Dwight A. McBride Named First Black President of The New School in New York

A CENTURY AFTER ITS FOUNDING, the New School has appointed its first black president and the first person of color to lead the institution. Dwight A. McBride will serve as the ninth president of the New School, which regards itself as a nexus for scholars, artists, and designers. Established in 1919, the New York City school includes several colleges, Parsons School of Design, the New School for Social Research, and the College of Performing Arts, which encompasses the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, among them. The news was announced Oct. 11.

A distinguished scholar, author, and academic administrator, McBride is currently serving as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of African American Studies, a distinguished affiliated professor of English, and associated faculty in women’s, gender, and sexuality Studies at Emory. His tenure at the New School begins in Spring 2020.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Dwight to The New School,” Joseph R. Gromek, chair of the board of trustees and co-chair of the presidential search committee, said in a statement.

“Dwight is a phenomenal leader, a builder of complex programs, an academic, and a scholar who has a great appreciation for our mission, values and goals. His exceptional experience embodies a commitment to all aspects of academic excellence and demonstrates his dedication to ensuring students are at the center of higher education’s mission. As The New School marks its Centennial and we look forward to the next one hundred years, he is clearly the right leader for this university at this extraordinary moment in its history.”

“As The New School marks its centennial and we look forward to the next 100 years, [Dwight A. McBride] is clearly the right leader for this university at this extraordinary moment in its history.” — Joseph R. Gromek

MCBRIDE BRINGS a wealth of leadership experience to the New School. He has been serving as Emory University’s chief academic officer since July 2017. Nine schools and colleges fall under the purview of the Office of the Provost, including Emory College of Arts & Sciences, the university’s schools of business, law, medicine, and theology, and its libraries and museum.

Prior to his tenure at Emory, McBride was at Northwestern University where he served as graduate school dean, associate provost for graduate education, and a professor of African American studies, English, and performance studies. Previous academic appointments include dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

McBride’s research and teaching interests center around American and African American literature, and the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality studies.

He has published several books. A scholar of James Baldwin, McBride is the editor of “James Baldwin Now” (1999), a volume of writings examining Baldwin’s complex vision. He is also co-founder and co-editor of the James Baldwin Review. Published annually, the interdisciplinary journal explores the life, work, and legacy of Baldwin.

McBride is also co-editor of “Plum Nelly: New Essays in Black Queer Studies” (2000), a special issue of Callaloo: A Journal of African-American and African Arts and Letters; co-editor of The New Black Studies Series, a series of books published by the University of Illinois Press; and his current project is a forthcoming book about Phillis Wheatley and her critics.

McBride earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and African American studies from Princeton University and holds a masters and Ph.D., in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A trustee of The Cooper Union, he’s also a jazz singer who served as a research assistant to Toni Morrison during his time as an undergraduate at Princeton.

 


In a message to The New School Community, president-elect Dwight A. McBride discusses the attributes that drew him to the institution, his experiences, and leadership priorities. | Video by The New School

 

THE NEW SCHOOL serves more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students. A spokesperson for the institution told Culture Type the school is “one of the most international in the country with approximately 34 percent of students joining from outside the United States,” but declined to share a demographic breakdown of the student population, including representation by race.

Notable New School alumni include Baldwin and Harry Belafonte; artists Nina Chanel Abney, Ai Weiwei, Jasper Johns, Richard Avedon, and Norman Rockwell; fashion designers Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Jenna Lyons, Jason Wu, and Alexander Wang; and interior designer Sheila Bridges.

McBride said he is thrilled to leading The New School. “This is a place that values academic and scholarly rigor, creative thinking and practice, design thinking, and collaborative learning. As it says in our mission statement, The New School prepares students to understand, contribute to, and succeed in a rapidly changing society, thus making thew world a better and more just place,” he said in a video message to the campus community.

He talked about inclusion: “The New School is a storied, unique, and distinguished institution in the landscape of higher education with a proud and distinguished history of progressive teaching and research, a commitment to social impact and innovation, and an unwavering commitment to a culture of inclusion.”

And also emphasized his personal perspectives: “I have always had a profound belief in the power of higher education to quite literally transform lives and throughout my career I have been a passionate and proactive advocate for creating environments that truly foster inclusive excellence.”

McBride said during the selection process he had fallen in love with The New School. The president-elect also said he was “deeply honored” to accept the position, calling the New School a “wonderful institution” and New York a “great city.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Dwight A. McBride. | Photo by Emily Looney

 

BOOKSHELF
Dwight A. McBride authored “Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch: Essays on Race and Sexuality” (2005), a collection of cultural criticism nominated for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award and the 2006 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. He also co-edited “Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction” (2011), which was recognized with the Lambda Literary Award for best fiction anthology. McBride’s other works include “Impossible Witnesses: Truth, Abolitionism, and Slave Testimony.” Most recently, he co-edited the posthumous books of two colleagues: Lindon Barrett’s “Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity” and Vincent Woodard’s “The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture.”