The Pace Press speaks with President Krislov ahead of State of the University


Alexandra Puga, Executive Editor

The Pace Press’ Executive Editor Alexandra Puga sat down with President Marvin Krislov for an interview on Zoom before his annual State of the University address on Feb. 10.

This year’s focus of the State of the University is “Pace Forward,” and will discuss what the University has accomplished, what the future will look like and their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Alexandra Puga: You came to the University in 2017. How did COVID-19 impact the changes you wanted to implement during your time as president? Where does the University need to go? 

Marvin Krislov: Wow, that’s a great question. We are still thinking about where we need to go. Obviously what has happened in the last year has changed a lot of the ways we live and work, especially in terms of the direction of Pace and higher education. We had to think about the positives of technology and the limitations of being virtual. In the near future, we hope that our public health and medical situation will allow us to be fully in person.

I think that what we started before the pandemic, which was a plan to provide some selected programs remotely, is going to continue, specifically for graduate students. It’s really consistent with what Pace has done for many years for working adults or traditional students who are balancing education and work. 

The pandemic also made us think about our model and making it financially sustainable. We did have to spend money on health and safety and we are really trying to make sure we are stewarding the institution responsibly and thinking about where the opportunities are.

I would say that the pandemic has created opportunities, not just regarding technology in general. Pace is always trying to keep up with the market and know where the jobs are. We are looking at a lot of programs that will respond to what is happening out there. Students, staff and faculty have been able to do incredible things with technology, so we are going to take away those positives from this period.

Pace is also always committed to diversity and equity. Recent events have highlighted the importance of that, and that’s something we’re really focused on. We have a wonderful Chief Diversity Officer who has been brought on board relatively recently, and I think it’s something the institution really needs to embrace. 

AP: What are you most proud of and what is something you would have done differently about COVID-19 on campus?

MK: I am really proud of the community’s response and I am super proud of the students who have taken it so seriously. It has been a big change in the way we’ve asked people to behave socially and our students have really stepped up. I am really proud of them. 

I am also proud of the staff who pivoted really quickly in March 2020 and used the summer of 2020 to rethink what we do. Students came back this fall and everyone stepped up to work together well and I think the administration and faculty team that were responsible for thinking about the reopening did an amazing job. It’s really important that we take those positives and community efforts to move forward.

One of my messages in the SOTU is that we have to keep it up because we are not out of this thing yet and we need to take social distancing, masking and all those things very seriously. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but we just can’t get too excited and forget that we still have work to do. For the most part, we went through this successfully and I’m very hopeful we can draw on those lessons to help us go forward. 

AP: Can you provide a brief overview of the past year’s accomplishments? What do you think is your biggest accomplishment at the University thus far?

MK: That’s a really tough question. I think of my accomplishments as everyone’s accomplishments so I’m just really proud of everybody… maybe that sounds corny. We’ve dealt with a really tough situation extremely well and I’ve been blessed by great colleagues, faculty, staff and students. The spirit at Pace is extraordinarily positive and resilient and I think that what we were able to do this year was to draw on that and get through it really well.

I teach, as you know, including UNV 101, and I think really focusing on student success and student outcomes has been one of my…I’m hesitant to call it my accomplishments… but it’s what I’ve really focused on, like implementing the CARES Act entirely for student aid, and I think we’ve managed to do that well despite all the obstacles.

Another thing I’m really proud of is how we managed and created a strong team in a way that hasnt happened before. The deans and other members of my leadership team were having really good discussions and working well, and thats good.

I also think we expanded our outreach. Pace has always been an institution that has been connected to the outside world. Other educational institutions are more insular and one of the things I really liked and appealed to me about Pace, in addition to the students, was the fact that there was this connection. The world of work is part of the way we think about the educational experience through the Pace Path as well as internships, extracurriculars, clinicals and so forth.

What I think I’ve been able to do with the help of others is to expand, like partnerships with Gilder Lehrman, Trinity Church, Wall Street and some organizations in Westchester. Pace is getting out there and creating opportunities with students and faculty. I think people are getting to know us and there is more reaching out to alumni.

Our communications team has really helped to shine a light on all the good that Pace has done. Social media has been part of it—it’s challenging and hard to navigate. We have one particular staffer who is incredibly good at keeping us abreast on social media and keeping our messages out there and let people know what we are up to. 

AP: Can you tell me about the process of creating the new logo that students had a lot to say about?

MK: Oh really? They didn’t like it?

AP: Did anyone on the social media team tell you about the over 600 comments on the Instagram post? 

MK: No, I haven’t heard that. Are they not positive?

AP: Well, I wasn’t sure if you knew about the opinions of the students.

MK: You know, we did have focus groups and students were involved. There’s more than just the logo… there’s a whole approach that will be revealed in pieces. There’s more coming, like the Go Getters rollout piece. We had a company that did a lot of work, including talking to alumni, faculty, staff and students to try to get a sense of what people believed in. Students were given lots of choices and were included in this process and they reacted positively, at least that’s what I was told. 

AP: How did you feel about the mixed reactions from students regarding the logo?

MK: We’ve heard really positive things from a lot of people and I hope people will embrace it. Sometimes it just takes a while to get used to things that are new. We needed to move on [from the old logo]. If we need to tweak something we can think about that too. We’ll see, let’s give it a shot.

AP: What are you prioritizing for the Master Plan right now?

MK: There are a few things going on right now. For one, the Beekman construction is underway. Over the summer, work will be done on floors four, five and six [of One Pace Plaza] for Lubin. Technology will be upgraded there for classrooms and remote learning which is part of the second phase that was postponed due to the pandemic. Those are the big things on the New York campus. 

AP: What about Maria’s Tower?

MK: We have been exploring what we are going to do with One Pace Plaza East. That could (and probably will) involve knocking down that part of the facilities. The timeline is up in the air, there are no plans right now. The pandemic has shifted a lot of things. 

AP: Can you clarify the Strategic Plan and what it will mean for students?

MK: We are looking at everything from student experience to what we should be doing in terms of offerings. I’m not sure that a lot of the outcomes will change in the short run, but the long-term goal is to make the student experience better and improve by strengthening the way we organize and doing more interdisciplinary work.

The faculty controls this, but one of the goals is to build out an interdisciplinary, both within colleges and between colleges. You might see more programs between Seidenberg and Lubin for example, as well as between departments in Dyson, but not everything is going to happen right away.

There is a component of the plan where we are continuing to raise money, and the top priority is raising money for student scholarships, so that will affect students. We are making students’ financial aid the top priority for fundraising.

A lot of it is thinking about where the opportunities are and if there are things that we need to organize differently. I hope that as we make Pace a better and stronger institution through the Strategic Plan, students will benefit. I do hope that we will continue to improve student success and experience, as those are some of our top priorities.

Career services also continues to be a top focus. We will continue to have a strong department and focus on the job market and the opportunities out there, as well as linking them more effectively to all parts of the University. 

AP: Students are concerned about the future learning environment post-COVID-19. Are you prepared in the event that construction doesn’t finish on schedule?

MK:  We have a good track record, but we did postpone because of the pandemic. The schedule did have room for slippage because things do not go perfectly. One thing this year has shown us is that we’re very good at responding to things that may happen that are unanticipated. I hope nothing like that happens again but I do think we should give ourselves credit for responding to unplanned events. I mean who could have ever expected this to happen? No one. 

AP: I know Chief Diversity Officer Tiffany Hamilton is working on this with students, but from your vantage point, how will you make anti-racism training a top priority? 

MK:  We have received many recommendations, and I am going to talk more about that on Wednesday. I have an announcement that I can’t reveal just yet about a new center we are going to open. We are trying to make sure support and education is available to everybody and clearly prioritizing that. Tiffany and her team are doing a great job.

AP: What are the ways you are being a leader at this moment? 

MK: Trying to set the tone by establishing the priorities and the task force was critical. We think that’s going to be very important in terms of moving us forward and I want to make sure we continue looking at what we are doing and hear everyone’s comments. That has been a top priority and I think if you look at the team you’ll see that they embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in every way.

It’s something we talk about and focus on and we will continue to work on; this is not a task that ends. I was on a national task force on mental health issues for Black and brown students. Working on that at a national level and establishing what we can do at Pace, that’s a top priority for me. This time has really underscored the mental health challenges for all students, but especially Black and brown students.

AP: As a leader, how are you working to ensure that students feel protected and supported on campus? 

MK: Zoomboming is terrible. On one of my first zooms, we were zoombombed. We have made it clear what our institutional policy is: zero-tolerance. We are investigating it and if anyone from the Pace community was part of it, then we are going to have to look at consequences for them. If they were outside of the Pace community, we must toughen our technology.

After the incident I was part of, we went to the company to install a more secure system and passwords. The incident that occurred last week made us think, “Is there more we need to do?” We take this very seriously and are very sad that it happened. I apologize to anyone that was affected by it. It’s not something that we will tolerate. 

You can register for the State of the University at