Tomato-Splattered Bob Kerrey Agrees to (Some) Student Demands

Earlier this month, the senior faculty of the New School passed a vote of "no confidence" in the school’s president Bob Kerrey. The faculty and students of the school have grown increasingly unhappy with the president’s management style, his handling of the school budget, and the recent departure of provost Joe Westphal. (During his tenure, which began in 2001, Mr. Kerrey has run through five provosts and 12 deans.)

On the school’s website, Mr. Kerrey posted this statement on December 11:

On Wednesday, December 10, after the announcement of Joe Westphal’s departure as provost, there was a faculty vote of "no confidence" in me. I, however, have confidence in them—and everyone who makes up the New School community. 

Mr. Kerrey went on to say that he would be meeting with the faculty and staff to discuss their concerns openly and will work with them to resolve the issues. But earlier this week, when Mr. Kerrey spoke with New York magazine, he said he had no idea what the problem even was exactly. 

"I didn’t even know about the vote. I still don’t know what they want me to do," he told the magazine. "They say I don’t understand higher education. To a certain extent it’s true I don’t understand. It’s baffling at times." (The latter statement some might find particularly troubling since Mr. Kerrey also happens to be an investor, along with Graydon Carter and John Leguizamo, of the Greenwich Village High School, founded by Vanity Fair deputy editor Amiee Bell.

But when asked if he believed his own job was in jeapordy, Mr. Kerrey responded, "It’s not even close to a crisis."

This morning, City Room reported that students, who had occupied the school’s dining hall on Thursday to protest Mr. Kerrey’s leadership, ended their sit-in around 3:30a.m. this morning after the president agreed to meet some of their demands. Mr. Kerrey (who was chased down Fifth avenue yesterday morning and was targeted with lunged tomatoes) agreed to give amnesty to the student protesters; to give students a say in the appointment of a new provost; to find a replacement for the library that will be lost with the closing of 65 Fifth Avenue; and to create a committee on Socially Responsible Giving to for the school’s endowment.

The students were originally calling for Mr. Kerrey’s resignation, but eventually agreed to the terms presented to them after realizing that their initial demands would not be met. 


Tomato-Splattered Bob Kerrey Agrees to (Some) Student Demands