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Guide to the Parsons School of Design governance collection, 1912-2003

Collection Overview

Repository

Parsons Institutional Collections

Collection Identifier

PC.01.01.01

Creator

Parsons School of Design. Board of Trustees.

Creator

Parsons School of Design.

Title

Parsons School of Design governance collection, 1912-2003

Extent

1.5 linear ft: 1 box

Language of Materials

English

Summary

Prior to 1970, when Parsons School of Design existed as an independent entity, it was headed by a president and a powerful Board of Trustees. Upon the merger of Parsons with The New School, legal authority transferred to a central Board of Trustees for The New School and the Parsons board became a Board of Overseers. The collection includes minutes and reports from before and after the merger with The New School. Subjects frequently addressed include financial expenditures and development, institutional growth, department curriculum, student achievement, and implementation of new technologies.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Parsons School of Design governance collection, PC.01.01.01, box __, folder __, The New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Historical note

American artist William Merritt Chase established Parsons School of Design in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. While founded as a school of fine arts instruction, it soon added courses in applied arts, which became the primary focus under the direction of Frank Alvah Parsons. The name of the school changed several times, to the New York School of Art in 1902, then to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. In 1940, the Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to Parsons School of Design in recognition of Frank Alvah Parsons' leadership and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.

In 1921, Parsons School of Design's European School opened with headquarters in France called the Paris Ateliers. The Ateliers closed in 1939 due to the escalation of World War II, and never reopened in its pre-war form. Summer study tours of Europe resumed in the late 1940s. When Parsons School of Design affiliated with the New School for Social Research in 1970, students could for the first time earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New School. Before the merger, students earned either a certificate for a three-year program of study at Parsons, or a Bachelor of Science degree granted by New York University by taking courses at both schools.

A more robust, year-round overseas program resumed at Parsons in the late 1970s under the leadership of Dean David C. Levy. The 1970s also saw the growth of continuing education programs at Parsons, and the introduction of an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree track. In the 1980s, Parsons developed a number of partnerships with international schools, and launched a short-lived merger between Parsons School of Design and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. The first Parsons graduate program was established at Parsons in 1978, in Fine Arts, with masters programs in other areas added in subsequent years, including a Master of Architecture program begun in 1989. The 2000s saw an increase in the number of graduate programs at Parsons, with new programs introduced nearly every year.

Prior to 1970, when Parsons existed as an independent entity, it was headed by a president and a powerful Board of Trustees. Upon the merger of Parsons with The New School, legal authority transferred to a central Board of Trustees for The New School. The Parsons board became a Board of Overseers (later Visiting Committee and, as of 2017, Board of Governors). The position of Parsons president was also eliminated at the time of the merger, replaced by the dean, a position later renamed as executive dean.

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Scope and Content of Collection

The collection includes minutes and reports from before and after Parsons School of Design's 1970 merger with The New School. The first series, Board of Trustees, ends in 1969, just before the merger. The second series picks up in 1975, when Parsons' governing body was called the Board of Overseers. The reports and self-studies in the third series were prepared for state and national educational review organizations. Subjects frequently addressed include financial expenditures and development, institutional growth, department curriculum, student achievement, and implementation of new technologies. The minutes and accreditation reports comprising this group of records were compiled by archivists in The New School Archives in order to form a single collection for Parsons School of Design board minutes. The documents were brought together from disparate groups of records that had been transferred from the Parsons School of Design Dean's Office at various times.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 3 series. The second series follows the first chronologically. Reports in the third series come from both the pre- and post-merger periods.

  1. Board of Trustees minutes
  2. Board of Overseers minutes
  3. Accreditation reports

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Parsons Institutional Collections - December 8, 2017

66 5th Avenue
lobby
New York, New York
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Parsons School of Design governance collection, PC.01.01.01, box __, folder __, The New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from The New School Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Many of these files were transferred to the Kellen Archives Center (now The New School Archives and Special Collections) from Parsons School of Design Dean’s Office, probably in 2004 or 2005. Some of the minutes and reports herein may have come from the files of David C. Levy, who served as dean of Parsons School of Design from 1970 until 1980 and as executive dean from 1980-1989. Other records may have been drawn from the records of Parsons' presidents Francis Ruzicka and Sterling Callisen.

Processing Information note

The documents comprising this collection were brought together by The New School Archives from records transferred from the Parsons School of Design Dean's Office. The collection was formerly titled, "Parsons School of Design records of oversight collection."

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Related Materials

A number of collections in The New School Archives may be of interest to researchers investigating Parsons School of Design leadership and governance. These include: Parsons School of Design Office of the President records (PC.01.01.02); Parsons School of Design Office of the Executive Dean records [ONGOING] (PC.01.02.02); David C. Levy records (PC.01.04.01); Lesley Cadman records (PC.01.06.01); and Charles S. Olton records (PC.01.07.01).

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design (U.S.).
  • Parsons School of Design. Board of Overseers.

Subject(s)

  • Art schools -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Universities and colleges -- Administration.
  • Universities and colleges -- Trustees.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Board of Trustees minutes 1956-1974 

The series consists of meeting agendas, minutes, notices and associated materials provided to members of the Parsons School of Design Board of Trustees. Common topics in the minutes include curriculum, financial development, public relations and enrollment. Materials often include presentations and reports by the president, department chairs and directors of various administrative offices. The minutes are typewritten and unbound, and include a list of those present at each meeting.

Box Folder
1956-1958 
1 1
1959-1961 
1 2
1962-1963 
1 3
1964-1965 
1 4
1966-1967 
1 5
1968-1974 
1 6

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Series II. Board of Overseers minutes 1975-1988 

Meeting on a monthly basis, the Overseers were the central policymaking body of Parsons. The minutes in this series reflect board discussion on such topics as institutional growth, financial development, and student housing. Of particular interest are minutes that document planning sessions concerning the Fashion Design Department's move to Seventh Avenue and the establishment of Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in California. The minutes are typewritten in either narrative or outline form, and usually list the Overseers in attendance. Includes draft minutes when the minutes in their final form are not present, as well as reports, memoranda, agenda, and position papers, and minutes and reports of the Board's Education Committee. Additional documentation generated through the activities of the Board of Overseers will be found in the records of Dean David C. Levy (PC.01.04.01).

Box Folder
1975-1979 
1 7
1980-1983 
1 8
1984-1988 
1 9

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Series III. Accreditation reports 1912-2003 

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design and State of New York reports in this series include extensive descriptions of curriculum and detailed self-studies.

Box Folder
State Education Department, University of the State of New York, 1912-1935 

Includes printed New York State Education Department forms with typewritten responses and handwritten corrections. Until 1929, the forms are signed by Frank Alvah Parsons, "presiding officer." Following his death in 1930, the reports are signed by his successor as president, William Odom. The reports include statistics about student enrollment, fees, instructors, library holdings, and courses, as well as short narratives describing the school's philosophy and achievements.

1 10
State Education Department, University of the State of New York, 1983 

Prepared in anticipation of site visit by the State Education Department. Includes Parsons chapter from a Middle States Commission on Higher Education self-study as well as commentary and revisions to the 1981 report. Contains substantial documentation on the Photography and Clay/Fibers/Metals Departments. Supporting documentation in the David C. Levy records.

1 11-12
National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), 1991 

Includes a 167-page report with administrative, faculty and curricular statistics, tenure and other policies, and a Parsons Paris self-study.

1 13-16
National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), 2003 

Preparatory materials for this report will be found in the Parsons Office of Executive Dean records (PC.01.02.02).

1 17

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 01/30/2018

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