The New School
March 28, 2011

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 remain 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 draws so many here, and it is what I find so compelling as well.

One of the many reasons I feel an 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 history, the contributions of our graduates, and the energy of our current students and faculty, 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?

How can higher education, with its many constituencies and competing demands, bring about positive change in the world?

You are a vital member of The New School community, and I invite you to join me in seeking answers to these questions. By swimming against the tide of educational convention, The New School can take its place as the progressive higher education institution.

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, which has cultivated student excellence here for several generations. The New School is experiencing unparalleled expansion in enrollment, new programs, and facilities. We are emerging from a challenging economy in good financial health. Everyone who works, studies, and volunteers time and resources at The New School deserves credit for this success.

Much of our current success is due to the leadership and vision of President Bob Kerrey over the past 10 years. I thank him for his efforts and for the guidance he has offered as I make my transition. 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. Alumni must continue to be global ambassadors of the school. This semester, I am planning to meet with a broad cross-section of the university community to better understand the dynamics of The New School and hear firsthand about the issues facing the community. From these encounters, I would like to develop a process through which we can collaborate to take The New School to an even higher level of excellence.

As I begin my tenure, I look forward to meeting as many parents, alumni, and friends of The New School as I can. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on your New School experience and encourage you to visit to share your perspective.

Thank you.


David E. Van Zandt
President, The New School

P.S. Our next reunion is April 16, 2011. Please visit to learn of upcoming programs, networking events, reunions, and other opportunities to connect with fellow graduates and other members of The New School community.

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