David E. Van Zandt, President

September 1, 2011

Welcome to all new and returning students. Hurricane Irene certainly got in the way of the start of classes, but we pulled together and emerge eager to make the best of a new academic year. I hope the semester is off to a good start and you are settling in.

I extend a warm greeting to four new members of our leadership team: Stephanie Browner, dean of Eugene Lang College; Richard Kessler, dean of Mannes; Rosemary Mathewson, senior vice president of distributed and international education; and Pippin Parker, director of The New School for Drama. Each will play a key role at The New School, and I am delighted to have them begin the semester with us.

As the new academic year begins, we can take pride in many fine accomplishments and New School firsts:

  • The New School for Public Engagement, a division formed through the integration of The New School for General Studies and Milano, has a new name and a familiar purpose. NSPE will extend our strong tradition of civic engagement and learning in action into something truly distinctive in higher education.

  • NSPE is the home of the first New School students pursuing master's degrees in environmental policy and sustainability management and of the first to pursue certificates in sustainability strategies and leadership and change.

  • The New School received a STARS Silver Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for the first time. I congratulate all of those who helped advance our effort to make the university carbon-neutral by 2040.

  • Our Empowerhouse team is headed for Washington to compete in the Solar Decathlon. Beginning September 23, our entry in this prestigious international competition will be on view on the National Mall. Parsons and Milano students contributed design and urban policy expertise to make Empowerhouse a serious Decathlon contender. Judging concludes at the end of the month, and The New School's hopes are high.

Last spring, I announced our Service Initiative, designed to improve operations for everyone—students, faculty, and staff. Over the summer, we made great progress:

  • Google transition: The move to Google for student email is progressing, with faculty and staff email soon to follow.

  • Upgrade in student computing resources: Facilities at 6 East 16th Street and Arnhold Hall were upgraded. Computing resources were added that will allow for better-quality printing and sound recording and editing.

  • Improvement in library resources: Richer electronic content has been added, along with a user-friendly search tool and new photocopiers and scanners.

  • Better access to the BobCat database: Student access to BobCat, our online catalog, has been improved.

  • Creation of a common course catalog: Work is well underway to create the first university-wide course catalog for the spring 2012 semester.

  • Resources for student employment: Human Resources is working to offer students comprehensive one-stop shopping for employment at the university. Later this fall, students will be given access to all open jobs through a link on the university's website. Payroll is also working with HR to implement an online timekeeping system for students and their supervisors, to be implemented early in 2012.

You can read the Action List of service initiatives that have been completed, work currently underway, and longer-term projects being considered at under "Campus Announcements."

Last spring, we began to engage students, faculty, staff, and trustees in strategic planning to set the direction of the university for the years ahead. That process will continue this year. Provost Tim Marshall and I will update you on these efforts at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, October 26, at noon in Wollman Hall. Until then, feel free to email me at with your ideas and questions. We all have a stake in making The New School as good as it can possibly be.

To the new members of our community in particular: Students and faculty at The New School take part in everything that makes New York City pulse with productive energy. As you begin your years with us, I encourage you to seek out and discover your own niche, whether in the classroom, through a civic engagement project, in independent research and internships, or by fully engaging with faculty and peers. You are now part of an exceptionally talented community, and your voice is a crucial part of it. I look forward to your contribution.

Finally, even though I have been on the job since January, September 15 marks my formal installation as this university's eighth president. I am honored to be your president, and I hope you will join me at the ceremony and the reception that follows.

With thanks,


Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.