A “WELCOME BACK” LIKE NO OTHER
August 30, 2021
Dear Pratt Community,
This may be the most anticipated “Welcome Back” letter ever.
This marks not only a return for many to our Brooklyn and Manhattan campuses, but also new beginnings with our new gallery in Pratt Manhattan, our research growth in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and our robust “digital campus.” This is also a very proud welcome back to New York City for those of you who were dispersed around the country and the world by the pandemic. And, it’s a warm welcome home, whether you’ve been missing the Pratt Institute you knew before the pandemic, or you are a first- or second-year student, or new faculty or staff member, who can’t wait to make Pratt your own. Welcome, all.
Of course, this “opening” has been made possible by your generous cooperation toward becoming a fully vaccinated Pratt. I am proud of what our community accomplished, preparing well in advance. By continuously being open to accepting the most effective interventions, you are taking care of your own life and the lives of so many around you. Your participation in this effort has made it possible for us to return to a Pratt that is as safe as possible for many of the in-person activities we have missed. Your continued care for one another’s health and safety will keep it so throughout the coming academic year.
I realize that we are still in a pandemic and the future remains uncertain, but one thing that I am certain of is that the Pratt community is resilient, smart, caring, and steps up to monumental tasks. This continues to be most evident in the hard work of faculty and staff who, after giving their all to make the previous academic year successful, have worked throughout the summer to prepare a safe and energetic learning environment for this coming academic year. This year we will launch a new BFA program in Game Arts, a new Master of Landscape Architecture, and a new minor in Black Studies, and we will continue ongoing efforts to diversify curriculum and identify our goals for global engagement through the American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Lab.
Over the past 18 months, Pratt’s administration and faculty have pivoted and shaped their plans to meet the trajectory of the pandemic and ensure operations have been clear and manageable, while remaining committed to academic excellence and resonant compassion. Our essential workers, in particular, have remained the welcoming stewards of our campuses and the pillars of our virtual and in-person operations. We are grateful to them, and to all of you.
This year, we also welcome two new vice presidents, an interim provost, and a chief of staff to Pratt’s senior leadership, all of whom bring considerable expertise with deep roots in Pratt and New York City. Donna Heiland, having served as vice provost for academic affairs since 2016, became Pratt’s interim provost on July 1. Rick Longo, after many years leading recruitment at several AICAD schools, has returned to Pratt, his alma mater and starting point of his career in admissions, to be our new vice president for enrollment management as of July 30. Delmy Lendof, most recently of New York University (NYU) Steinhardt School, joined Pratt Institute on August 23 as our new vice president for student affairs, and has already begun welcoming our new students to campus. Nicole Haas whom many of you know virtually from this past year as my chief of staff, and who brings years of civic relations experience from her previous leadership role at Brooklyn College, will finally be experiencing Pratt in person regularly.
With this new leadership and our return to our campuses, we as a community will once again be able to bring the best of our creativity and skills more fully to the pressing matters of our world locally and globally. From our founding in 1887, Pratt Institute has been known as a hands-on leader and industrious participant in our community and our world. As constructors, designers, creatives, researchers, and organizers, we thrive in practice-based environments, where we can be at the ready for collaboration, responsible invention, impact, and reflection. Our renewed proximity to one another and to our partners in Brooklyn and Manhattan, supported by new technologies and multiple modes of engagement, will open opportunities for all of us to experiment with increased bandwidth and energy. The virtual foothold we have gained combined with the very real places to which we are returning will help us know ever more keenly who we are as Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, in New York City, and in the world.
Please say hello to me when you see me crossing campus. I am very much looking forward to participating in your journey, from across the campus to the explorations in your work, events, and activities that will build the foundation of your education.
With gratitude and enthusiasm, I once again welcome all of you. I am so glad you’re here.