A Year-End Message

Office of the President

Dear Colleagues,

About 40 years ago I wrote a book called The Sufficiency of Hope, and I said that hope provides a way for rational people to move forward in those situations when reason alone cannot provide the answers.

The Graduate Center community has that sufficiency of hope. It urges us on.

We can rely on it because we have continued doing what defines us. We are a public institution proud of our place in New York City, driven by innovative research and knowledge grounded in evidence, and our dedication to graduate education for the public good.

At a time when we are all a little unsure about what’s next, we know that the expertise found at The Graduate Center is critical, especially now.

Faculty across our disciplines are pressing to find answers, to re-open labs, to understand the impact, and to share expertise about the coronavirus. In April, more than 100 scientists from 22 research institutions and 15 companies joined the ASRC Sensor CAT for a call-to-action webinar aimed at identifying and fast-tracking research to help win the battle against COVID-19 and future pandemics. Professor David F. Gruber (GC/Baruch, Biology/Natural Sciences) and his lab investigated the animal genome database in connection to the virus. Our expertise is being sought by the government as it fights the coronavirus.

Our faculty continued to hold classes, offering important support within and outside The Graduate Center to enrich distance learning. They are publishing and earning National Science Foundation grants, and recognition from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Staff are working tirelessly to support our students as they and we adjust to our new normal. In March, members of the ASRC staff organized the donation of PPE to frontline workers.

Indeed, our students and alumni are on the front lines. I encourage you to read the accounts of our nursing students and alumni who are working to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and fighting this pandemic.

Our extraordinary students hearten us all as they press on with their research and find new outlets for their expertise. They continue to receive prestigious awards, including four Fulbrights and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. This year’s graduates have defended their dissertations remotely. Some will soon be moving on to exciting postdocs and teaching positions. The demands of coronavirus distancing have denied our graduates an in-person commencement this year, but we look forward to welcoming them back in their caps and gowns in 2021.

The past 10 weeks have tried us in ways we could not have imagined. We mourn for friends, colleagues, and family we have lost. The disruptions to our work and our lives have been unexpected and profound.

We will face further challenges as we plan for the fall. If there is one thing this crisis has taught us, it’s that we cannot foresee the future. But we can prepare for it. Your strength and the strength of our organization and our mission convince me that we will move on from this hardship, and will emerge stronger as a result.

I am deeply grateful for the dedication of this community. I am proud to lead it.

I am here with you through July when my successor, Robin Garrell, arrives from UCLA to be The Graduate Center’s new president. Her decision to move to New York from California shows her optimism for the future of this remarkable institution — a sentiment I share.

Together, we will continue to seek and find answers to seemingly intractable problems. We will balance reason and hope and ready ourselves for the challenges and the opportunities ahead.

With warm regards,

James Muyskens
Interim President

Submitted on: MAY 14, 2020

Category: President's Office - Community Message