2020 Year in Pictures

Columbia News takes a look back at some of the visual highlights of a year like no other, viewing a handful of landmark events, achievements, and campus traditions new and old through the lenses of photographers from across our community.

22 fencing athletes and coaches pose with a championship trophy against a green Ivy League athletics backdrop in a fencing room.

Undefeated champions: In February 2020, the Columbia Fencing women's team won its third consecutive outright title with a 6-0 record at the 2020 Ivy League Round Robin Fencing Championships. The men's team finished in second place at the annual event, which took place at Harvard's Gordon Indoor Track. Photo courtesy of Sideline Photos/The Ivy League.

Professor Jelani Cobb and Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter sit in tan chairs in front of a black backdrop in an auditorium at The Forum.

In February, Columbia's African American and African Diaspora Studies Department launched the Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter Lecture Series, honoring the New York City-born rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. The series kicked off with an unforgettable conversation between JAY-Z and Professor of Journalism Jelani Cobb for an auditorium full of students and faculty at The Forum. Photo by Eileen Barroso. 

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, poses against blue banners reading "Columbia University World Leaders Forum."

In early March, Sanna Marin, the youngest prime minister in Finland's history, spoke at Columbia's World Leaders Forum about climate change, gender equality, and social welfare. The event marked one of the last in-person events held at Columbia before campuses closed due to COVID-19. Photo by Eileen Barroso.

A person in full-body Personal Protective Equipment, mask, and face shield stands with a stop sign at an entrance to a New York City bodega.

Renowned urban documentarian Camilo José Vergara (GSAS'77) revealed how COVID-19 is affecting people in the hardest-hit New York City neighborhoods through his photos in the National Building Museum's photography exhibition series "Documenting Crossroads."⁣ Vergara writes: ⁣“I have traveled from crossroad to crossroad in order to document the pandemic in some of the most severely affected urban areas, most of them in New York City. These intersections are social condensers and amplifiers, yet they are barely mentioned in media depictions of the virus and its impact.”⁣ Photo by Camilo José Vergara.

Two shepherds ride horses to usher a group of sheep along a pasture with a backdrop of clear blue sky.

Columbia celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by asking our community to share images of places and projects around the world showing our "Beautiful Planet." This photo spotlights shepherds in Uruguay, outside of Montevideo. Columbia's International Research Institute for Climate and Society worked with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to "climate-proof" its vital agriculture sector, which is vulnerable to droughts and flooding. Photo by Francesco Fiondella.

Two teams of six Thunderbird and Blue Angels jet planes fly across a blue sky with clouds over Columbia University's Morningside campus buildings.

In April, the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels flew over Columbia and New York City to honor frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers. Thank you to our Columbia frontline and essential workers! Photo by Jennifer Pellerito. 

Two Columbia graduates in graduation caps and gowns pop champagne in front of Butler Library.

2020 Columbia graduates will always hold a unique place in Columbia history. Although commencement was held virtually for the first time in the University's history, these graduates found a way to celebrate on Morningside campus. We are proud and inspired by our resilient graduates. Photo by Eileen Barroso.

Two people walking two dogs each, one wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, cross Columbia's Morningside campus.

Columbians stay healthy by donning masks across campus and spreading the message that Black Lives Matter after a historic summer that heralded a racial justice reckoning across the country. Photo by Eileen Barroso.

In the photo on the left, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses against a Blue Columbia Law School backdrop and on the right the statue of Alma Mater is covered in signs and flowers honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In September, the Columbia community mourned the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (LAW’59) and an impromptu memorial popped up at Alma Mater with flowers, signs, and messages written on legal pads to honor the late Supreme Court Justice. Photo on the left courtesy of Bruce Gilbert/Columbia Law School. Photo on the right by Eileen Barroso.

A collage of diverse faces posing with "I Voted" Stickers.

A historic election turned out historic voter numbers and the Columbia community was part of it. Columbia Voters stepped into our virtual photo booth to be counted among the most politically engaged.

Five people stand in front of Columbia University's gates holding turkeys to give away.

Columbia Community Service and Columbia Dining partnered with West Side Campaign Against Hunger and St. Paul and St. Andrew churches to provide Thanksgiving meals to families in need. Photo by Bruce Gilbert.

A view down College Walk looking up at trees covered in white holiday lights.

Nothing signals the start of winter on Morningside campus more than the annual lighting of the trees on College Walk, even if it looks a little less crowded than normal. Columbia wishes everyone the best during this very different holiday season. Photo by Eileen Barroso.

Enjoyed this photographic journey through the last year? Don't miss our 2020 Year in Review, covering the top Columbia News stories of the year.