In the lobby of the converted department store that serves as the new home of the Graduate Faculty there is a bronze plaque that reflects the New School’s image of itself:
THE UNIVERSITY IN EXILE
THE GRADUATE FACULTY OF THE NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH
The Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science Had Its Genesis in the University in Exile Which Was Established by the New School for Social Research in 1933 as a Haven for Distinguished European Scholars Persecuted by Totalitarian Governments in Their Homelands. Conceived by Alvin Johnson, Then Director of the New School, and Sustained by the Generosity of Hiram J. Halle, the Rockefeller Family and Many Other Concerned Americans, the University in Exile Made It Possible Prior to and During World War II for One Hundred and Sixty Seven Imperilled Scholars and Their Families to Find Safety and Intellectual Freedom on These Shores. Its Example Was Followed by Other Educational Institutions Resulting in the Rescue of Many of Europe’s Foremost Thinkers and Leaders. Some Exiled Scholars Remained Here as the Nucleus of the Graduate Faculty Which Was Chartered by the University of the State of New York in 1934: Others Who Were Brought Over by the New School Went on to Teaching Positions at Other Universities Enriching the Fabric of Higher Learning in the United States.
This Plaque, Installed on the Occasion of the New School’s Fiftieth Anniversary, Is Dedicated to the Faculty Members and Friends of the University in Exile Who First Formed the Graduate Faculty and, During Its First Decade, Imbued It With Their Devotion to Truth and Human Liberty. They Constitute an Historic Chapter in American Higher Education.
Then follows, in raised bronze letters, the roster of the original faculty:
Solomon E. Asch
Fernando de los Rios
Horace M. Kallen
Abba P. Lerner
Boris Mirkine Guetzevitch
Alexander H. Pekelis
Erich Von Hornbostel
Ernst Karl Winter
The peculiar distinction of this faculty was in its European émigré origin and in its dedication to the canon of European, predominantly German, scholarship and deportment. But there is a contradiction latent in all such émigré groups: having fled persecution in their homelands, and having found a tolerable environment elsewhere, do they consequently evade all potentially embarrassing political involvement? Does their exile negate their engagement? This paradox is most sharply felt by those scholars who, rightly or wrongly, interpret the Western academic tradition as being necessarily nonpolitical. The academy is their fortress of principled neutrality: as individuals they may choose to take a political position…
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