Recovery Planning

April 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Craig Smith, the Chair of the Department of Surgery at CUIMC, recently commented in his daily COVID-19 Update (a blog many of us look forward to reading every day) how, in planning for starting and reopening, “our situation serves as a cautionary reality-check on logistic obstacles.” And he added: “Caution and relentlessness can coexist.”

That combination of prudence and determination is undergirding the variety of efforts underway, noted last week by President Bollinger, to think through how best to proceed as we begin to slowly move past the COVID-19 peak. These include a CUIMC Task Force, on which Dr. Smith serves, and a set of University working groups on public health, education, facilities and campus life, and laboratory research that have begun to meet multiple times each week to forge a path forward.

These working groups, whose counsel will help steer University decision-making, are advising the Council of Deans, the leaders of each of our schools who are considering how their particular situation should shape reopening strategies, and the University’s COVID-19 Task Force, composed of public health specialists and senior leaders of the University with operational responsibilities who meet nearly every day.

I am delighted, but not surprised, to report that every person who was invited to serve as a member of the working groups promptly agreed. They include the following colleagues:  

  1. Public Health: Wafaa El-Sadr, University Professor of Epidemiology and Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health, Mailman School of Public Health, serving as convener; Melanie Bernitz, Associate Vice President and Medical Director, Columbia Health, and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine; Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health and DeLamar Professor of Public Health Practice; Lee Goldman, Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Chief Executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Scott Hammer, Harold C. Neu Professor of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Epidemiology; Steven Shea, Senior Vice Dean of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Hamilton Southworth Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Epidemiology


  1. Education: Gillian Lester, Dean of the Columbia Law School and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, serving as convener; Amy Hungerford, Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and Comparative Literature; Soulaymane Kachani, Vice Provost for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation and Senior Vice Dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science; Julie Kornfeld, Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health; Costis Maglaras, Dean of the Columbia Business School and David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business; James J. Valentini, Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education


  1. Facilities and Campus Life: Ann Thornton, Vice Provost and University Librarian, serving as convener; Amale Andraos, Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Troy Eggers, Executive Vice Provost; Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President for University Life and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law; David Greenberg, Executive Vice President for University Facilities and Operations; Donna Lynne, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and Chief Executive Officer of ColumbiaDoctors


  1. Laboratory Research: Rui Costa, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain and Behavior Institute and Professor of Neuroscience, serving as convener; Shih-Fu Chang, Senior Executive Vice Dean and Richard Dicker Professor at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science; Arthur Lerner-Lam, Deputy Director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Lamont Research Professor; Robert Mawhinney, Dean of Science in Arts and Sciences and Professor and Chair of Physics; Gerald Rosberg, Senior Executive Vice President; Naomi Schrag, Vice President for Research Compliance, Training, and Policy; Michael Shelanski, Senior Vice Dean for Research at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Henry Taub Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology; Jeannette Wing, Avanessians Director of the Data Science Institute and Professor of Computer Science

Their work will be informed and guided by leaders at offices across the University, including Columbia World Projects, Columbia Global Centers, CUIT, and the Registrar, and supported by at-large members, including Jane Booth, General Counsel; Susan Glancy, Chief of Staff, Office of the President; Shailagh Murray, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs; and Anne Sullivan, Executive Vice President for Finance and Information Technology. Consulting widely with faculty, students, and staff, the working groups will pursue empirical understanding, analytical sensibility, and policy judgment with caution and relentlessness.


With best wishes,


Ira Katznelson
Interim Provost
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History