Rally Today for Terminated Parsons Teachers


Photo by Janice Faber.

Another demonstration is planned at the embattled New School’s Administration Building at 66 West 12th Street at noon today; this one, however, is organized not by student occupiers, but by faculty to protest the recent staff cuts at the Parsons fine arts department, which is a New School affiliate. (Update: Rally coverage here.)

For those of you who missed it, the New School — whose president, Bob Kerrey, received an overwhelming vote of no-confidence from the school’s faculty back in December — sent emails last month to twelve adjunct members of Parson’s art department, informing them they would not be “reappointed to teach” in the fall, or that they will not be offered art courses due to curriculum changes. The emails ended like this: “We thank you for your work with us at the New School and wish you well in your future endeavors.”

Of the 42 instructors in the department, 39 are adjuncts or part-time. One instructor, Dale Emmart, who was informed there were no art classes for her, has been at the school for 22 years.

Today’s rally is organized by two part-time professors, Laurence Hegarty and Peter Drake (pictured), who have also started a blog called Parsons Pink Slips.

Though neither professor’s job is currently threatened, Hegarty said his involvement was a symbol of solidarity.

“We’re outraged that they are trying to do this because our esteemed colleagues have excellent histories has teachers and artists,” said Hegarty. “We are outraged because we realize we are next.”

Yesterday Tim Marshall*, the New School Provost, released a memo apologizing for the lack of communication and spelling out that all faculty who were not given courses in the fine arts department would be offered “alternate teaching assignments appropriate with their expertise,” and that the school will “make every effort” to offer teaching assignments to the others who had been there less than eleven semesters.

“This intention was not made clear in the original memo that was sent out, which followed a more standardized protocol. We should have personally engaged the faculty about these pending changes. I want to offer my sincere apologies for these shortcomings and the discord it has caused.”

Too little too late, says Hegarty. “What they’ve done is a public apology, but what they need to do is ‘un-fire’ the non-rehired people.”

*Update: Name corrected from earlier version.