Kerrey: ‘Arranged marriage’ with provost is working


By Lincoln Anderson

Following a school year that was rocked by student protests, building occupations and demands for a change in the school’s leadership, The New School’s convocation on Sept. 3 was a placid, feel-good affair.

In his remarks, Bob Kerrey, the school’s president, said the main accomplishment over the summer had been the strengthening of the office of the provost, the university’s chief academic officer, whose job will be to unify the campus.

Also, Kerrey said, plans are moving ahead on The New School’s new University Center, at 65 Fifth Ave. The university is currently working on a schematic design, and the details will be brought to the community and local elected officials, who are being led on the issue by Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Kerrey said.

“It’s a process we take very seriously,” he added of the outreach on the new building.

Provost Tim Marshall echoed Kerrey in saying the main challenge will be to bring cohesiveness to the university’s various divisions and differing “academic cultures.”

“In my view, we don’t really need a new vision at this point — after all, a new New School might be a bit much,” Marshall quipped.

Kerrey, who took heavy fire last year for going through a string of provosts before Marshall, called his relationship with him like “an arranged marriage.”

With a smile and turning toward Marshall, he said, “I’m happy to report that it’s working very well.”

Distinguished University Teaching Awards were presented to four faculty members. The awards were bestowed by faculty peers, who based their decisions on student comments.

Jinsook Erin Cho, from Parsons The New School for Design, was recognized for teaching her students valuable insights about real-world design.

Lisa R. Rubin, from The New School for Social Research and The New School for General Studies, was honored for her classes on women’s health and women’s objectification — specifically on treatment decisions by women carrying the so-called breast-cancer gene.

Mary R. Watson, from Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, received a Distinguished University Teaching Award for her courses on leadership.

Writer Susan Shapiro, from The New School for General Studies, was recognized for her perennially popular course “Writing for New York City Newspapers and Magazines.”

One student’s comment — read aloud — about Shapiro was, “I learned more in this class than I learned in three journalism classes at N.Y.U.” prompting appreciative laughter from the capacity audience at Tishman Auditorium.

Kerrey has been The New School president the last nine years. After a school year that saw the faculty vote no confidence in him, in addition to the student occupations and calls for his ouster, in May, Kerrey announced that he would step down “no later than” the expiration of his current contract at the end of June 2011.