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Mannes School of Music Office of the Dean records

 Record Group
Identifier: MA-01-03-01


This collection consists of documents generated and compiled by the office of the dean of the Mannes School of Music at The New School from 1989 to 2004, during the tenures of deans Charles Kaufman and Joel Lester. The documents include reports, publicity information, memoranda, and correspondence. The collection also includes letters of commendation to the Mannes College of Music written by noted musicians in 1958.


  • 1952-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1988-2002



1.3 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of documents pertaining to the office of the dean of the Mannes School of Music at The New School from approximately 1988 to 2004, during the tenures of deans Charles Kaufman and Joel Lester. However, this collection is not a comprehensive record of the activities of the office of the dean during this time. Many of the documents may have been compiled for the purpose of presenting information at various meetings of the Mannes Board of Governors by Mannes director of development and planning George C. Nichols, who served in that capacity from 1990 into the early 2000s. The collection includes correspondence and memoranda from Nichols, Kaufman, and Lester, as well as enrollment and budget reports, fundraising lists and correspondence, publicity information, background on the Mannes 75th Anniversary Concert in 1991, and documents related to the unionization of Mannes and New School faculty in 2004.

The collection also includes several letters written in 1958 to Leopold Mannes offering words of commendation to the Mannes College of Music from notable musicians, including composers Aaron Copland, Richard Rodgers, and Douglas Moore, violinist Isaac Stern, cellist Pablo Casals, and conductor George Szell.

The New School Archives and Special Collections does not hold the full records of the Mannes School of Music Office of the Dean.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Some files are restricted for a period of time in accordance with The New School Archives’ confidentiality policy, including student records, files with faculty and personnel information, and other sensitive university records. Please contact for more information.

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

In 1916, violinist and conductor David Mannes and pianist Clara Mannes, David’s wife and daughter of conductor Leopold Damrosch, founded the David Mannes Music School, and the two served as its directors for most of its early history. In 1948, after the death of Clara Mannes, David and Clara’s son, Leopold Mannes, became president of the school, and in 1953, the school received a charter as a degree-granting institution and its name was changed to The Mannes College of Music. The position of dean of the school was established in the years after this transition with Shirley Van Brunt serving as dean under president Leopold Mannes.

The organizational structure of Mannes College of Music remained unchanged under successive presidents and deans until the tenure of Charles Kaufman, who was named president of Mannes in 1979 by the newly appointed Board of Governors, following the removal of the previous Mannes board by the New York State Board of Regents. Kaufman negotiated the incorporation of Mannes as a division of The New School in 1989, and he became the dean of Mannes under the president of The New School at the time, Jonathan F. Fanton. Kaufman served as dean until 1995, although he remained a faculty member until retiring in 2002.

Charles Kaufman was succeeded as dean by City College of New York music faculty member Joel Lester, who was appointed in 1995 and installed in January of 1996. Lester served as dean until 2011, and helped establish the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory. As of 2016, Mannes School of Music, the School of Drama, and the School of Jazz at The New School became divisions of the College of Performing Arts under executive dean Richard Kessler who also serves as dean of the Mannes School of Music as of 2023.


“College of Performing Arts Faculty: Richard Kessler.” The New School. Accessed January 12, 2022.

Course Catalogs. “Mannes College of Music.” College of Performing Arts Course Catalog Collection. 1916-2006. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Goldman, Ari L. “Regents Plan Inquiry into a Merger Proposed by Two Schools of Music.” New York Times, March 23, 1979.

“Joel Lester, Dean of New School University’s Mannes College of Music, Elected President of the Society for Music Theory.” The New School, November 6, 2002. Accessed January 12, 2022.

Kleiman, Dena. “State Removes Board of Mannes College.” New York Times, May 25, 1979.

“Leopold Mannes, Pianist, Dies; Inventor Headed Music School.” New York Times, August 12, 1964.

“Mannes: History.” The New School. Accessed March 31, 2020.

“Regents remove members of Mannes Board of Trustees." American Association of University Professors, Vol. 6 No. 2 (Summer 1979):6

“Remembering Dr. Charles Kaufman.” New School News, March 24, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2022.

Roberts, Sam. “Charles Kaufman, Transformative Leader of Mannes College of Music, Dies at 87.” New York Times, March 22, 2016.


Organized in one series, with general files arranged chronologically followed by files arranged alphabetically by subject.

Custodial History

A note found with the records indicates that the material had been "accumulated over time at current location (Mannes Dean's Office)." No other information has been identified that indicates when or by whom this material was transferred to Scherman Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Scherman Library of Mannes College of Music to the New School Archives and Special Collections in 2015.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds administrative records dating to the origin of the Mannes School of Music in the Mannes College of Music administrative records collection (MA.01.01.01); and Miriam Kartch Mannes College of Music administrative files, (MA.01.02.01), which includes faculty and administration records from Kartch's tenure at Mannes. Mannes newsletters, including Mannes Muse, will be found in the New School periodicals collection (NS.05.06.01) and photographs of Mannes events, visiting faculty, student performances, and facilities will be found in the Mannes School of Music photograph collection (MA.04.01.01).

Processing Information

The majority of the original folders were unlabeled, and extensive duplication was found within and across multiple folders. Documents in folders found under the General heading in this collection were apparently collected for the purpose of preparing Mannes Board of Governors meetings. They have been reordered chronologically in order to eliminate duplicates and to facilitate research access.

Guide to the Mannes School of Music Office of the Dean records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
June 9, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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