Update on the Spring 2021 Semester

Nov 16 2020

Dear Columbia Engineering Undergraduates,

As we continue with the Fall semester, I write with further updates on the upcoming spring semester following President Bollinger’s message from earlier today.

As President Bollinger indicated, over the summer and into the fall, our research and education efforts have ramped up while adhering to public health guidance, remaining at a reduced density with all faculty, students and staff respecting the Columbia Community Health Compact. We are fortunate to have public health experts guiding our efforts, which has been instrumental in maintaining the health and safety of our community. Our united efforts in adhering to the Health Compact, from reduced population density to our testing program to face coverings and physical distancing as well as modification and disinfection of physical spaces, have been instrumental in keeping a low rate of infection on our campus. We must continue this vigilance as we see the rising trends of infection rates across the country. Please see the Columbia COVID-19 website, our University resource for the most up to date information and guidance. We appreciate your ongoing contributions to this effort and your tremendous resilience as we continue to collectively work through the uncertainties posed by this global pandemic.

Below I provide updates on on-campus housing, registration, and curriculum offerings for spring.

On Campus Housing

As we prepare for spring, we are pleased to be able to welcome more undergraduates back to campus. Our current conditions enable us to accommodate a modest increase in the number of students in dormitory housing. Priority will be given to our senior class for their final semester at Columbia. In addition, we will reopen consideration of students with special circumstances through an application process, as we did in the fall. If conditions and space permit, we hope to welcome a limited number of juniors, as well. All students with guaranteed housing status will receive a separate communication later today regarding important next steps for spring campus housing.

While we look forward to bringing more students to campus, we are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to welcome all of our undergraduate students to live on campus for the spring term. With the knowledge that many students will continue to experience Columbia remotely, our faculty and staff are developing more ways to enhance the student experience while remote. Staff across undergraduate student life (USL) are advising and supporting student groups virtually as are engineering specific student groups with special events, outreach, and activities. USL also continues to offer community engagement through virtual programs. USL is interested in working with you to build community across our many time zones and has asked students to please email ugradstudentlife@columbia.edu with your suggestions for spring programs or activities.

Course Offerings and Registration

You have recently received an email from the University Registrar regarding registration periods for the spring semester. This spring, course registration will open December 1 through December 11 (with seniors beginning their registration on December 1; juniors beginning on December 2; sophomores beginning on December 3; and first year students beginning on December 4). You may already view course listings to help you plan and these listings will continue to be updated over the coming weeks. Your academic advisors should continue to be a resource for you as you make your course selection and registration decisions.

Since many students will continue to take their courses in a remote online mode, all Columbia Engineering courses will be available fully online and many courses will also be hybrid (meaning opportunity to be in-person or remote). For hybrid classes, you may register to attend in person If you are on campus or if you are living in the NYC area.

I’d like to extend my appreciation to all of you who filled out the Fall 2020 Academic Experience survey. Your feedback has been valuable in providing a number of important takeaways for us to further enhance our programs. The feedback indicated general appreciation for the faculty efforts in the courses and online curriculum, particularly the new ability for asynchronous access to lectures and materials in most classes. Many of you have understandably expressed a desire for ways to deepen and strengthen connections with faculty and student peers while remote, and we will continue to enhance those opportunities in and outside the “classroom” as we prepare for spring. In particular, we will be launching two co-curricular Columbia Design Challenges and also further expand our undergraduate research opportunities.

As we continue through the fall, I remind you of the upcoming Silberstein Innovators and Leaders Seminar where I will host a conversation with our prestigious alumnae Ursula Burns (former CEO of Xerox and Veon) this Friday, November 20 at 9 am EDT and with Ya-Qin Zhang (former President of Baidu) on Friday, December 4 at 9 am EDT.

As we continue to navigate the trajectory of this pandemic together, please know that your wishes and concerns are very much a part of our planning for the Spring semester and beyond. We look forward to a time when we can all be on campus together once more as one Columbia community.

Please continue to stay healthy and safe.

Mary C. Boyce
Dean of Engineering
Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor