessment, gathering a range of data to illuminate perspectives on our culture and things we can do to make all members of this community feel welcome, safe, and supported. Read more on the Social Justice blog or write to Sydney Kopp-Richardson to find out more about how you can be involved.
Another new arrival on campus: The New School Narwhal was chosen as our intramural team mascot by student vote. To play as a Narwhal, or to support the teams, visit the Recreation and Intramural Sports homepage. Here you will find information about events including the fourth annual New School Olympics, as well as group fitness classes, outdoor adventure trips, intramural sports, club sports, and more.
I also look forward to joining students at our annual Winter Warm-Up and Activities Fair at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center on January 31 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Middle States Review
As we move through the important Middle States re-accreditation process, outlines for most of our Self-Study chapters are close to complete thanks to the hard work of many individuals on the Working Groups. The chapter outlines will be posted online next month for community feedback. Please visit the Middle States site to learn more.
For those beginning their final semester, congratulations! New School commencement will be held on Friday, May 24, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, with divisional ceremonies on and around campus during that week. For details, go to the Commencement website.
A Parting Thanks for NSSR Dean
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Dean Michael Schober as he begins his final semester as dean of The New School for Social Research. Michael has done a superb job overseeing NSSR for the past seven years—enhancing the profile of social research across the university, forging connections across programs and disciplines, and supporting an excellent faculty and student body. After a well-deserved sabbatical, Michael will resume a teaching and research role as Professor of Psychology. An internal search is underway and we expect to announce the next dean of NSSR later this spring.
I wish you a happy, healthy and productive semester ahead, and I look forward to seeing you around campus. Please say hello and let me know how things are going. I also invite you to stay in touch via twitter twitter.com/DavidVanZandt or drop me a line at email@example.com.