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May 28: Community COVID-19 Newsletter

To the Princeton University community,

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered our campus and our world, the most important Princeton traditions endure. We look forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 during a virtual Commencement ceremony on May 31 and recognizing graduate students earning their master’s and doctoral degrees during a virtual Hooding ceremony on May 29. While we cannot be together in person to celebrate these achievements, we hope you will join us online and via social media to honor all of our graduating students. More information about the virtual ceremonies and related events, along with a social and digital celebration toolkit, can be found below and on the Commencement website. Get excited for #Princeton20!

Also featured below in this week’s newsletter:

  • The latest example of how Princeton researchers are contributing to our understanding of the health effects of COVID-19.
  • New episodes of the ‘We Roar’ podcast featuring Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson *03 and Rabbi Ira Dounn from Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life.  
  • A spotlight on Humanities Council lecturer Noah Buchholz, who serves as one of the Certified Deaf Interpreters for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily press conferences.
  • An upcoming webinar discussing race in the COVID-19 era with New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim, Princeton faculty, staff and alumni.

A reminder that work continues as we progress towards a decision in early July on whether the undergraduate teaching program will be online or residential this fall. In the meantime, work also continues around how to reopen, safely and responsibly, Princeton’s laboratories, libraries, and other facilities when state law permits.

As always, please continue to check the University’s coronavirus website for the latest updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Celebrate Virtual Hooding, Commencement This Week

The University will honor the Class of 2020 during a virtual Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 31, at 1 p.m. ET. The ceremony will be streamed on the Commencement page, the University homepage, the Media Central Live page as well as on Princeton’s Facebook and Twitter.

The Graduate School will host a virtual Hooding ceremony on Friday, May 29, at 4 p.m. ET. Many of the University’s academic departments, programs, institutes, centers, and student organizations also are hosting virtual celebrations to honor their graduates.

More information about end-of-year virtual ceremonies and events are available on the Commencement website. The website also contains a “Celebration Kit” with digital and social media assets available for download.

Please use #Princeton20 on social media for all Commencement-related content. The Commencement website will feature social media tagged with #Princeton20 in the feed at the bottom of the page.

You can also add an extra touch of Princeton on your social media content with Princeton GIFs and stickers available on Princeton’s new GIPHY brand channel. Explore Princeton GIFs for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok and elsewhere to celebrate virtual Reunions and Commencement.

AI Tool Gives Doctors a New Look at the Lungs In Treating COVID-19

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton researchers have developed a diagnostic tool to analyze chest X-rays for patterns in diseased lungs. The new tool could give doctors valuable information about a patient’s condition, quickly and cheaply, at the point of care.

Jason Fleischer, professor of electrical engineering and the project’s principal investigator, said he was inspired to create the tool after reading about COVID-19′s devastating range of attacks. As hospitals have been overrun with patients, doctors have observed two basic types of lung damage, one more immediately life-threatening than the other. Treatment can differ between the types, so distinguishing the two could improve care and better allocate scarce resources.

Read more about this important research on the University homepage.

We Roar Podcast Features Dallas Mayor, CJL Rabbi

In the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson *03 talks about the challenges of governing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson received an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

In addition to dealing with the immediate health crisis, Johnson also must consider the safest way to reopen his city’s economy and make up for a multimillion-dollar budgetary shortfall.

“There's just no playbook for what we're dealing with,” Johnson said. “This is like starting a race that someone tells you, you know, on your mark, get set, go, and doesn't tell you how far you got to run and when the race is going to end.”

Also featured this week on “We Roar” is Rabbi Ira Dounn, senior educator at Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life. Dounn talks about the pain of grieving in a socially distanced world and shares thoughts from students who are finding ways to maintain relationships with each other and with Princeton.

For those who are grieving the upheaval of the world — or the loss of a loved one — Dounn recommends showing up for each other, even if it has to be through a screen. “Just notice how they’re doing — in the screen — and be there with that person in active listening. And that will do a world of good,” Dounn says in the podcast.

Humanities Council Lecturer Provides Service to Deaf Community During the COVID-19 Crisis

Since the middle of March 2020, Noah Buchholz has been part of a team interpreting New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s press conferences during what is an unprecedented time in the state and worldwide.

Buchholz, a lecturer in the Humanities Council and the Program in Linguistics, has been teaching American Sign Language (ASL) at Princeton since the first course was established in 2017, and he now teaches a total of four ASL courses ranging from beginner to advanced.

A Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI), Buchholz is working with two other CDIs and four hearing ASL-English interpreters, taking turns to interpret Gov. Murphy’s daily COVID-19 press conferences.

Virtual Panel Will Discuss Race in the COVID-19 Era

The University community can join a virtual conversation that will situate the racial inequities amplified by COVID-19 within the United States' history of racism and xenophobia. The webinar “Race in the COVID Era: What America’s History of Racism and Xenophobia Means for Today”will be held Monday, June 8, at 4 p.m. ET.

Panelists will discuss strategies to address acts of hate targeting those of Chinese and Asian descent and the disproportionate toll of the pandemic on Black, Native American, and other historically marginalized populations. Please register in advance and a Zoom link to watch the webinar will be sent the morning of the event.

The discussion is the first event in a series on equity, inclusion, and COVID-19, and is sponsored by the Associate Provost for International Affairs and Operations and the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity.


  • Andy Kim, Congressman from New Jersey’s 3rd District
  • Beth Lew-Williams, Associate Professor of History
  • Keith Wailoo, Chair of the Department of History and the Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs
  • Helen Zia, Class of 1973, activist and author
  • Aly Kassam-Remtulla, Associate Provost for International Affairs (moderator)

Sign-up for Red Cross Blood Drives on Campus

The University continues to support the American Red Cross by holding several community blood drives on campus. The next blood drives are scheduled for June 3 and July 7 at the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, located at 58 Prospect Avenue. Please note appointments are required to participate. You can book your appointment to donate blood through the American Red Cross website or through the Red Cross app (Use the sponsor code “PrincetonFacStaff” after downloading the app on your mobile device).

The Red Cross has implemented added precautions to ensure blood drives are safe for donors and staff. The campus blood drives are sponsored by the Princeton University Office of Community and Regional Affairs and the John H. Pace, Jr. '39 Center for Civic Engagement.

Public Health Update

All students, faculty, staff, postdocs and researchers should contact University Health Services if they are tested for coronavirus, in any jurisdiction. Please email as soon as you are tested; do not wait for results to notify UHS.

The University will continue to provide regular updates on the number of tests and cases involving community members which UHS is aware of. These numbers, especially those involving students who no longer reside on campus, are based on self-reporting. The most recent update can be found at

University Health Services continues to support the University community through its on-campus and virtual services. Information on UHS hours, medical and psychological services, and virtual consultations is available on the UHS website.



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