The New York Public Library announced today (October 6, 2010) that Dr. Anthony W. (Tony) Marx, President of Amherst College and a distinguished political scientist, will become the Library’s next President and CEO, effective July 2011. Dr. Marx was elected by unanimous vote at a special meeting today of the Library’s Board of Trustees.
He will succeed Dr. Paul LeClerc, who last year announced his plan to retire after more than 17 years of leadership, during which he helped steer the Library into the digital age.
Incoming NYPL President Dr. Anthony W. Marx on the steps of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (Photo by Jonathan Blanc)“We are thrilled with the choice of Tony Marx,” Library Chairman Catherine C. Marron and Vice-Chairman Joshua L. Steiner, Co-Chairmen of the Library’s Presidential Search Committee, said in a joint statement. “Everything he stands for—as a New Yorker, a scholar, and a dynamic change agent—makes Tony perfectly placed to lead The New York Public Library.”
“The New York Public Library is central to the kind of civil society I have worked so much of my life to build,” said Dr. Marx. “Every year, the Library helps millions of people learn, explore, and become more active participants in our democracy. I look forward to working with the committed NYPL trustees, staff, donors, and users to build physical and virtual libraries giving everyone access to information, invaluable resources, and a source of inspiration.”
Dr. Marx also has a strong personal connection to NYPL. A native New Yorker, he attended Public School 98 and the Bronx High School of Science. His earliest library memories include spending hours after school at his neighborhood Inwood branch, whose continued importance as a vital community resource is, he said, “very gratifying.”
At Amherst, where Dr. Marx became the youngest president in the College’s history when he assumed the post in 2003, he has earned wide recognition for his passionate promotion of socio-economic diversity and accessibility to higher education for lower-income students. The move to the Library, he said, is a natural outgrowth of his experience:
“The New York Public Library unites the world of advanced scholarship and the world of universal education. It conserves our cultural heritage and pushes ahead into new technological and intellectual frontiers. It cherishes both the tranquility of the reading room and the vocal debates of the public square. It is ‘local’ in the sense that New York is local—a community with global implications.”
"At Amherst, and for higher education more broadly, Tony Marx has been a courageous and skilled leader. He understands instinctively that America's greatest institutions need to be more accessible to all Americans, based on merit rather than elitism based on wealth and connections," said Jide Zeitlin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Amherst College.
He added, “Tony’s ideals are matched by his prolific fundraising ability. He is successfully leading the largest campaign in the history of Amherst College, setting fundraising records and enabling the college’s remarkable progress." During Dr. Marx’s tenure as President, Amherst has received the two largest gifts in the history of the College and the largest unrestricted gift to any college.
Promoting advancements in public education has been a cornerstone of Dr. Marx’s acclaimed career. During 13 years at Columbia University, where he served as professor and then director of undergraduate studies of political science, Dr. Marx spearheaded a number of secondary school initiatives. He established model public high schools as partnerships between school systems and universities while director of the Early College High School Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and founded the Columbia Urban Educators Program, a public school teacher recruitment and training partnership.
A pivotal experience, he said, occurred when he was in his 20s, when he helped found Khanya College, a South African secondary school that prepared more than 1,000 black students for university.
“I discovered the transformational power of education for those students who, against overwhelming odds, were able to get one,” said Dr. Marx. “From that was born my intense desire to extend the possibilities of education and access to information to as many people as possible, and to achieve this through the power of community and institutional partnerships.”
Dr. Marx is a member of the Board of Trustees of Barnard College and is also on the National Board of Directors of Teach for America.
He is the highly regarded author of more than a dozen scholarly articles and three books: Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990 (Oxford University Press, 1992); Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of the United States, South Africa and Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 1998); and Faith in Nation: Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2003). Making Race and Nation received the American Political Science Association’s 1999 Ralph J. Bunche Award for the best book on ethnic and cultural pluralism, and the American Sociological Association’s 2000 Barrington Moore Prize for comparative-historical sociology. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997, in addition to fellowships from the United States Institute of Peace, the National Humanities Center, the Howard Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.
"Tony stands for all ends of the spectrum of today's vast world of learning and information, with the perfect mix of scholarly achievement and commitment to the needs of our many diverse communities," said Dr. LeClerc. "He is a uniquely qualified leader for this transformative moment when libraries matter more, to record numbers of users, than ever.”
Despite significant funding cuts, Library circulation and attendance have reached record highs as New Yorkers and others rely on NYPL in hard economic times. One in four New Yorkers say they have no alternatives to Library academic resources, job search help, free computer and internet usage, community and family services, and more.
The yearly figures underscore this need: Users pay 18 million visits to NYPL, with another 24 million global visits online. Nearly 5 million computer sessions take place, and more than 123 million images have been downloaded from the Digital Gallery. Moreover, NYPL circulates more e-books than any library in the United States.
“Technological change offers enormous opportunities, but also risks exacerbating the information divide. In Tony, we found a leader who embraces the Library’s commitment to free and open access. He has passion for our mission and the flexibility, experience, and wisdom to help ensure
that we evolve the way we fulfill it,” said Mrs. Marron and Mr. Steiner.
NYPL has begun a dramatic $1.2 billion transformation plan which includes redesigning the landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street—celebrating its centennial in 2011—into a state-of-the-art central library incorporating circulation and research collections into the world’s most comprehensive library under one roof. It is also expanding the Library’s digital resources to extend the reach of and access to its unique collections.
“To me, the Library is a bulwark of an informed and inclusive society. I am ready and eager to pursue its ideals of wide access to information and ideas—ideals I want defining my children’s lives,” said Dr. Marx.
The transition is planned to take place July 1, 2011.
“This is a simply wonderful outcome for the Library,” said Dr. LeClerc. “What impresses me most about Tony Marx is his passionate commitment to the fundamental purpose of The New York Public Library: to inspire learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen communities. I can't think of a better person to guide the next phase of the Library's evolution, or to maintain its standing as one of the greatest sources of inspiration and learning in human history.”
Dr. Marx attended Wesleyan and Yale, where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in 1981. He received his M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1986, then earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton in 1987 and 1990.
Dr. Marx is married to Karen Barkey, a professor of sociology and history at Columbia University. They have two children, Joshua and Anna-Claire.
Longer statements from some of the stakeholders and high-res images are available by request.
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Its renowned research collections are located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street and Madison Avenue. Eighty-eight locations provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English for speakers of other languages. All in all The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org.
Contact: Angela Montefinise | angela_montefinise(AT)nypl.org | 212.592.7506