Tishman Announces Tishman Scholarship in Tishman Auditorium
At a recent event The New School managed to redouble its efforts to promote environmental design while simultaneously celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of its most prolific trustees.
On January 24, The New School played host to trustee John L. Tishman, who sat down with Bob Kerrey, president emeritus of the university, for a conversation about his life and career as the head of one of New York City’s most prominent construction firms. The event drew a distinguished crowd, with friends, family and New School luminaries like Eugene Lang gathering at the auditorium bearing Tishman’s name to see him honored.
The night culminated in the announcement of a $1 million gift from Dan and Sheryl Tishman to establish the John L. Tishman Scholarship for Sustainable Development, Design and Construction at The New School.
Tishman has been a New School trustee for more than 30 years. Tishman donated the majority of the $1.5 million it cost to renovate the university’s acclaimed auditorium, which was completed in 1992 and now bears his name. He also personally oversaw his company’s construction of projects like the World Trade Center and the John Hancock Center in Chicago, among others.
His time with The New School hasn’t been without controversy. Tishman Construction, his company, is currently building the new University Center at 65 Fifth Ave. In 2009, a subcommittee of the board of trustees determined Tishman Construction’s contract to develop the new building did not pose a conflict of interest, though The New School would not comment on whether or not they took bids from other companies without ties to the university.
The gift from Tishman’s son, Dan, and daughter-in-law, Sheryl, was given in honor of the elder Tishman’s 85th birthday and creates a scholarship eligible to New School students whose work focuses on the development of sustainable urban environments.
The new scholarship is meant to help advance Parsons’ commitment to environmentally sustainable design and urban construction, and is yet another addition to his long legacy of promoting such issues at the university. Previously, Tishman helped develop the Tishman Environment and Design Center and the Tishman Environmental Merit Scholars Program.
At the event, Kerrey, dressed in a sport coat, slacks and sneakers, played an engaging and capricious host to the developer. He drew from Tishman’s memoir to strike up a discussion about the different events and experiences that came to define him as a person — losing his father at the age of four, how President Franklin Roosevelt’s death “left a big hole in [his] life,” and his association with various captains of American industry like Donald Trump, Michael Eisner, Steve Wynn and Henry Ford II.
The conversation was often light-hearted and amusing. Kerrey at one point asked Tishman whether it’s “hard to be [both] a builder and a liberal,” while Tishman explained how in his youth one would attend a progressive school for the sake of “having an experience” rather than academic reasons.
New School President David Van Zandt, who made introductory remarks and also announced the scholarship, praised Tishman for his commitment to the university. “I think John Tishman is such a wonderful person,” Van Zandt said. “I’ve gotten to know him only recently since taking this job.
“As his son said, The New School is such a big part of his life, and he’s been so generous in devoting his time and resources to The New School,” Van Zandt added. “It’s just wonderful to be able to do this for him.”