The following message was sent to NYU Law alumni as part of the Courtyard Chronicle, the Law School's monthly email newsletter, on April 6, 2020.
I’m writing this from my home, thinking about you, our NYU Law community, and hoping this finds you safe and healthy. As is surely the case for a great many of you, home has become my office over the last several weeks. And that, of course, is just one facet of the many changes we have been experiencing.
In early March, together with the University, we made a decision that, in one sense, was easy to make in order to protect the health of our students, faculty, and staff: we shifted the entire Law School to online teaching and learning for the balance of the academic year.
That decision was also hard, not just because of the logistical challenges involved in such a rapid change, but also because we all treasure in-person interactions in our community. Many of you regularly return to Washington Square to engage with our students and our rich intellectual life—connections that help make our community all that it is. These days, my colleagues and I are thinking a lot about how, through these changes, we can maintain the core mission of the Law School—to educate the brightest minds of the next generation and to produce innovative thinking that changes the world and our understanding of it.
We must acknowledge that this is a deeply painful time, as many of us contend with the health effects of the virus in ever-more immediate ways. We are all experiencing a large public tragedy, and inside it are countless tangible, personal tragedies. Already, some members of our Law School community, their families, and other loved ones have become sick. Already, some have lost their lives to the pandemic. For all of you for whom this is true, my colleagues and I are keeping you in our thoughts every day.
Through it all, I have never been more proud of the people of NYU Law. Our faculty members have embraced a new mode of teaching. Our students remain active and engaged learners, sometimes from thousands of miles away. Our administrators worked tirelessly to make the transition as seamless as possible and continue to adapt and innovate. And so many of you have reached out to offer your support. Our community has risen magnificently to the occasion.
Even in this difficult time, our community perseveres. We are planning a range of virtual events and CLE offerings, which you will hear more about in the coming days. More broadly, we are striving to maintain and extend NYU Law’s role as an important thought leader. As we deal with the challenges of the current moment, we must also take the opportunity to think in new ways about legal education, the roles of law school in society, the role of technology, and adapting, and helping our graduates to adapt, to the numerous ways the law and legal practice will change.
In all of this, I am deeply grateful for your partnership—even and especially in these times. I knew when I became dean that this community was special; your outreach now continues to confirm it.
A number of you have asked how you can direct support to those in our community who are most affected. Many of our students are facing unexpected financial strain as a result of the pandemic, so we have established an NYU Law COVID-19 Hardship Fund in order to support them during this time. Thank you to those of you who have already made contributions. I encourage any of you who want to find a way to support or engage with our students to reach out to our Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni relations, Nick Vagelatos. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
NYU Law is not just Washington Square. It is all of us and all that we do, wherever we are. I have no doubt that we will continue to rise to this moment. Even though we are apart, we will do it together.
Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law
New York University School of Law