The ultra-progressive New School university faces a projected budget shortfall of $85.5 million — and the situation is so dire that even students and faculty surveyed were asked to submit suggestions for budget cuts.
Unsurprisingly for a school that has produced Marxists such as Jacques Derrida and Erich Fromm, ideas include cutting salaries for leaders and even selling the Greenwich Village house owned by the school and currently occupied by the former member. of the Clinton cabinet, Donna Shalala, who is now acting for the New School. president.
The New School realized a harsh reality during the pandemic: operating a private university in Lower Manhattan is quite expensive.
After a 15% drop in enrollment, the college dipped into its endowment to make up for a $130 million shortfall.
Chief Financial Officer Josh Burgher warned at a budget meeting in March that the projected five-year deficit could “easily” hit $240 million.
But austerity attempts have been met with vehement opposition from the ultra-progressive community.
In 2020, the school cut top executive salaries by 12-15%, cut library subscriptions, extended voluntary severance packages to employees, and laid off 122 mostly lower-level employees.
“This is not about securing a future for the New School, but about a struggle for power and what kind of university the New School will be in the future,” said the New School American Association of University. Professors in a press release.
The protests continue. In April, a Rally against austerity The movement, organized by students and teachers, declared: “No tuition hikes. No pay cut. No layoffs. »
Last year, the school was also rocked by a 25-day strike by part-time teachers – the longest in American history – demanding pay rises. The students banded together in solidarity and occupied the school buildings for entire days.
A deal was reached in December, pushing the school further into deficit.
“Students and teachers go on strike almost every semester,” an anonymous graduate student told the Post. “(The administration is) actually quite submissive when students demand anything. I don’t know where the money comes from to pay all the claims.
Srishti Yadav, professor at Azim Premji University and holder of a doctorate in economics from the New School, denounced the budget cuts of his alma mater in the Marxist magazine Jacobin.
“At the New School, two visions clash: one concerning its student body and its teachers… and the other, that of its board of trustees and its presidential leadership,” she wrote.
Yadav told the Post that she chose The New School to study economics from a Marxist perspective, but was deeply disappointed by the administration’s blatantly capitalist efforts.
“The New School was founded by individuals capable of creating an institution upholding progressive values, but that has changed,” she said. “The overall vision of the university has changed, making it very difficult to put into practice the progressive values on which it was founded. »
Professor and chair of economics Sanjay Reddy has suggested alternative cost-cutting measures, such as emergency fundraising and further pay cuts for top-paid employees.
As he points out, the salary of the president of the New School is higher, in proportion to his endowment, than that of the president of Harvard, and the presidential house is worth around $15 million.
The New School told the Post that a first wave of community suggestions are being implemented, including optimizing the school’s real estate portfolio, leasing space, managing its brand and reinventing the campus bookstore. Another cycle of academic changes is coming.
“We are grateful for the support and participation of the community and are confident that these efforts and other initiatives will help ensure that the new school is strong, stable and thriving for many years to come,” the Post told the Post. assistant vice president of communications, Amy Malsin.