Students demand cash-strapped New School sell Shalala townhouse

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.

After enrollment tumbled by 15%, the college dipped into its endowment to offset a $130 million revenue shortfall.

The New School campus
The New School’s administration is struggling to close a lingering deficit post-pandemic.
Getty Images

Financial deficit projected by the school
At a recent University Budget Committee meeting, New School staff revealed a grim projection of future deficit.
The New School

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.

Rally Against Austerity poster
Campus protesters have rebelled against the university’s cost-cutting measures.

“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.

TikToker says "160 students slept in school classrooms. We've had to occupy the school for nine days now."
Student protesters occupied school property last year in solidarity with part-time staff’s strike for higher pay.
@kxngzaire/ TikTok

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.

Strikers at the New School
Last year the New School’s part-time staff engaged in a history-making strike that lasted 25 days.
Corbis via Getty Images

“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.”

Donna Shalala
Interim president of The New School Donna Shalala currently resides in the President’s Greenwich Village townhouse, which has come under fire amid austerity measures.
The New School

Presidential townhouse
Located in the heart of the Greenwich Village, the president’s townhouse is worth an estimated $15 million.
Google Maps

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.

Srishti Yadav
Economist Srishti Yadav says the New School is losing touch with its progressive roots.

“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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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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