Date: January 31, 2021
TO: NYU Parents
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Loved Ones,

The spring semester begins with a bit more optimism, a bit less uncertainty, and greater promise than did the fall semester.

We have the benefit of some experience, drawn from reconvening in August and carrying on without an outbreak on campus during the fall. Our students and employees exceeded our expectations for observing the safety rules we put in place for the start of 2020-2021. We have begun the process of vaccinating members of our community—not as rapidly as we might wish, but we are making progress among those NYUers approved by New York State to be vaccinated: those delivering patient-facing healthcare, teaching in-person classes, and 65 years old or older. Move-in to the residence halls—which occurred on the weekend of January 16 and 17 for those required to quarantine and on the weekend of January 23 and 24 for those from the region—went reasonably smoothly.  Even quarantining, which many students find onerous, is, in accord with State mandates, several days shorter now than at the beginning of the fall semester.  And interest in NYU remains high— we had more than 100,000 applications for undergraduate admission, a new record unmatched by any private university. We also had our strongest year for scholarly research.

Still, there remains plenty of room for concern. Nationally, locally, and even on campus, case positivity rates are significantly higher than they were at the start of the fall, even as we have seen a bit of improvement more recently. New variants of the COVID-19 virus are more contagious than earlier versions. And a mix of fatigue from the months of carefully following our rules and the prospect of vaccination may, we worry, lead to less conscientiousness than we saw last semester.

So, as I have before this academic year, I’d like to call upon you—the parents, loved ones, and guardians of our students—to assist us by reinforcing the idea that beating the coronavirus requires a sustained effort, and we are not close to the end yet. The students—indeed all of NYU’s citizens—have been, on the whole, marvelous this year; however, we need them to continue to be so for the foreseeable future—to wear their face coverings, to avoid crowds, to avoid being in indoor settings, such as restaurants, with their masks off, to keep up with the regular COVID testing we conduct, to abide by our prohibition on guests, etc.

Keeping each other safe is a community effort; your counsel will matter. So please urge your student to keep abiding by our health and safety rules for their sake, your sake, and everyone’s sake.

We seem to be off to a pretty good start; I appreciate any help you can provide to sustain our momentum.

Thank you for the trust you have placed in us; please know we are doing our best to earn it.

May winter pass gently into spring for you, and may you and everyone in your family stay safe and well. For my part, I very much look forward to the day in, I hope, the not too distant future when we can all come together again face-to-face.

Take care.


Andrew Hamilton
New York University