A Message from the President

Office of the President

Dear Graduate Center community,

We have come to the end of the academic year, and there is much to celebrate. The arc of our journey was really set 14 months ago, and what a distance we have traveled! Faced with the challenges of the pandemic, we created new connections and collaborations, innovative pedagogies, and communities that transcended time zones and miles.

This year, once again, our remarkable faculty and students have earned impressive awards and honors. They include the election of Professors Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Joy Connolly to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the awarding of a $3 million Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship to Professor Rein Ulijn. Two graduate students, Carly Batist and Evan Mann, received Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants for research abroad. A record number of students were awarded doctoral dissertation fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, and The Graduate Center awarded 66 dissertation fellowships. I am delighted, too, that we were able to provide critical funding to many students through the new Catalyst Grant program.

The fourth annual Dissertation Showcase was held on May 19th. If you missed it, you may watch it here. Ten extraordinary doctoral students embraced the challenge to present the key findings of their dissertation research in a three-minute talk designed for a general audience. For the first time, we awarded a Presidential Prize for Public Communication to recognize an essential skill for advancing in any career. Remarkably, the scoring of the presentations led to a tie. Please join me in congratulating the two awardees, Natalie Gordon and Jojo Karlin.

On Thursday, June 3, at 1 p.m., we will celebrate the 2020–21 doctoral and master’s graduates with a video tribute. I encourage everyone to watch and applaud their achievements. I’m happy to add that we are planning to hold a modified in-person commencement ceremony this fall. Watch for more news about that event.

The availability of COVID-19 vaccines, increasing vaccination rates, and the abatement of the pandemic are making it possible to recommence many activities of daily life. Accordingly, we are continuing to refine plans for safely increasing the occupancy of both 365 Fifth Avenue and the ASRC, beginning this summer. We are looking to open spaces for studying, as well as classrooms, offices, and the library.

As Chancellor Matos Rodríquez announced, to attend in-person classes this fall (fully in-person or hybrid), students will need to have been fully vaccinated. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone who can receive the vaccine to do so as soon as possible. This is our surest and swiftest past toward ending the COVID-19 public health crisis. To further minimize transmission, The Graduate Center will sustain mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements that are consistent with CUNY and state policies.

On behalf of the entire GC community, I extend thanks and appreciation to all of our essential employees. They have been coming to the GC, the ASRC, and the apartments at 118th Street throughout the pandemic to sustain essential operations and business continuity. We can take pride in our facilities, institutional services, and public safety teams collectively; all have shown sustained commitment to our safety and welfare.

This fall will bring welcome familiarity, a chance to congregate, learn, and provide in-person support for our students, faculty, and staff. Although in some ways we will be transitioning back to the way things were in the before times, we have the opportunity to move forward in transformational ways. Over the past year, we have discovered how remote work can foster broader engagement and, for some, an improved quality of life. As we move forward, we will strive to be flexible in finding the balance between in-person and remote work. The optimal balance and approach may vary by role or functional area, but they will always be guided by the imperative that we effectively carry out the work of the university and fulfill our teaching, research, and public service mission.

Thank you, everyone, for your unceasing efforts, dedication, and resilience over the past year. It has been a marathon. I encourage you to now take some time to rest your mind and body, and to refresh your spirit.

I am so proud of the exceptional work you do each day at The Graduate Center, and look forward to building on our 60 years of pioneering and meaningful research and education.

I wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to greeting you in person this fall.


Robin L. Garrell

Submitted on: MAY 24, 2021

Category: General GC News | President's Office - Community Message