Date: January 6, 2021
TO: NYU Students
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear NYU Student,

Welcome to the NYU community. We are so pleased that you are joining us. You are adding your individual talents and energy to a vibrant scholarly community, and in so doing making us stronger and expanding our intellectual reach and curiosity.

You join us in a remarkable and uncommon year. The national election or the widespread efforts to correct social injustice alone would have distinguished 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic, and NYU's responses to it, have made it a one-of-a-kind year.

Across the country, universities had a variety of responses to COVID-19. At NYU, we emphasized flexibility, whether that meant reconvening on campus, enabling students to pursue their courses remotely, or using our unequalled international presence to permit thousands of NYU students stranded around the world to connect with NYU and carry on their studies.

Those of you who are choosing to join us on the New York campus this spring will find a community that is committed to keeping each other safe and dedicated to following the safety and health rules that led to a fall semester without an outbreak of coronavirus.

The way fall 2020 unfolded is a source of pride for NYU community members. Amidst nearly 200,000 COVID tests of our students, faculty, and staff, there was no campus outbreak, and little or no evidence that our classrooms (where density had been reduced) were a source of transmission for the virus. NYU’s research program had a record year, and was among the top 10 universities in the country in COVID-related National Science Foundation grants. Course registration exceeded predictions, notwithstanding COVID’s many challenges. Time and again, NYU’s faculty demonstrated their dedication to ensuring students’ academic progress, fulfilling their duties even as they confronted unprecedented professional and personal challenges. And though the financial losses and costs associated with COVID-19 were singular, NYU was able to offer more, not less, aid to students, and to avoid the kind of dire steps that many universities had to impose on their faculty and other employees.

As we move into 2021, there is reason for optimism: the divisive and draining presidential campaign is over and settled. Applications for admission are strong for NYU in a year when they have been weak nationally; our Early Decision applications were up by 16%. And we can foresee that the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines — which for our community began with a nurse at NYU Langone Health who was among the first in the country to be inoculated — will alter the course of the pandemic for NYUers.

But between now and the day when enough people have been vaccinated, it will be supremely important for you who are joining us to absorb with the same high levels of conscientiousness the habits that became ingrained in our community in the fall:

  • mask-wearing
  • observing our testing schedule and the daily screener protocol
  • physical distancing
  • avoiding crowds (especially indoors)
  • good hand hygiene
  • and being disciplined about touching your face, among other practices

Our community members are serious about following these rules, and we are serious about enforcing them. For more information on NYU’s efforts to combat COVID-19, please turn to the NYU Returns information hub.

The challenges are not over yet. We appreciate the steadfastness you are showing by joining us at this time, and the faith you are placing in us to support you in your academic goals.

We offer our best wishes as you begin your studies at NYU. We are here to help and support you. And we are very glad to have you with us.

Good luck with your studies and all your activities.

Andrew Hamilton