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Judith B. Walzer papers

Identifier: NA-0033-01


Judith B. Walzer served as the first provost of the New School for Social Research (now, The New School) from 1985 to 1997. The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, program proposals, university budget-related files, and documents pertaining to faculty matters during Walzer’s tenure as provost.


  • 1983-2005



2.5 Cubic Feet (Three boxes and one legal-sized folder.)

Language of Materials



Scope and Contents

The collection consists of records kept by Judith Walzer while serving as the university’s first provost. Files in the collection are dated between 1983 and 2005. There are only a few records pre-dating Walzer’s tenure as provost. Likewise, records post-dating her tenure as provost, which ended in 1999, generally constitute folders containing correspondence.

Walzer’s files are indicative of the inner-workings of college administrations and the leadership of higher education. and demonstrate a close working relationship with the university president, Jonathan F. Fanton. In her role as provost, Walzer often represented the New School on behalf of Fanton. Files related to these activities include invitations, notes, and remarks she made at university and outside events.

Several folders titled for academic departments and divisions at the New School for Social Research indicate how the provost oversaw and coordinated with various entities on campus to foster curricular goals and program expansion. Documents include five-year plans, memoranda that discuss strategic hiring of faculty, and budgetary restraints faced by each college. The program-specific files are supplemented by the folder titled “Office of the Provost annual academic goals,” which contains lengthy reports provided by Walzer to President Fanton. These annual reports outline the accomplishments, non-achievements, and working goals of the past academic year, organized by college division.

Apart from working at the New School for Social Research, Walzer was an active external reviewer for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Along with additional external reviewers, Walzer contributed and compiled accreditation reports for colleges in the United States and Puerto Rico. The corresponding folder contains guidelines for serving as an external reviewer, as well as the final periodic review reports provided to the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Dickinson College, and Chestnut Hill College.

This collection chronologically succeeds the New School Office of the Provost, Judith B. Walzer correspondence (NS.01.03.01). It does not contain references of general student life from this time, such as the student-led protest movement of the mid-1990s (known as the Mobilization for Real Diversity, Democracy, and Economic Justice).

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Records pertaining to monetary donations and faculty employment are restricted for 50 years from the latest date of creation in the file. 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:

Biographical note

Judith Borodovko Walzer was the first provost of the New School for Social Research (now, The New School), serving in that role from 1985 until 1997. Her time as university provost parallels the administration of New School President Jonathan Fanton, who served from 1982 until 1999.

Born in New York City in 1935, Walzer received her BA in 1958, MA in 1960, and PhD in 1967, all from Brandeis University. She began her career as a university administrator in 1974, as director of the Office for Women's Education at Radcliffe College, where she was also made associate dean in 1976. In 1977, following the announcement of Radcliffe's merger with Harvard University, Walzer resigned from Radcliffe and became senior tutor and assistant dean for co-education at Harvard. In 1980, she left Harvard to become assistant to the president at Princeton University, where she worked until becoming provost at The New School.

While serving as provost, Walzer was concurrently a professor of literature, primarily teaching English and American literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After resigning as provost in 1998 and going on a year of sabbatical, she resumed teaching literature at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts from September 1999 until her retirement on July 1, 2007. During this period, Walzer also taught in the Parsons School of Design Liberal Studies program and served as chair of the Eugene Lang College Program in Literature and the Arts.

As of 2021, Walzer's education career continues at the Princeton (New Jersey) Senior Resource Center's Evergreen Forum, where she teaches courses in film. She is the wife of political theorist Michael Walzer, a frequent lecturer at The New School, and sister-in-law of historian Judith Walzer Levitt.

Historical note

The Office of the Provost was first added to the administration of The New School in 1985 by President Jonathan Fanton. The office was added amid an expansion of administrative roles at the university and shifted managerial oversight of deans from the president to the provost. Under the previous president, John Everett, the number of deans had increased substantially, alongside the rapid expansion of the university and its divisions in the 1970s. The creation of the office of Provost also spelled an end to Everett’s policy of divisional autonomy, making the deans of each division more accountable to central administration.

Joseph Porrino was appointed first acting provost by President Fanton in 1985 and served until the following year, when Judith B. Walzer was named the first official provost of the university. Walzer served until her resignation in 1997, when she was replaced by Elizabeth Dickey. During the early years of the office, the responsibilities of the provost were frequently redefined by the administration. The office itself was also significantly smaller and less powerful when compared with later periods.

During Bob Kerrey’s presidency, from 2000 until 2011, there was exceptionally high turnover in the Office of the Provost, with five individuals holding the position. After Dickey’s departure in 2002, Jackson Kytle, then deputy provost, was named interim provost. In 2004, Kerrey appointed the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai as provost. Appadurai was followed by Benjamin Lee in 2006, who resigned in 2008 over disagreements with Kerrey. Joseph W. Westphal came next, but resigned after three months to join the United States Presidential transition team of Barack Obama. After Westphal’s resignation, Bob Kerrey appointed himself provost in a move that led New School faculty to deliver an informal vote of no confidence to the Board of Trustees. Kerrey reversed his self-appointment and in 2009 Tim Marshall, then dean of Parsons, was made provost.

The powers of the Office expanded considerably under university President David Van Zandt, who succeeded Kerrey in 2011. After Tim Marshall’s departure in 2020 to become deputy vice-chancellor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Stephanie Browner was made interim provost. In 2021, Renée T. White, formerly provost of Wheaton College, was appointed provost.


amNY. “Noted scholar Appadurai named provost at New School University.” The Villager, September 30, 2006.

Audio Interview with Elizabeth Ross by Carmen Hendershott, March 10, 2015, The New School Oral History Program, NS.07.01.01, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, NY.

Course Catalogs, 1985-1986, New School Course Catalog Collection. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Foderado, Lisa W. “New School Faculty and President Still at Odds,” New York Times, February 10, 2009.

Senior, Jennifer. “Bob Kerrey’s Ivory Tower War.” New York Magazine, February 20, 2009.


Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to The New School Archives by Judith B. Walzer, 2023.

Related Materials

This collection chronologically succeeds the New School Office of the Provost, Judith B. Walzer correspondence (NS.01.03.01), which includes outgoing correspondence by Walzer during her first year as university provost. The New School Office of the President records, Office of the Provost sub-group (NS.01.03.04) contains documents created by or pertaining to the term in which Judith Walzer served as provost (1985-1997).

Walzer's binder, "Policies To Live By," was identical to a bound copy of the 1995 handbook for full-time faculty, which can be found in the folder, "Handbook for Full-time Faculty of the New School for Social Research, Spring 1995" (box 1, folder 25) in the New School for Social Research Office of the Dean records (NS.02.02.03).

Processing Information

Original folder titles have been retained, except in cases where the processing archivist refined them for clarity. All folders titled by programs or divisions of The New School were originally titled based on the dean of the program. Acronyms and abbreviations on folder titles were spelled out. Records deemed confidential or having restriction were foldered separately from non-restricted documents.

Guide to the Judith B. Walzer papers
Victoria Fernandez and Jack Wells
April 30, 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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