Dear Friends,

Even when we are apart, we are one community, joined by a passion for scholarship, teaching and learning, creativity and performance, ideas with impact, professional education that can make a difference, diversity and inclusion.  Though we are separated now by COVID-19 and by the summer break, you are seldom far from my thoughts, and I hope all of you in the NYU community are safe and healthy, and the same is true for all the important people in your lives.  I think especially of those who have spent the late spring fighting for social justice, and the additional hardships that the pandemic imposed, particularly in the form of disparate impacts on poor communities and communities of color.

In the face of rapidly changing circumstances and unpredictability caused by COVID-19 in the spring 2020 semester, our community confronted challenges unflinchingly and carried on.  However, this is, as they say, a marathon, not a sprint, and every one of us will have difficult moments.  I want to remind you that we have resources to help.  For students, the Wellness Exchange and the Student Health Center are there to assist you if you are struggling.  And for faculty and employees, Carebridge can provide you with assistance for in your personal and family lives.

Our plan for the fall is to reconvene in person in New York and at our campuses and sites around the globe.  I know that is only part of the answer about the coming academic year, which has been and continues to be shrouded by uncertainty, and that you have additional questions.

We need to be cognizant that our plans, no matter how thoughtful or thorough, may need to change, depending on the course of the coronavirus.  This "hub," NYU Returns, is the result of many weeks of work by University leadership, planning groups, and experts, as well as guidance from external authorities; it is a living document that will change over the course of the summer as we learn more about the course of COVID-19, take account of new public health guidelines, and refine our plans.  NYU Returns is based on:

  • Putting the safety of our people first
  • A commitment to our academic mission, and the educational progress of our students
  • Guidance and evidence from health authorities and experts
  • The multi-layered health and safety protocols NYU is putting in place and…
  • The accompanying expectation that each individual has a responsibility to the collective well-being of the entire community
  • Dignity, respect, and care for every member of the community, regardless of role
  • Acknowledgement that the impact of COVID-19 has not fallen equally among people and communities, and the University should mitigate those disparate impacts, which have affected more seriously people in poverty and people of color
  • The recognition that the NYU must not only combat the spread of COVID-19 in its own community but contribute to efforts in the broader New York community

Academic Year 2020-2021 will be a year like no other.  It will require adaptability, patience, self-discipline, mutual responsibility, and some very different ways of doing things that have been habits for years, even decades.  The virus has thrown us many challenges in 2020, and uncertainty persists; we may need to modify our plans to respond to the unexpected.

While these hardships and adjustments imposed by COVID-19 will not persist forever, they will for the foreseeable future.  I have faith in the NYU community to adapt and persevere together.

Take care of yourselves.  Stay safe.  I look forward to seeing you – from a safe, six-foot distance (and wearing a mask) – in the fall.


Andrew Hamilton