A Message from the Provost
Dear Graduate Center community,
Welcome to the fall 2021 semester. I am thrilled to be joining you this year and look forward to getting to know each of you. To those of you who are returning and to those of you who are new to the Graduate Center, thank you for the commitment you’ve shown in confronting the many academic and institutional challenges created by the pandemic.
Accelerated transformations are ubiquitous in almost every field of intellectual inquiry today, with profound effects on human understanding, quality of life, and the ways in which we interact with the world and the people around us. It is easy to see parallels to the Darwinian Revolution, probably the most significant transformation of thought in the sciences influencing every branch of knowledge and leading to a rethinking of the nature of the world and our role in it.
Higher education is entering a new period of transformation that brings fresh opportunities to rethink old assumptions and pursue new opportunities for intellectual integration. It is a revolution of ideas shaped by massive social and economic challenges, rapid technological innovation, and a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of the human experience. To address such change and challenge, we, as educators and researchers, must break habits of mind and entertain possibilities we didn’t even realize we were excluding.
For me there are three essential qualities that should be actively encouraged to enable an inclusive graduate-level learning environment — diversity, innovation, and integration.
Engaging diversity and difference is an institutional value that helps all of us imagine and develop the most creative ideas that shape and transform our communities into healthier, more just, and more inclusive places with diverse expressions of the human experience.
For too long our society has ignored the pain experienced by minority communities across our nation and in our local regions. That dynamic has changed dramatically, and we now have an opportunity and a responsibility to take substantive action. I hope to partner with you this year in the Graduate Center’s commitment to continuing the complicated work of examining these issues, acknowledging racism and privilege when identified within our institutional systems, and taking actions that lead to structural change.
The Graduate Center is built on an intellectual foundation of innovative thinking. Innovation is essential to staying relevant amid societal and technological change. Pursuing novel ideas and approaches and jettisoning outdated methods and assumptions can yield needed progress. I am encouraged by the innovation I observe in every discipline at the Graduate Center and hope to further promote discovery and inventiveness in my time here.
Integration of knowledge is the best way to prepare students for meaningful careers. Integration is not only the ability to make new connections, but also to find new ways in which traditional knowledge carries new meaning for our lives and allows us to be agents of social transformation. Today’s kinetic intersections of humanistic inquiry, scientific investigation, radical new artistic expressions, and active community participation offer new possibilities for scholarly and creative endeavors.
What excites me about joining the Graduate Center community is the opportunity to support the excellent work of helping students develop critical insights in and make connections among the various disciplines of thought they encounter. Traditional fields of knowledge confer clear identity and promote the development of important insights and skills. These fields should continually be supported, refined, and envisioned anew. By merging discreet forms of knowledge into an interrelated and integrated whole, we can provide a deep, contextual understanding that can serve as an invaluable asset for our students’ lives. This is a key challenge and goal for us as educators.
In my brief time at the Graduate Center, I have observed a community that strives toward an ethically engaged synthesis of analysis, creativity, and action that ultimately reshapes communities through expanded types of knowledge and fosters more just and inclusive forms of human interaction.
I am honored to be a part of such a remarkable and caring community of scholars. I look forward to meeting each of you and learning more about your aspirations for the Graduate Center and how I may best support you in achieving those. Let me extend to each of you best wishes for a healthy and productive 2021–22 academic year.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Submitted on: SEP 13, 2021
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