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June 2: Community COVID-19 Newsletter

To the Princeton University community,

Over the past few days, the University community has celebrated the undergraduates and graduate students of the great Class of 2020. At the same time, we have decried the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and we continue to grapple with how this country’s legacy of racism damages and destroys the lives of black people while the COVID-19 pandemic kills black and brown Americans at higher rates than other groups.

On Sunday, May 31, President Christopher L. Eisgruber shared a message on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism as part of his remarks for the virtual Commencement ceremony. You can also read the statement in full below.

We also share below details about the June 3 virtual event “From Lament to Prophecy: A Litany for Black Lives” hosted by the Office of Religious Life, as well as the June 8 virtual conversation with Princeton faculty, alumni and staff on “Race in the COVID Era: What America’s History of Racism and Xenophobia Means for Today.”

Also spotlighted in this week’s edition:

  • On June 3, valedictorian Nicholas Johnson will talk about the power of mentorship and blazing trails for underrepresented minorities in STEM. The virtual conversation on Zoom will feature Johnson, Princeton Professor William Massey, Dr. Marian Croak of Google, and The College of New Jersey Professor Kim Pearson.
  • University planning for the phased resumption of on-campus research at a date to be determined.
  • The Princeton University Library’s resumption of two limited, essential services for University faculty, researchers, postdocs and graduate students on June 8.
  • And as always, please continue to check the University’s coronavirus website for more information and updates.

Statement from President Eisgruber on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism

President Christopher L. Eisgruber released the following statement on May 31 as part of his remarks to the University’s virtual Commencement ceremony. In his prepared remarks for Commencement, President Eisgruber also addressed the ongoing challenges the graduates and the University face during this global pandemic.

“In my Commencement address for today’s virtual ceremony, I say that members of the Class of 2020 graduate into hard times, and that the world needs not only their talent, but their insight, courage, and compassion. Though I recorded that speech less than two weeks ago, intervening events have reminded us that COVID-19 is not the only tragic challenge facing our students and our world.

We have witnessed yet again how this nation’s long legacy of racism continues to damage and destroy the lives of black people. The heartless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis occurred soon after the unjust shootings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.  It coincided with the appalling harassment of Christian Cooper in New York’s Central Park, an incident that demonstrated how easily a racist complaint could put a black man in danger. The COVID-19 pandemic itself has killed black and brown Americans at higher rates than other groups, magnifying disparities in healthcare and economic well-being.

We all have a responsibility to stand up against racism, wherever and whenever we encounter it. Commitments to diversity, inclusivity, and human rights are fundamental to the mission of Princeton University. I ask all of us to join the graduates in the Class of 2020 in their quest to form a better society, one that confronts racism honestly and strives relentlessly for equality and justice.”

June 3: “The Power of Mentors: Blazing Paths for Underrepresented Minorities in STEM”

Since his selection as Princeton’s first black valedictorian, Nicholas Johnson has spoken eloquently about the importance of role models and mentors to his success at the University. In the virtual conversation, “The Power of Mentors: Blazing Paths for Underrepresented Minorities in STEM.”

Johnson and an array of distinguished Princeton alumni will explore this topic in greater depth in a live conversation on Zoom on Wednesday, June 3, at 9:15 a.m. Please register to attend. Speakers include:

  • Professor William Massey, Class of 1977, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering;
  • Dr. Marian Croak, Class of 1977, Vice President of Engineering at Google
  • Kim Pearson, Class of 1978, Associate Professor of Journalism at The College of New Jersey

June 3: “A Litany for Black Lives”

The Office of Religious Life will host the virtual event “From Lament to Prophecy: A Litany for Black Lives,” on Wednesday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. with dialogue to follow at 8 p.m. More information is available on the Office of Religious Facebook page.

The video will be available on the ORL YouTube page and ORL will provide a space for reflection during a Zoom dialogue at 8 p.m. ET. Please register in advance with your Princeton email address.

Additionally, the Office of Religious Life also encourages the campus community to visit its website or reach out to one of the University’s chaplains for more resources and programs.

June 8: Racism and Xenophobia 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)

University Planning for Phased Resumption of On-Campus Research

The University has created a plan for the phased resumption of on-campus research in a safe and orderly manner, and as promptly as circumstances permit. The dates for the resumption of on-campus research have yet to be determined.

The plan asks faculty and department leadership to create procedures to resume laboratory activities while ensuring compliance with University-wide policies and public health guidance. The plan applies only to laboratory-based research on campus. Any work that can be done remotely will continue to be done remotely.

The exact timing of the resumption of on-campus research will be determined by the University’s leadership, taking into account the relevant local, state, and national public health guidance regarding stay-at-home and social distancing directives.

“Our goal is to enable the smooth restart of Princeton’s extraordinary on-campus research enterprise, with the health and safety of the campus community as our paramount concern,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering, and chair of the Committee on Phased Resumption of On-Campus Research, which led the development of the plan.

More information about research activities in light of COVID-19 can be found on the Office of the Dean for Research website.

Library Will Resume Two Priority Services for University Faculty, Researchers, Graduate Students

On May 29, Princeton University Library (PUL) announced two priority services in its phased resumption of on-site services — available starting on June 8 only to Princeton University faculty, researchers, postdocs and graduate students:

Princeton University Library’s Return Task Force has finalized plans for the phased resumption of on-site library services beginning with two priority services which will provide access to library materials for Princeton University faculty, researchers, postdocs and graduate students. The two priority services are book pick-up and in-house digitization and will begin the week of June 8 with Firestone Library providing the first available pick-up location in a designated area. Branches will follow during that week. 

Library locations will not be open to the public or patrons. Patrons will not be allowed beyond the designated pick-up areas. Social distancing and wearing a face covering/mask will be required for picking up books. Library staff will also be following social distancing and other protocol requirements as outlined by the CDC, State and University. Beginning June 8, book pick-up requests can be made via a link on the online catalog pages. This phased resumption of specific services is in line with current state guidance. The BorrowDirect service continues to be suspended at this time.

These steps are part of the process President Eisgruber detailed in his message to the community of May 4 regarding Princeton’s research and teaching enterprise in light of COVID-19.

If you have any questions, please email Read the full announcement on the PUL website.

Enjoy Virtual Commencement and Hooding Ceremonies Again

The University honored the Class of 2020 during a virtual Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 31. You can re-watch the ceremony on the Commencement page and the Media Central webpage.

The virtual Commencement ceremony featured:

You can also re-watch the Graduate School’s virtual Hooding ceremony, which was held on May 29, on the Commencement page and the Graduate School’s website. The virtual Hooding ceremony featured an address by President Eisgruber and remarks by Dean of the Graduate School Sarah-Jane Leslie. 

The virtual ceremonies were complemented on social media with congratulatory messages from faculty, staff, family and friends. Parents, friends and loved ones around the globe sent their congratulatory messages to the Great Class of 2020!

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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