Keeping ‘Pace’ with MarVin Krislov

Marvin Krislov. Courtesy Pace University.

Balancing his time among the Manhattan, White Plains and Pleasantville campuses, Pace University President Marvin Krislov has been quite busy since he was first inaugurated in August 2017. 

Speaking about what his biggest accomplishments have been over the past year, Krislov says, “One of the main things I have been trying to do is getting to know the people here and building a strong team.

“We’re also focusing on our students and student success. This has been a long-term goal, but in the past year we’ve already improved some of our retention numbers and are really doing a good job in keeping our students on track and heading toward graduation.”

In addition, Krislov says he’s been working hard to make connections among Pace students, faculty, staff and alumni.  “Pace alumni are spread out and have come from very different backgrounds. Connecting people to the institution takes some work, but through improving our communications and our efforts to reach out to everyone, we have certainly started to create a stronger sense of community.”

Another important accomplishment is Krislov’s focus on initiatives that have been set up to help launch students into careers. (Pace was recently ranked number one among private, nonprofit, four-year institutions nationwide for colleges with the highest student mobility rates in a list published by the Chronicle of Higher Education.). “In order to continue to be successful in helping our students start their careers, it’s very important that we understand what employers are searching for.  Joining together with our career services and alumni, we’ve been creating and strengthening partnerships with companies in the greater New York region and it has been paying off for our students.”

Krislov says that Pace’s mission of Opportunitas provides its undergraduates with a powerful combination of knowledge in the professions, real-world experience and a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, giving them the skills and habits of mind to realize their full potential. “It resonates with me because my parents were both first-generation college-goers, and for them it opened up the path of opportunity. For my family, education was the way forward,” he says.

Krislov earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, where he graduated summa cum laude and was named a Rhodes scholar. He then received master’s degrees from Oxford and Yale universities and a Juris Doctor degree at Yale Law School.

Before reentering academia, Krislov served in the U.S. Department of Labor as acting solicitor from 1997 to 1998 and for two years before that as deputy solicitor of national operations. He took the position in the department after serving as associate counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President in the Clinton administration.

After being hired by the University of Michigan in 1998, Krislov served as vice president and general counsel. During his tenure there he led the University of Michigan’s legal defense of admission policies that recognize the importance of student diversity, which prevailed in a major 2003 Supreme Court decision.

Prior to his current position, Krislov served as president of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, for 10 years. During his tenure, he worked to make the college and its Conservatory of Music more rigorous, diverse, inclusive and accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In November 2009, he was appointed to the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Through his writings, speeches and public appearances and his service to the NEH, Krislov raised Oberlin’s international and national profile while championing the value of a liberal arts education.

Moving from Oberlin to Pace, Krislov says he had to get used to the larger size, adjusting to a student body of 13,000 instead of 3,000 and also the three campuses compared with one. “At Oberlin I could ride on my bike and get from one side of the campus to the other,” he says. “Clearly that’s not feasible here.”

Also, he adds, “At Oberlin, we primarily had an undergraduate program, with some students in the liberal arts and some in the Conservatory of Music. Here at Pace, we have six different schools and a range of students from undergraduate to graduate.”

“We also have students at Pace with a broader range of life experiences. Some are older students that have returned to get a degree after being in the work world or raising a family. We have some students who are veterans. And we also have transfer students from our community colleges. Some students live on campus and some commute, and we also have a wide range of international students.”

Krislov notes that what both colleges have in common are thriving arts programs. “The arts program at Oberlin is very strong. In particular, they have the Conservatory of Music and leading programs in theater and dance.  At Pace, the arts program is considered one of the very best in the state, particularly in musical theater and dance on an undergraduate level. We also have a leading master’s program in conjunction with The Actors Studio in Manhattan.”

Krislov points out that in Westchester, Pace has an outstanding Media, Communications, and Visual Arts Department. “One of the courses that is taught is documentary filmmaking, and the students travel on spring break to a location where they film a documentary that is ready by the end of the semester. This year they went to Puerto Rico after the storm and the film they made was screened at the Jacob Burns Film Center,” he says.

“One of the things we’re currently talking about are ways to further engage the community in the arts program here, so we’ve been working in Westchester with some of the community-based arts groups, such as the Jacob Burns Film Center.  We also worked with Arc Stages in Pleasantville and produced a free performance called ‘Sondheim on Screen,’ which was presented to the public at the Pleasantville campus this past summer.”

Krislov has also joined the board of ArtsWestchester and has begun exploring ways the university can get more involved with the arts in the county. “We’re talking how we can integrate our students and faculty with what is going on in the broader community,” he says.

“While some of these projects are going to take some time to germinate, my conviction is that the arts are really wonderful educational tools for everybody and we should strive to make them accessible and available to people from all backgrounds. That’s very important for the arts and also for society.”

For more, visit pace.edu.

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