10 Columbia Faculty and Staff on What to Expect From the Biden-Harris Administration

With the inauguration behind them, what will President Biden and Vice President Harris tackle in the next days, months, and years?

Kelly Moffitt
January 22, 2021

As the dust settles following the historic inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20, the minds of Americans are naturally turning to the question: “What will the coming days, months, and years actually look like under the Biden-Harris administration?” 

Luckily, Columbia faculty and staff have been pondering these questions and offer a roadmap of how the next four years might look. Below, find nine insights on what to expect going forward, grabbed straight from the headlines of major news organizations across the country.


A tan woman with black hair is photographed from the shoulders up in a tan pashmina and white shirt against a grey background.

Wafaa El-Sadr

Director, University Professor and Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health

The New York Times: Biden Should Boost COVID Vaccine Supply With New Manufacturing Plan

“Biden can solve the U.S. and worldwide vaccine shortages by using a strategy inspired by the one our country used to address the AIDS crisis. Mr. Biden can marshal the federal government’s resources to manufacture additional vaccine supplies and combine that move with vigorous efforts to boost distribution.”


A man in a dark grey suit and grey hair with glasses.

Michael Gerrard

Founder and Faculty Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

The Washington Post: “The Energy 202: What Merrick Garland as Attorney General Means for the Environment

“As the Biden administration restores safeguards and cuts emissions, Garland also will make sure the Environmental Protection Agency and other offices dot their i's and cross their t's when shifting policies.”


A black man with short black hair poses in a white shirt and blue suit jacket against a neutral background.

Jamal Greene

Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia Law

Philadelphia Inquirer: Reimagining the Presidency: 3 Constitutional Revisions That Might Bring America Back From the Brink

“It isn’t enough, for example, to give Americans voting rights if the institutions they are voting for are themselves anti-democratic. Accordingly, our Constitution eliminates the indefensible Electoral College, replacing it with a national popular vote for president.”


A close-up photo of a man in sunglasses standing against a leafy background with a white beard and white hair.

Geoffrey Heal

Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise Economics, Columbia Business School 

Wall Street Journal: What’s on Biden’s Business and Economic To-Do List

“U.S. companies have massive investments in China, and China’s becoming more of a competitor world-wide. Sorting out an amicable functional relationship with China is enormously important to a lot of businesses. … When we look back on the Biden administration in 10 years’ time, I suspect how he dealt with China will be big.”


A woman with shoulder-length blond hair and a black top poses against a neutral background.

Nicole Hemmer

Associate Research Scholar, Obama Presidency Oral History Project

CNN: “Biden Rescinding the 1776 Commission Doesn't End the Fight Over History”

“In dissolving the 1776 Commission on his first day in office, President Biden helped end one source of misinformation about our past, a reminder that, as we work to restore democracy, we will need to restore honest inquiry and accurate history as well.”


A white man with grey hair and glasses in a black suit poses against a neutral background.

Christopher Hill

George W. Ball Adjunct Professor, School of International and Public Affairs

The Hill: “Like His Predecessors, Biden Faces a Formidable Task With North Korea

“For the incoming Biden administration, the task ahead is formidable. The longer North Korea develops and modernizes its program, the more difficult it will be to end it. Some argue that the horse has left the barn and that what remains is to limit the problem.”


A tan man with black hair and in a grey suit is photographed from the shoulders-up against a grey background.

Jameel Jaffer

Executive Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

The Hill: “A First Amendment Agenda for Biden's First 100 Days

“President Biden can begin on day one by rescinding three executive orders that embodied President Trump’s authoritarian impulses: his order threatening social media platforms; his order barring businesses and individuals from conducting many kinds of diversity training; and his order imposing sanctions on staff of the International Criminal Court and American scholars and advocates who work with the court."

A woman with long brown hair and in a white lab coat and blue dress poses against a grey background.

Dara Kass, MD

Associate Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

CBC:These Americans Express Optimism Biden Can Turn the Tide on Pandemic

"We're going to see, I think, the president-elect … come out with innovative and, you know, really necessary improvements to our health-care system that will start to build the foundation … for a public option that's a stopgap for all Americans to have access to a public health program that fills their needs."


A woman with curly brown hair and a white shirt and turquoise necklace is photographed against a white wall.

Sukyi McMahon

Manager, Roundtable on the Future of Justice Policy, Justice Lab

The Hill: Biden Needs to Appoint a Secretary of Racial Justice to the Cabinet

“Confronting racism must be part of Biden’s renewed commitment to justice. He could start here: a secretary of Racial Justice in the cabinet. This position would be responsible for coordinating actions to correct racial disparities across the administration.”


A man with glasses, grey hair, and a beard poses in a black suit jacket against a grey background.

Irwin Redlener, MD

Senior Research Scholar and Director, Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative, National Center for Disaster Preparedness

Salon: Medical Experts Hail President Biden's Early and Aggressive COVID-19 Push

“His national mask mandate on federal property is an 'appropriate and important national example of what needs to be done — and what he can do directly and immediately.'"