Spring 2021 Welcome Message to Students
Dear GS Students,
Welcome back to all of our returning students for the Spring 2021 semester, and once again I welcome to Columbia University the more than 280 new GS students who begin classes today. I hope you all enjoyed a restful winter break and a productive orientation week. I start 2021 with the optimism that accompanies a new year, and the belief that the spring term will mark the beginning of our slow transition to more normal times.
Current Events and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce
Sadly, however, I must begin by noting the events of last week and the violence that marred our country’s long-held tradition of transitioning the power of the presidency in a peaceful manner. Like many of you, I watched the events that occurred at the Capitol in horror, saddened and angered by the violence, hatred, and hypocrisy. The contrast to the treatment this summer of peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors in front of the White House is a stark reminder of the work we have ahead of us - not only as a nation, but right here at GS and in our Columbia community. It is with this mind that I reaffirm our efforts to be a more inclusive environment and to work hard with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce to make a difference in real and tangible ways. We have far to go as a country, but terrible moments like what we experienced last week should serve to inspire us to never give up our ideals and to fight for what we believe in. I look forward to continuing to share and discuss the ways in which our community will do more, but in the meantime, I encourage you to be there for each other and to keep our community strong. The Dean of Students Office will host an event later this week to provide students an opportunity to come together as a community.
As we enter our second full semester with most classes and support services delivered virtually, I am pleased to highlight the fact that nearly 200 courses being offered this semester will be delivered in a hybrid modality, featuring some in-person activities. Additionally, our amazing faculty have once again designed some innovative new courses to address our unique moment in history. Details on both can be found on the GS website. Finally, Dean Delva, Dean Colgrove, and I are pleased to be hosting, in partnership with the faculty in the Arts & Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and Columbia School of Social Work, our second semester of the Justice and Pandemics Preparedness Academy, details of which will be shared later in the week. As a reminder, all instruction will remain virtual for the first two weeks of the semester to ensure the safety of the entire Columbia community and to allow all students, faculty, and staff who will be accessing campus to complete their gateway COVID-19 testing.
Online Support and Programming
Once again, our incredible Columbia GS staff and student leaders will be offering a diverse array of community-building events and support services to ensure that GS students continue to receive the best experience and education possible. I hope that you will explore these opportunities on the GS website and in the weekly GS newsletters. I am also pleased to be continuing my Dining with the Dean “virtual” meetings, and will be sharing details on dates and registration in the coming weeks.
Financial Aid Opportunities
As I announced in December, in our ongoing efforts to provide as much support as possible to GS students grappling with the financial burdens brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, GS is offering currently enrolled students the opportunity to apply for a one-time emergency grant to assist with the costs of items such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. I encourage all eligible students to apply by this Friday, January 15, to be included in the first round of funding.
COVID-19 Protocols & Testing
Finally, please remember that students who plan to come to campus during the spring term should review all required protocols on the Columbia COVID-19 Resource site and ensure that you complete gateway testing regardless of whether you were tested in the fall.
I wish you all a successful and rewarding spring term!
Dean, Columbia University School of General Studies
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences