A message from Interim President James Muyskens

Office of the President

April 17, 2020

Dear alumni,

I hope that this message finds you and your loved ones safe in this difficult time. I know that all of us are facing particular challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis, which has had a profound impact on our daily lives and our city. We are thinking of you and hope that you will reach out to us at The Graduate Center if we can assist you in any way.

First, thank you to those generous alumni who have contributed to our Student Emergency Fund. Together along with faculty, staff, and the leadership of our Foundation Board, we have raised over $150,000 to meet these dire student needs. We are receiving roughly five emergency requests each day from students facing emergency needs related to COVID-19, including last-minute travel related to the quarantine orders, rent burdens, loss of additional income from supplementary jobs, medical expenses, and other urgent situations. We estimate that we will need $500,000 in order to ensure that our students do not have to make the difficult choice between meeting their financial obligations and continuing to pursue their degrees. I know that many of you on the other side will recognize this heartbreaking choice. The emergency grants we have made are relatively modest and any gift you can make will have an impact. Please consider making a donation to help sustain the next generation of GC scholars.

I am heartened by the dedication shown by Graduate Center students, faculty, and staff who support our mission of research and scholarship and contribute in valuable ways to understanding and solving the coronavirus crisis. Our colleagues at the Advanced Science Research Center have organized and donated much-needed supplies including personal protective equipment to area medical centers. Many of our scientists have adjusted their own laboratories to working in an off-site environment and some have shifted their research to key areas in the fight against COVID-19 such as tracing the genome for the species that originated the disease and studying how airborne particles move. Additionally, our social scientists and other scholars continue to provide insight into how we move forward in a pandemic, from analyzing how we respond to anxiety to researching inequalities exacerbated by this crisis. 

This is also a sad time for The Graduate Center community with the passing of several valued members of the GC community: Distinguished Professor of Sociology William HelmreichPh.D. student in Political Science Thomas Waters; and alumnus of Art History Maurice Berger. Their diverse careers and interests are a testament to The Graduate Center's intellectual diversity and commitment to the public good. 

Indeed, our dedication to meaningful, groundbreaking scholarship is unwavering. In recent months, GC students and alumni have been the winners of prominent grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Ford Foundation, and the Heising Simons Foundation. We are thinking of creative ways to honor and celebrate our class of graduates outside of the traditional June commencement ceremony. 

Again, please do let us know how you are doing. Now more than ever, the power of community is deeply felt by all, and we are committed to support all members of The Graduate Center family. 

James Muyskens

Interim President

Submitted on: APR 17, 2020

Category: COVID-19 | President's Office - Archive