Date: December 23, 2020
TO: NYU Parents
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Loved Ones,

As I recently wrote to the NYU community, 2020 opened with the University focusing on an emerging virus and its possible impact on our campus in Shanghai, and the year closes with a nurse at NYU Langone Health becoming one of the first people in New York—indeed in the US—to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine. In between was a year unlike any other in my four decades in higher education—one that entailed a rapid shift to remote instruction and weeks of rapid response to fast changing conditions, months of careful planning to prepare for the fall semester—including reconvening on campus—and, in the end, a carefully managed and successful fall.

NYU can take some pride, liberally tempered with humility, for the fall’s favorable outcomes.  

Fall 2020 at NYU passed without an outbreak of COVID.  When it came to observing our health rules, those who opted to join us on campus this fall were exemplary overall. Amidst nearly 200,000 COVID tests of our students, faculty, and staff, there was little or no evidence that our de-densified classrooms 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, owing to students’ determination to pursue their degrees, the faculty’s dedication to ensuring students’ academic progress, and the flexibility NYU was able to provide as to when, where, and how students—many of whom chose to join us remotely—could take courses. Applications for admission to NYU for fall 2021 are up so far, even as applications to colleges have declined nationally. Our unique global structure, which might have been forecast to be a weakness in a pandemic, emerged as a source of strength, thanks to the launch of Go Local, which enabled thousands of students who were unable to travel internationally to connect to NYU nonetheless. And though the financial losses and costs associated with COVID-19 were unprecedented, 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.

Success such as this can be traced to many sources; surely you, our NYU parents, are among them. The faith you placed in us in this most uncertain of years—and the forbearance you showed during our occasional stumbles—was particularly important in driving our efforts. We are very grateful to you, and conscious of the great responsibility with which you have entrusted us by sending your students here for their education.

Not surprisingly, we are already thinking ahead to spring semester, and our plans for carefully reconvening on campus. Between now and then, may you and your entire family enjoy the winter break, and be safe and well.  

Thank you for your support, and for your belief in NYU.


Andrew Hamilton