Marvin Krislov

Colleagues, students, friends—when we met for the State of the University one year
ago, I outlined an optimistic future for Pace. We’d been working hard, rethinking how we
did things, and getting ready to charge ahead. I announced 15 Beekman, our new tower
in lower Manhattan. I talked about our Pleasantville Plan, to build a sustainable model
for that campus. I outlined the powerful new vision for the Elisabeth Haub School of
Law, under the leadership of Dean Horace Anderson.
And then, just weeks later, the pandemic arrived and upended all our plans.
Like everyone else, we were forced to quickly shift to remote life. Students had to leave
residence halls. Faculty had to learn to teach remotely. Staff had to scramble to keep
the University running. It was a remarkable effort, and I commend everyone who moved
so quickly and adapted so well—especially those essential workers who kept coming to
our campuses every day. The effort and commitment from everyone has been
But, still, it has been a hard year. Hard for all of us as individuals. Hard for our country
and our world. And hard for Pace University as an institution.
Yet in spite of that—in fact because of all of that—I stand here today just as optimistic
about our future as I was a year ago, if not more so.
Because what I’ve seen through this year of pandemic—and what I think we’ve all
seen—is that the state of Pace University is very, very strong.
Why do I say that?
For three reasons. Because of our people. Because of the new plans we’re developing.
And because of our renewed and redoubled commitment to diversity, equity, and
inclusion—a commitment that is and will be built into everything we do.
First, our people.
I’ve always known that the people of Pace are tough—ambitious, hard-working,
dedicated, and resilient. This year, perhaps more than any other, we proved it.
We didn’t give up. We didn’t give in. Some members of our community dealt with truly
terrible situations—sickness, lost work, loneliness, even the loss of loved ones. We
mourned the losses, we supported each other—and, most important, we kept working to
meet our goals.
Faculty, you had to pivot in the space of days to entirely new ways of teaching. You
were there to support your students, who were going through their own challenges. And
you did that while dealing with enormous new obligations in your own lives. You’ve
shown your commitment to Pace and to our students. Thank you.
Staff and administrators, you kept this University operating. Members of our Covid task
force have been meeting nearly every morning for close to a year to make the decisions
that guide our response to pandemic. People in Residential Life, in Advising, in Student
Accounts, in so many other offices have gone above and beyond to keep our students
engaged and on track. Health and Safety, and Security, and Facilities, and Ed Media,
and the people who pick up mail and deposit checks and deliver care packages—you
have all kept doing their important jobs, on campus and in person. To everyone who did
the work to keep Pace up and running, thank you.
Most important, our students. You know the importance of working toward your degree,
and you kept at it. Some of you did it from home instead of on campus. Some of you
couldn’t learn from home and found other work and study spaces.
Some of you faced barriers to travel, some of you faced financial hardship, some of you
tested positive and had to be isolated. But you kept working, and you kept learning.
Thank you for your commitment to your education.
Finally, to our trustees who guided us wisely, to the engaged alumni who maintained
their support and friendship, to the senior leadership who confronted each new
challenge, to the indefatigable members of the FROG—and I think you’ll always be the
fall reopening group, no matter what season it is—to everyone at Pace: thank you.
The second reason I’m optimistic is because of the plans we’re developing.
We are all ready to move forward, past this pandemic. But we also know the world has
changed in the last year. We have changed. Higher education has changed. And that
means Pace must change.
Right now, we are building an ambitious new strategic plan to do that.
At its base, the strategic planning process we are engaged in—led by our Strategic
Planning Steering Committee, involving stakeholders from across our University, and
assisted by our partners at the Boston Consulting Group—is an effort to take a fresh
look at what we do and how we do it. Our goal is to shift our focus to the world around
us, to respond to what students are looking for and what employers need from
graduates, and to recognize changing patterns and align ourselves to best respond to
them. That has always been what we do.
Pace gives our hard-working, ambitious students the
tools they need to succeed in the world—in their careers and in their lives.
What we need to do now is understand our changing marketplace, respond to today’s
demands from students and from employers, and embrace the profound changes in
higher education over the past year. Demographic changes are accelerating. Online
and remote education is a reality. There is more and more demand for flexible and
customizable options, for giving students what they need when they need it in the way
they want it.
That is Pace’s heritage. It’s our mission. We have always been focused on meeting the
real needs of our students. Now we must make the hard decisions that will let us focus
our effort and investment on where and how we can best keep doing that.
The research we’ve done is clear. Pace’s mission of Opportunitas is strong and
powerful. We create opportunities for our students, and we do it for all of our students,
regardless of where they come from, who their parents are, or how much money they
have. Our mission is distinctive in the market, and it resonates. We must do what is
necessary to keep that mission alive.
The good news is that the challenges of the past year demonstrate that we can do this.
We can change how we work. We can react to new realities. We can work together, and
we can make sure that our University continues to thrive.
You’ve heard a lot about the strategic planning process from the chairs of the Steering Committee, vice president Jean Gallagher and professor Matt Marcello, and from many others involved with the process. You know that we’ve analyzed data, and you know that we’re now looking to our community to figure out our important next steps. This will be a multiyear process, and it will be an iterative one. It is important, so we need to get right.
Right now we’re building the school- and college-based teams that will drive this work,
working within our governance structures and the structures of each school or college.
Talk to your leadership, and get involved. We want to hear from everyone. Adjunct faculty, we want you involved. Students, and
administrative staff, we want you to be involved, too. The right time for your involvement
might be now, or it might be in another phase down the road. The steering committee
includes representatives of the faculty councils, the administrative staff councils, and the
school and college faculty councils, as well as student representatives. Talk to
them—they’re all listed at strategic plan. Find out how you can help.
What I know is that as a result of this work, we are going to end up with a plan for a
Pace that leverages all we’ve accomplished in the last year. Our four- and six-year
graduation rates reached new highs with our recent graduating class, and we will
continue to drive up our graduation rates, our retention rates, and our reputation.
We will build a Pace that is strong and vibrant, forward- thinking and community-minded, and able to do what we’ve always done—prepare our students to solve the problems of the world.
Finally, I’m optimistic about the future of Pace because I know that we’re building a
University where everyone is included, where everyone is valued, and where we
recognize the unique talents and contributions of everyone in our community.
Throughout the last year we witnessed—rather, we continued to witness—unarmed
Black Americans killed by police officers. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out
for a jog. Breonna Taylor was shot and killed while asleep in her apartment. We
watched on video as the life was snuffed out of George Floyd by a police officer driving
his knee into Floyd’s neck.
Just ten years ago, this heartbreaking reality came to Pace, too. Our student DJ Henry
was killed by a Pleasantville police officer while out with his friends after a Homecoming
football game.
This summer, our nation was shocked into action. Protests against police brutality
sprung up across the country, by some counts the largest protests in our nation’s
history. We all became aware—more aware—of the systemic racism that lingers in our
society. We became aware that we need to do better.
At Pace, we made a commitment to become a truly anti-racist institution. And we are
today deeply committed to transforming our institutional climate and establishing
practices to support the change we want to see. We established a Presidential Task
Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which is still at work. It has submitted some initial
recommendations, including a move toward clear and universally used language around
these issues, so that we all know what we mean and mean what we say. The Task
Force gave us guidance on our approach to annual awareness education for all
community members. And I look forward to additional recommendations to come.
We are establishing partnerships with organizations including the National Urban
League, the NAACP, and the National Council for Faculty Development in Diversity.
This will help us to be a workplace of choice, committed to the full development and
well-being of all of our students, faculty, and staff. We have completed a campus Climate Survey. And later this month, Chief Diversity Officer Tiffany Hamilton will engage the community in a campus conversation to discuss the findings of that survey, and the work in progress, as we work to achieve our commitments to inclusion, access, justice and diversity.
We will integrate findings of that Climate Survey—and the full recommendations of the
Task Force—into the strategic planning process. This will ensure that this crucial work is
built into everything we do, not an isolated project siloed from the rest of what we do as
a University.
To make sure we live up to that commitment, I’m very pleased to announce a major new
initiative today. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of Trustee Barry Gosin, we will
immediately be launching the Barry M. and Jackie Gosin Center for Equity and Inclusion
at Pace University.
This Center will serve as a hub for our work on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The
goals of the Gosin Center include developing new courses that advance our DEI
priorities and developing meaningful new programming, research projects, and
partnerships to be administered by the Center. We will increase retention and
graduation rates for students of color and increase scholarships available and awarded
to students of color. We will help to diversify our faculty through increased hiring of BIPOC scholars. And, true to Pace’s mission of Opportunitas, the Gosin Center will
work to increase participation by students of color in our entrepreneurship programs and
increase job placement rates and starting salaries for students of color.
These are ambitious goals. But they match our ambitions in this essential effort.
There is much work ahead. But this is a start. We’re committed to doing what is both right and necessary.
​And I know that we will.
Today is about moving Pace forward. But I also want to spend some time talking about
where we’ve been. I know it can feel like life has been on pause for eleven months. But
the truth is that we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in the past year.
Colleges and universities nationwide suffered significant enrollment drops and budget
shortfalls because of the pandemic. But thanks to our committed students, our
dedicated faculty and staff, and responsible management of our resources, we’re in
pretty good shape.
Enrollment is down, just a bit, but nowhere near the 20 percent decline experts were
forecasting. In fact, we’ve seen a number of new students who deferred their
acceptance for the fall semester choose to enroll this spring. That has given us the
biggest group of new spring-semester first-year students we’ve seen in at least 14
years, and probably a lot longer. Housing revenue, on the other hand, has been less good. But because we were responsible about managing costs in anticipation of that downturn—in ways I know were hard for our staff and faculty—our budget is in far better shape than we anticipated.
Last spring, we graduated 2,224 students—undergraduates, graduate students, and at
Haub Law—despite the pandemic, in a series of virtual ceremonies that were very
well-received by students and their families.
Over the summer, nearly 2,200 new students went through virtual Orientation. And
close to 700 faculty members signed up for training to learn how to maximize the
possibilities of virtual instruction, rather than simply delivering the same classroom
experience via Zoom.
When we came back for the fall, 308 students from states beyond the metro area
quarantined for 14 days in hotel rooms, and when we came back for the spring, 342 did
it again.
In the fall semester, we processed nearly 10,000 Covid tests through our community
testing program. So far this spring, we’ve processed another 5,000 and counting. When
we had to quarantine Alumni Hall in Pleasantville because of several positive cases
there, students followed the rules and did what they had to. And when we later had to
quarantine Dannet Hall at Haub Law, students there did the same.
In fact, one of my favorite observations on the year came from Emily Teixiera, a writer
for The Pace Chronicle who was living in Alumni Hall and reported for the paper from
inside the quarantine. She wrote: “While sitting in my dorm all day is not the college
experience, it is still a college experience. Being here is still something.” That is the
Pace spirit.
We hosted 224, 714 Pace Zoom meetings since March of last year, with participants
connecting from 168 countries and logging a total of 131, 879, 669 meeting minutes.
We ordered and distributed 228 gallons of hand sanitizer, installed 2,965 new air filters,
went through 610 canisters of disinfecting wipes, and—I kid you not—posted 2 million
square feet of new directional signage.
And, as we always do, we looked out for each other. Through the 2019-2020 academic
year, our Pace Cares fund, which provides emergency assistance to students in urgent
need, awarded $621,000 to 890 students, helping them pay rent, buy food, or cover
tuition in the face of lost income. We were able to give so much because so many
donated to Pace Cares—administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.
When in-person activities were canceled last spring, the New York City and
Pleasantville student government associations voted to redirect unused student fees to
Pace Cares, because they wanted to help those who needed it most.
In fact, I want to tell a quick story of a Pace student who went that extra mile. Hundreds
of students, faculty, and alumni at the College of Health Professions raced to the front
lines when the pandemic hit, helping to care for Covid patients. One nursing
student—Dana Umbro, who graduated in December and takes her RN exam next
month—found another way to help. She and a high school friend co-founded Code
Frontline and delivered thousands of care packages, with personal hygiene items and
healthy snacks, to overburdened frontline heroes. That’s just one story. But I know people all across our University went to extraordinary lengths to help others, to support family, and even just to continue their education. They all, like Dana, deserve our admiration and appreciation.
Finally, through all this, I can’t ignore all of the wonderful, perfectly normal things we
successfully accomplished at Pace this year.
Faculty won grants. Students won awards. Residential Life and Housing staff I think
have barely slept, tending to their own pandemic challenges while taking such good
care of so many of our students.
Our student athletes were forced to stop competing during the pandemic, but the
Athletics staff has been an invaluable resource across the University, assisting with
health measures and testing initiatives.
The Enrollment Management team took on each new challenge before them. They
worked to bring international students safely back to campus despite travel restrictions and visa issues. They helped new students find their way to Pace even without high
school visits or campus tours.
At the end of October, we hosted our first Social Justice Week of programming, in honor
of DJ Henry’s memory. A group of students, faculty, staff and alumni organized more
than four dozen events across our three campuses, in what will be an annual series that
will educate and empower all of us.
Two dynamic new deans joined us mid-pandemic. Tresmaine Grimes is bringing new
vision and leadership to Dyson College and the School of Education. Larry Singleton is
ably steering the Lubin School through a rapidly changing time for business education.
We’re thrilled to have both of them here at Pace.
Led by Mary Baglivo and her team in University Relations, we launched this terrific new
brand platform and identity. We now have a fresh and forward-looking new face to show
the world. A new and up-to-date website is coming this spring, and new marketing
materials and advertising are on their way.
The Elisabeth Haub School of Law is firing on all cylinders. Enrollment is way up, and applications for next year are trending even higher. They’ve maintained their reputation as one of the world’s leading centers for environmental law. And in this tumultuous year
they’ve rededicated themselves to their social justice mission.
We know distance education is going to be a key part of our future, and enrollment in
our fully online programs is approaching 400 students, including 93 students in new
programs launched last fall. The online MBA in Lubin has been a big success, enrolling
65 new students, more than twice our target. By the end of the summer, we think we’ll
have 100.
The Pace Online team has more than a dozen new programs in development. And as
part of our latest One Pace Plaza renovations, we’ll create a new digital media
workspace where faculty can collaborate with instructional-design and digital-media
experts to build high-quality digital learning experiences. That is part of the overhaul of
the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors of One Pace Plaza West that we were forced to
reschedule from last summer. The work is getting underway now, with construction starting March 1. And it will provide brand-new spaces for Lubin, new classrooms outfitted with the latest technology, and a new home for the Entrepreneurship Lab. We moved the Psychology Department and McShane Counseling Center to a new home at 52 Broadway, and we’re building new offices for the Dyson Publishing Program in 163 William Street. A new space for Actors Studio Drama School in 41 Park Row will be ready by early March.
I’m very happy to say that we’re moving ahead as planned with the new building at 15
Beekman. Our development partners at SL Green are building us a new tower that will
essentially replace the east side of One Pace Plaza.
We’ll have a modern residence hall, a new library, state-of-the-art classrooms and
community space, an up-to-date dining facility, and a new home for the Seidenberg
School. It will be ready for Fall semester, 2023.
And at the same time, we’re also shrinking our real estate footprint, to make sure we’re
smart about how we’re spending money. We closed the Midtown Center. We’re
consolidating leases downtown. And we’re rethinking space use at Haub Law.
Finally, I can report some really extraordinary news from our Office of Development and
Alumni Relations. This could have been a rough year for fundraising. Money was tight for everyone. We were forced to cancel our annual headline events. But Gary Laermer and his team, working together with partners across the University, managed to produce some
remarkable results. In the last fiscal year, about half of it during the pandemic, we
managed to raise nearly as much as the previous year—and more than the year before
that. That included $6 million last year for student scholarships.
In the past year, we brought in major new donors. The Andrew Mellon Foundation is
supporting our new Storytelling for Equity and Inclusion Fellowship. The Edmond de
Rothschild Foundation is supporting our new Assistant Deanship for Diversity and
Equity in the Arts. Trustee Barry Gosin made his transformative donation for the Gosin
Center. And Trustee Rob Sands, via his family foundation and together with his
company, made a substantial donation to the Food and Beverage Law Clinic at Haub
We also launched the New York Resilience Internships this year. This is a funded
internship program that ensures our students have access to essential career prep
opportunities even through the pandemic, while at the same time aiding the community
organizations that are helping our region to rebuild. We raised $350,000 to support
those internships over the summer, with another $225,000 already committed for
forthcoming spring internships. So far, we have supported 70 students with Resilience
These fundraising commitments are of course good news because they help support
what we do. But they’re also good news because they show that our donors—our
trustees, our partners, our friends—believe in our mission and believe in our work.
These donors, like me, see a bright future for this University.
The bottom line today is that, as tough as things might seem, we’re in a very good
Across the country, and certainly here at Pace, we’re through the worst. Positivity rates,
which exploded through the winter, are on a steep decline. Vaccines are here, and
capacity is expanding. We fully expect the Fall 2021 semester will look pretty close to a
normal fall semester.
As our region and country rebuild, higher education will be critical. What we do makes a difference. We provide the ideas, the talent, and the people who change the world and
move us forward. This last year has taught us to be creative, to experiment, to make
things work when we need to make them work.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy promised to send Americans to the moon not
because it was easy, he said, but because it was hard. Because it was a goal that
would, quote, “serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”
This last year was hard. It has brought out the best of our energies and skills. Now it is
time for our moonshot: To come through this last year not weakened but stronger. To
value our people and lift everyone up. To join together, focus our energies, and build a
Pace for the next century.
We will do it. Together, we will move Pace forward.
Thank you.