Date: May 19, 2020
To: First-Year Undergraduate Students
From: NYU Provost Katherine Fleming

Dear First-Year Undergraduate NYU Students,

Congratulations on your admission to NYU. You worked hard to earn a place as an NYU student. We’re looking forward to meeting you. I hope that this finds you and your family well.

No doubt the coronavirus has been very much a presence in your lives since early spring. It will continue to be a presence in our lives as we start and move through the 2020-21 academic year, and we must adjust accordingly.

That's why I'm writing.

I’m sure you must be wondering what next year will be like. While we don’t know the course of the pandemic over the next year, I want to give you a preliminary sense of how we’re planning to conduct classes in New York, following practices that best protect your health. Later in the summer, we’ll update you in more detail as the public health situation becomes clearer and as our preparations sharpen.


The well-being of all NYU community members will be the principal basis for our decision-making. We plan to put in place rigorous measures to prevent, track, and respond to COVID-19 infections, and will require each member of the community, new and returning, to adopt behaviors that promote public health.

Our safety planning includes:

  • reviewing all of our campus spaces to ensure that any in-person classes, activities, and events allow for social distancing;
  • making masks available for all members of the NYU community and requiring their use;
  • conducting virus and antibody testing and contact tracing;
  • reducing density in student housing; and
  • developing more flexible formats for student life activities.


We’re planning to convene in person, with great care, in the fall (subject to government health directives), both in New York and at our Global sites. I can’t pretend that 2020-21 will be a typical academic year. We’ll be living with safety measures and will have to be highly flexible so we can respond to a changing landscape. I can promise you, however, that our goal is to enable you to begin your college career academically in a way that works best for you and that maximizes flexibility. We’re committed to ensuring that all of our students receive the high-quality education that drew them to NYU, even though some students will likely be unable to make it to New York at the start of the year.


We’re currently working with deans, faculty, and administrators to offer you options for taking NYU classes this fall, regardless of any impediments to travel that you may experience and/or any restrictions the University may face.
Here are some plans that we are developing:

  • offering classes in a mixed mode to enable you to participate in-person or remotely (with the understanding that some courses or parts of courses may be offered only remotely);
  • designing ways for you to spread classes over two or three semesters—fall, spring, and a summer term 2021 with an enhanced set of course offerings—without additional tuition costs;
  • expanding summer 2021 internship opportunities that you can pursue while you take summer courses;
  • making sure that all courses are designed to be agile in responding to public health developments; and
  • providing those who live close to an operating campus or site in NYU's global network with the option of studying there for the fall—the “Go Local” option. This option may include a combination of in-person and online classes and provide other services offered by the campus or global site. The Go Local option is available to individuals who hold citizenship or residency rights in the country that is home to a selected campus or site (for example: if a student with Italian citizenship were unable to come to NYC to study because of ongoing travel restrictions, we may enable that student to study at NYU’s site in Florence, or elsewhere in the EU). The Office of Global Programs will send out more information on this option tomorrow.

In short, during the coming academic year we plan to offer you significant additional flexibility as to how you study, where you study, and when you study (that is, the time span over which you spread your classes). By next week, you should receive a communication from your school about how to work with your academic advisor to avail yourself of the flexibility the University is putting in place next year, and by late June or early July, we will be in a position to share more information about how we will integrate public health guidelines and your education.

In 2020-21, we will bolster NYU’s tradition of ambitious liberal arts by launching a new set of courses on topics of the greatest student interest, taught by some of our most prominent and esteemed faculty and open to all students. These courses will be available regardless of where you find yourself this fall. We will share more later this summer.

I’m sure that you will have questions on all of this. Your advisors have likely already been in touch; they will be the best people to go to for questions about registration and the specifics of 2020-21. For our part, we will stay in touch with you with regular updates.

No matter where or how you choose to study this fall, NYU will support you as you seek to meet your educational goals. We are so proud to have you as our students, and can’t wait to see you in our classrooms, real and virtual. The university’s motto, which often seems abstract, has never had such significance: In the face of uncertainty and complex challenges, we continue to persevere together and to excel. Perstare et Praestare.

With best wishes to you all,
Katherine Fleming
New York University