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New School Office of the President Laserfiche files

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-01-01-06


The New School Office of the President laserfiche files were created by the Process Improvement Office at The New School in 2014-2015. The collection consists primarily of electronic files dating from the New School presidencies of Jonathan F. Fanton and Bob Kerrey, including remarks by New School officers and others. A large portion of the files comprise photographs from events hosted by the New School President and Board of Trustees.


  • circa 1920s-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1985-2010



1.50 Gigabytes (2,773 files)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The New School Office of the President laserfiche files represents the product of a project to digitize paper files mounted in 2014-2015 by the Process Improvement Office. According to an email from Tokumbo Shobowale, executive vice president for business and operations to the New School Community dated January 9, 2014, the Process Improvement Office was "tasked with analyzing new policies, procedures, and resources and identifying ways to improve operations and delivery of services to students, faculty, and staff by making essential processes faster, easier, and less costly." The office was led by Lisa Murray and included three other staff members, and the inaugural assignment for the office was to select and implement a central document management system. The project was also intended to "greatly reduce paper files, freeing up spaces for more productive use and facilitating access to documents. intended to reduce the use and storage of paper on The New School campus."

Consisting of 2,773 electronic files in pdf format, more than 2,500 are scans of photographic prints and contact sheets. The records predominantly stem from the presidencies of Jonathan F. Fanton (1982-1999) and Bob Kerrey (2000-2010), although the collection also includes photographs and other files dating from before President Fanton's tenure, as well as a few files created during the first year of David E. Van Zandt's presidency (2011-2020). Files include transcripts of speeches and remarks by New School presidents, board of trustee members, provosts, deans, faculty, students, honorary degree recipients, and guest speakers; scripts and programs of event proceedings; and, predominantly scans of photographs documenting inaugurations, commencements, memorials, dedications, convocations, and board of trustees events. The collection includes photographs dating as far back as the 1920s, including portraits and candid shots of deans and officers from the presidencies of Hans Simons (1950-1961), Henry David (1961-1963), and John Everett (1964-1982).

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Historical Note

The original intention of the founders of the New School was that the school would have no president. James Harvey Robinson served for two years as the school’s unofficial director after the school opened in 1919. Alvin Saunders Johnson assumed the role of director in 1923. In 1931, Johnson oversaw the opening of The New School’s first permanent home at 66 West 12th Street. That same year, Johnson appointed Clara Woolie Mayer assistant director. Mayer played a pivotal role in the first four decades of the school.

Alvin Johnson became the first New School president in approximately 1936, the year that the first degrees were conferred by the Graduate Faculty of the New School. Johnson served as president until 1946, when he was succeeded by Bryn J. Hovde, then head of the Division of Cultural Cooperation of the U.S. State Department. Hovde resigned the position in 1950, replaced by Hans Simons, a longtime professor of political science who had served as dean of the School of Politics and vice president and director of international studies at the New School.

With the school facing a budgetary crisis, Simons opened graduate courses to students in the adult education division. Ultimately, Simons led the school into a period of growth, including a major building project adjacent to the building at 66 West 12th Street. Simons retired in 1961. He was succeeded by Henry David, dean of the Graduate Faculty.

Among other measures, David streamlined the adult education division, firing Clara Mayer from her longtime post as dean of the School of Philosophy and Liberal Arts. David’s reorganization efforts saw student numbers increase, but also expenses. Rumors of a potential merger with New York University led to a successful campaign to “Save the School” spearheaded by President Emeritus Johnson, but this was not enough to stop the board from demanding David’s resignation in 1963. Robert M. MacIver, a member of the board since 1952, was appointed acting president. MacIver served as president in 1964, and was named to the newly created office of chancellor in 1965, when a new president, John R. Everett, former chancellor of the City University of New York, was appointed. Everett served in this role until 1982, overseeing the dramatic expansion of the university, with student enrollment shooting from 8,000 to 30,000 and the operating budget growing from $2 million to $40 million. The increase in size was in large part due to the New School’s merger with Parsons School of Design in 1970. Everett’s tenure also saw the creation of an undergraduate liberal arts program, with the Seminar College established in 1976, and the reformation of the Center for New York City Affairs into the Graduate School for Management and Urban Professions in 1978. Student protests, especially concerning the Vietnam War, were a common fixture during Everettt’s term.

By the end of Everett’s administration, the New School faced an uncertain future, with three programs at the Graduate Faculty being de-accredited and losing the ability to grant degrees, and the university's tuition-based funding model struggling to keep up with its growing size.

In 1982, upon Everett’s departure, the board of trustees appointed Jonathan F. Fanton as the school’s next president. Fanton oversaw the rebuilding of the Graduate Faculty and prioritized the centralization and expansion of the university administration, while working to build the university’s endowment. Fanton oversaw the school’s merger with Mannes College of Music in 1989 and the beginning of the New School’s partnership with The Actors Studio in 1995. In 1998, he renamed the New School for Social Research--the school’s name since its founding--to New School University, to better reflect the broadened scope of the various divisions. As Everett’s presidency was rocked by protests reflecting the times, so Fanton’s presidency was unsettled by protest, including the rancorous 1996-1997 student Mobilization for Real Diversity, Democracy and Economic Justice (the Mobilization) after Afro-Caribbean feminist scholar M. Jacqui Alexander’s contract was not renewed. Fanton’s response to student protest typically involved framing them as conflicts over freedom of expression, creating the Committee on Freedom of Expression in 1986 and the 1997 Committee on Diversity, Harassment, and Freedom of Expression, in response to the Mobilization.

Fanton added the Office of Provost to the New School administration during his tenure, beginning with acting provost Joseph Porrino, in 1985, and appointing the school’s first official provost, Judith B. Walzer, in 1986. The provost’s role was to lead all matters related to academic affairs, shifting oversight of deans from the president to the provost, and further centralizing the reporting structures at the university. Fanton also established the office of Secretary of the Corporation, whose principal role was to serve as liaison to the board of trustees, preparing agendas and compiling materials for board meetings.

Fanton served as president until 1999. New School chancellor Phillip Scaturro then headed the school until the appointment of former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, who became New School president in 2001. Lacking a graduate education, Kerrey was an unpopular choice with faculty members, although his political connections made him very popular with the board of trustees. The Kerrey presidency focused on using Kerrey’s public profile to fundraise and continue building the endowment, raising the collective profile of the New School as a unified institution, in an effort to move away from a reliance upon the discrete reputations of the divisions. Notably, Kerrey’s term accelerated the process of centralization that had begun under Fanton. Kerrey was also responsible for dramatically increasing the number of full time faculty at the New School. In 2005, Kerrey renamed New School University as The New School, its current name, as of 2023.

Kerrey’s term was marked by controversy, including a 2008 faculty vote of no confidence, prompted in part by Kerrey’s leadership style and high administration turnover (five provosts left the university under Kerrey). Protests continued to plague Kerrey’s tenure, including a student protest in which students occupied the Graduate Center and the New York City police were brought in to expel them from the building.

Kerrey was succeeded in 2011 by David Van Zandt, previously the dean of Northwestern University School of Law. Van Zandt’s presidency saw a restructuring of the university, reducing the divisions from eight to five, as well as a restructure of central administration, in particular an increase in the size and power of the provost’s office under Tim Marshall, former dean of Parsons. Van Zandt’s tenure was also notable for its efforts to centralize the university campus, with Mannes School of Music and the Parsons fashion program moving to the main campus in Greenwich Village and the opening of the University Center at 65 5th Avenue in 2014. In 2017, academic student workers were unionized into SENS-UAW, who in 2018 went on strike alongside the school’s cafeteria workers.

Van Zandt was succeeded in April of 2020 by Dwight A. McBride, who had served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University. Starting his term shortly after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, McBride’s short tenure was plagued with issues, including discontent around his management of the pandemic, in particular the decision to lay off 122 staff members in 2020 and a month-long strike by part-time faculty members during the 2022 fall semester. McBride stepped down as president in 2023.

As of 2023, the Interim President of The New School is former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Congresswoman, and University of Miami president Donna E. Shalala.


“About the President.” Accessed December 22, 2021.

“Audio interview with Bea Banu,” 2013, Independent study oral history project on New School history, The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“Audio interview with Richard Bernstein,” 2012, New School Oral History Program, The New School Archives Digital Collections. New York, New York.

Barron, James. “John Everett, CUNY Chancellor And New School Head, Dies at 73,” New York Times, January 22, 1992,

Chan, Sewell. “The New School’s Kerrey Is to Step Down in 2011.” New York Times, May 7, 2009.

“Committee on Freedom of Expression report,” 1986, Jonathan F. Fanton papers, The New School Archives Digital Collections. New York, New York.

Corff, Kyah. "122 Staff Laid-off, a ‘Top-Down’ Administration, and a Corporate Third Party: TNS is Fractured by Recent Decisions,” New School Free Press, November 6, 2020,

Course Catalogs. 1922-2019. New School Course Catalog Collection. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“Degrees Approved for New School.” New York Times, August 1934. In Press clippings 13, 1935 Feb-1937 Jun, New School Publicity Scrapbook Collection. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York, 21.

“Dr. Henry David Named President of the New School.” New School Press Release Collection, January 18, 1961. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“Dr. John Everett Named Pres. Of New School.” New School Press Release Collection, October 16, 1964. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“Fanton Named President of The New School for Social Research.” New School Press Release Collection, May 22, 1982. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Foderaro, Lisa W. and Marc Santora. “New School Faculty Votes No Confidence in Kerrey.” New York Times, December 10, 2008.

Friedlander, Judith. A Light in Dark Times: The New School for Social Research and Its University in Exile. Columbia University Press, 2019.

“Henry David Resigns as New School President.” New School Press Release Collection, March 22, 1963, The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Kelly, Kim. “The New School’s adjunct professors’ strike shows how even 'good' jobs are increasingly precarious,” Fast Company, December 20, 2022,

“New School Board of Trustees Chairman Pays Tribute to President David Van Zandt for his Years of Outstanding Service to the University,” New School News, April 2, 2020,

“New School University to Hold 64th Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday May 23, 2000 at 10:30 AM at Riverside Church.” New School Office of Communications, George Calderaro Records, May 23, 2000. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“Resignation of President Bryn J. Hovde.” New School Press Release Collection, May 6, 1950. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Senior, Jennifer. "The New School president lost his lower leg in Vietnam, fought countless battles in the senate, even ran for president. But nothing prepared him for the insurrection he now faces." New York, vol. 42, no. 7, 2 (March 2009): 26+. Gale General OneFile. Accessed 9 June 9, 2022.

Sweet, Anna-Robinson. “The New School’s Forgotten President,” Public Seminar, February 18, 2020,

Historical Note

New School Presidents

Bryn J. Hovde, President
Hans Simons, President
Henry David, President
Robert M. MacIver, Acting President
Robert M. MacIver, President
John R. Everett, President
Jonathan F. Fanton, President
Interim — Philip Scaturro, Chancellor
Bob Kerrey, President
David Van Zandt, President
Dwight A. McBride, President
Donna Shalala, Interim President


Organized into 8 series and usually chronologically within series, although several series include subseries arranged alphabetically: 1. Bob Kerry remarks; 2. Commencement speeches; 3. Convocation speeches; 4. Dedications; 5. Divisions; 6. Jonathan Fanton remarks; 7. Memorials; 8. Photographs.

The arrangement of the folders reflects the location files were in when transferred to the archives, representing the original directory structure. Consequently, files related to a particular category or event will sometimes be found located in more than one series, and files may be in a series where one might expect to find them in another series. For example, while Series 7. Memorials holds documentation about memorials, remarks made by President Jonathan Fanton at several memorials are found in Series 6. Jonathan Fanton remarks.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Facilitated by Lisa Murray of the New School Process Improvement Office, the files were extracted from a laserfiche storage carrier on approximately April 8, 2015 by senior systems analyst, Jimmy Louie. The files were copied onto an external drive and transferred to the New School Archives. They were copied from the hard drive onto the Archives' server by the manager of digital initiatives, Elizabeth Harrell-Edge.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds many records with associated (and sometimes duplicate) materials as the files in this collection, including, but not limited, to: New School Office of the President records (NS.01.01.03); New School Publicity Office records (NS.03.01.05); New School Communications and External Affairs photographs (NS.03.01.09); New School photograph collection (NS.04.01.01); New School commencement, convocation and inauguration print materials collection (NS.05.05.01); New School Office of the President commencement records (NS.05.05.02); and New School marketing and promotional materials collection (NS.05.08.01). A series of white papers produced between 1994 and 2010 illuminating the functioning of various university administrative offices were separated from this collection and integrated into the New School central administration collectionition (NS.01.01.05). Email for information.

Processing Information

The records in this collection were digitized by staff in The New School President's Office onto a digital storage format called laserfiche in an effort to digitally preserve them. The laserfiche project was probably associated with a university-wide initiative led by the Business Improvement Office. The precise disposition of paper records represented by electronic files in this collection is unknown, though many of the records represented here are present in other collections that have been transferred to the New School Archives. While there is undoubtedly duplication between the files in this collection and other collections in the archives, New School archivists decided to retain many of the transferred laserfiche files, as there may be valuable files here that are not otherwise available.

The staff of the Office of Secretary, an office within the President's Office, selected the files to transfer to the archives from a larger group of material, based upon the staff's determination about which files were worthy of historical preservation, as well as decisions about which files they believed were allowed to be made publicly available. The New School Archives staff did not participate in this decision-making process, and do not know the exact criteria for the decisions. Since this collection consists of files that have already been scanned, archivists have retained the files to obviate the need to digitize the same material that may exist in other collections in the archives. In some instances, the processing archivist was able to confirm that files in this collection are present in other collections and have already been scanned—in this latter case, when determined, files have been deleted from the present collection.

Most of the electronic file dates in the collection reflect the date when the files were moved from one computer directory to another, not the date when they were transferred to laserfiche nor the original creation date of the document. Many of the file names contain dates indicating when events and other contents represented by the files were originally created. Where possible, the original dates when the material was created have been used throughout the collection inventory.

Guide to the New School Office of the President laserfiche files
Jack Wells and The New School Archives Staff
December 21, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description