Columbia families,

This evening, President Bollinger shared updated information regarding Columbia’s ongoing planning for the COVID-19 emergency. Additional information was shared by Executive Vice President Goldberg regarding changes to campus services.

As I communicated yesterday, we strongly encourage all students to depart their campus residence halls or return from their study abroad site. We realize that modifying travel arrangements and moving belongings out quickly may impose financial costs that present a hardship for some students and families. To help with these unexpected costs we will provide up to $500 to any undergraduate in need of financial help - students can use this money to pay for flights, arrange for storage, or other logistics related to their departure from campus. Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduates received detailed information this evening on the steps required to request funds.

I hope this funding helps to reduce barriers for students who are on-campus or studying abroad but would like to return home or to their permanent residence. For those students who have already departed campus, funds can be used to arrange for storage and other moving-related expenses. More details about moving out can be found on the Columbia Housing site.

I want to reiterate that students are strongly encouraged to leave campus or their study abroad sites as soon as they are able, for their own health and safety as well as that of the larger community. We will continue to care for those students who must remain in university housing due to extenuating circumstances.


Matthew Patashnick
Associate Dean for Student & Family Support
Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

From: Lee C. Bollinger <>
Date: Fri, Mar 13, 2020 at 8:34 PM
Subject: Update on COVID-19

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing, again, with two quick but important updates to the message I sent yesterday. Please understand that we are continually reassessing our position by the hour, as new information comes in and our judgments evolve. We are, of course, in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with our state and city officials, as well as local experts.

The first is to express our support for all students who are able to continue to leave the residence halls at our request and pursue their studies remotely for the remainder of the semester. This is important for the goal of reducing our residential population to a degree that will lower the risk of transmission of the virus. We realize that modifying travel arrangements and moving belongings out quickly may impose financial costs that present a hardship for some students, and, to help ameliorate and expedite departures, we will provide up to $500 to any undergraduate who needs help in this regard.

The second is to say that, as of Monday, March 16, we are asking only designated personnel who are required to perform essential functions to report to work on-site. All other employees are asked to report to work virtually according to procedures that are being announced and coordinated by your home departments and schools. Our goal, as with our residential facilities, is to reduce the population on campus and to scale back as much as possible in order to keep people safe while maintaining the mission of the University.

I want to close this message today with a very special note of thanks to all those who will continue to perform essential functions on-site and to the doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, and all support staff at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and all their colleagues at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who are serving on the front line of this crisis. They deserve our deepest gratitude.


Lee C. Bollinger