Update on the Next Academic Year and Helping Our Neighbors

Lee C. Bollinger
April 23, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing with another update, this time primarily to begin thinking ahead to the next academic year. Under the extraordinary and painful conditions of the pandemic, our minds are, by necessity, fixed on coping with the present. But, by inclination and by the sheer march of time, we also have to make plans for the future. We have collectively done so for this semester, and then for the summer, and now we need to bring our attention to the fall semester and next academic year. The purpose of this message is to say that this process is now underway.

It is true that in a crisis, such as the one we are now experiencing, the almost incomprehensible variables and uncertainties that characterize the moment often make definitive decisions unwise. That said, I want to affirm that Columbia will be proceeding with the 2020-2021 academic year. Over the next two months, I and others will write with more detail about how we will do that. I have no doubt, however, that whatever form our pursuit and application of knowledge takes we will be called upon to manifest a steady and determined effort and to achieve the highest levels of creativity we can summon. We are open, but we are and will be open in new ways, including those we have not yet discovered. Some of what we will do will be new but will change back when normality returns, and for good reason, because these activities and practices have been developed and refined over centuries. I’m thinking here especially of the art of personal intellectual discussion. Other things, however, we will invent afresh, and keep, and the Columbia decades from now will be richer for them. You will hear from me soon about ideas that are emerging.

Read the full announcement.