The ultra-progressive New School university is facing a projected $85.5 million budget deficit — and things are so bad that even asked students and faculty have been asked to submit budget-cutting suggestions.
In no surprise for a school that’s produced Marxists such as Jacques Derrida and Erich Fromm, the ideas include chopping executive salaries and even selling off the school-owned Greenwich Village townhouse currently occupied by former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala, now serving as New School’s interim president.
The New School woke up to a harsh reality during the pandemic: operating a private university in lower Manhattan is quite expensive.
Chief Financial Officer Josh Burgher warned in a March budgeting meeting that the projected 5-year deficit could “easily” swell to $240 million.
But austerity attempts have been met with vociferous opposition from the ultra-progressive community.
In 2020 the school chopped top leadership salaries by 12 to 15%, cut down on library subscriptions, extended voluntary separation packages to employees and laid of 122 predominantly lower-level staffers.
“This is not about securing a future for The New School, but a struggle over power and the kind of university The New School will be in the future,” the New School American Association of University Professors said in a statement.
Protests are ongoing. In April, a Rally Against Austerity movement, organized by students and faculty, declared: “No tuition hikes. No pay cuts. No layoffs.”
The school was also rocked by a 25-day part-time professor strike last year — the longest in American history — demanding pay increases. Students banded together in solidarity, occupying school buildings for days on end.
An agreement was reached in December, plunging the school further into deficit.
“The students and teachers put on a strike practically every semester,” an anonymous Master’s student told The Post. “[The administration is] actually quite submissive when the students demand anything. I don’t know where the money comes from to pay off all the demands.”
Srishti Yadav, a professor at Azim Premji University who holds a PhD in economics from the New School, decried her alma mater’s budget-slashing in the Marxist magazine Jacobin.
“At the New School, two visions are colliding: one of its student body and faculty … and the other of its Board of Trustees and presidential leadership,” she wrote.
Yadav told the Post she chose the New School to study economics through a Marxist lens but was sorely disappointed with the administration’s evidently capitalistic endeavors.
“The New School was founded by individuals who were able to create an institution that stood for progressive values, but that has changed,” she said. “The whole vision for the university changed, which makes it really difficult to practice the progressive values that it was founded on.”
Professor and chair of economics Sanjay Reddy has suggested alternative cost-cutting measures, like emergency fundraising and further salary cuts to the highest-paid employees.
As he points out, the New School president’s salary is higher in proportion to its endowment than Harvard’s president’s, and the presidential townhouse is worth an estimated $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 out venues, managing its trademark and reimagining the campus bookstore. Another round pertaining to academic changes is forthcoming.
“We are grateful for the community’s support and participation and are confident these efforts and other initiatives will help ensure that The New School is strong, stable and thriving for many years to come,” Assistant Vice President of Communications Amy Malsin told The Post.
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