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New School Office of the President Entertainment, Event and Travel sub-group

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-01-01-09


These papers document the New School Office of the President’s planning efforts relating to hosting events and to travel, mostly from between 1979 and 1989, including events spanning the tenures of John Everett and Jonathan Fanton and travel during only the Fanton era. Documentation includes guest lists, seating arrangements, invitations and correspondence with speakers, attendees, and vendors, transcripts of speeches delivered by the president, and notes on fundraising and development strategy.


  • 1974-1990



5.4 Cubic Feet (4 boxes and 7 folders)

Scope and Contents

This sub-group of records from the New School Office of the President document university planning efforts relating to hosting events and to travel, mostly from between 1979 and 1989. This sub-group is composed of two series. The first series, Entertainment and Events, concerns events held by the president of The New School spanning the tenures of John Everett and Jonathan Fanton. The bulk of these documents concern event planning and in particular contain guest lists, plans for seating arrangements, invitations and other correspondence with speakers and attendees, documents related to catering, speeches delivered by the president, and notes on fund raising and development strategy. The series reflects the fund raising efforts and public programs of the period and includes papers relating to the hosting of events featuring prominent figures including Muhammad Ali, Buckminster Fuller, Ralph Ellison, I.M. Pei, Tom Wolfe, Michael Manley, Susan Sontag, David Dinkins, and Donna Karan.

The second series, Travel, contains documents relating to business and personal travel undertaken by Jonathan Fanton during his term as president of The New School. The bulk of these documents consist of itineraries and correspondence. These documents only cover the years 1983 to 1988, and many concern the merger of Parsons School of Design with Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Also of note are documents related to Fanton’s travels to Eastern and Central Europe, which reflect initiatives within the Graduate Faculty (now, the New School for Social Research) to establish closer ties to that region during the last years of communist rule.

The files in this sub-group were part of a large accession of records transferred from the Office of the President to the New School Archives in 2015. The original accession was likely a records management project undertaken by the Office of the President in the 2000s. This suggests that the files may have been removed from their respective offices, relabeled, and reorganized some time in the 2000s.

Language of Materials

The primary language of the collection is English. Folders in Series 2 regarding President Jonathan F. Fanton's travels may contain documents in German, French, Polish, and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Documents in Series 2 pertaining to solicitations of donations and individual gift amounts are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Please contact for appointments, or to inquire about access restrictions and The New School Archives and Special Collections' access policies.

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 institution 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 university.

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 university 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 from 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 Everett’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 university’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,


Collection is arranged in two series: 1. Entertainment and Events; 2. Travel. Folders within the series are arranged chronologically by date of event.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These files were identified as a discrete group of records and separated from a large accession of records transferred from The New School President's Office in 2015.

Related Materials

Office files of President Jonathan Fanton (1982-1999) are found in the New School Office of the President records (NS.01.01.03). The Jonathan F. Fanton papers (NA.0027.01) holds a small number of documents related to Fanton's activities at The New School, as well as a sizable collection of files related to his travel as president of the MacArthur Foundation. Photographs of events mentioned in this collection, such as commencements, convocations, and luncheons, are found in the New School photograph collection (NS.04.01.01).

Processing Information

The files in this sub-group were part of a large accession of records transferred from the Office of the President to the New School Archives in 2015. This sub-group of files constituted a discrete set of titles and labels, largely already sorted in rough chronlological order. File arrangement has been maintained in the same order as transfered from the Office of the President. The original folder labels were retained and transcribed as folder titles. The processing archivist refined some folder titles to include event names and travel destinations for specificity. The inventory supplied to the Archives by the President's Office was not complete, so certain folders have been added. Duplicates and documents that do not conform to ASC confidentiality policies were removed during processing. Photographs and contact sheets were enclosed in mylar sleeves for preservation purposes.

Guide to the New School Office of the President Entertainment, Event and Travel sub-group
Jack Wells and Victoria Fernandez
June 28, 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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