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  Nebraska Liberal, New York Reactionary
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Parent(s) Candidate 
ContributorJason 
Last EditedJason  Jul 19, 2009 04:47am
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CategoryOpinion
AuthorBARI WEISS
MediaNewspaper - Wall Street Journal
News DateSaturday, July 18, 2009 08:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionYou can't help but notice the combination of photographs on Bob Kerrey's windowsill: a signed picture of Al Franken laughing at a campaign rally, a shot of Daniel Patrick Moynihan smiling in the Senate Office Building, and a black-and-white photo of Hannah Arendt presiding over a seminar. This intersection -- between politics and the perhaps even more rarified world of academia -- is where Mr. Kerrey has found himself over the past eight years since he left the Senate to become president of the New School.

Straddling disparate worlds, never quite fitting in, is something Bob Kerrey seems to revel in. ("I've gone from Nebraska, where people thought I was a liberal, to New York, where people think I'm a right-wing nutcase," he said in 2003 when the war in Iraq began.) And so in theory, the university in Greenwich Village seemed like a perfect fit for a man who's at turns described as contrarian, free-thinking, and, yes, a maverick.

The New School's animating spirit is contrarian: It was founded in 1919 in part by several Columbia professors who were fired when they refused to take loyalty oaths. When Hitler came to power in the 1930s, the school became a haven for European Jewish refugees like Arendt and Leo Strauss, who created its graduate program, originally called the University in Exile.

The past eight years with Mr. Kerrey at the helm have certainly had their successes. As he puts it: "We've really changed the nature of the university from a holding company with eight divisions into a real university." The endowment has grown to $180 million from $90 million in 2001 (after reaching a peak of $232 million last September), the number of full-time faculty has doubled to 351, and the students "are more talented, and more capable than they were eight years ago," he says.
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