I am writing at this fearful moment to add my—and, I know, our—words of condemnation for what has occurred today in the nation’s Capitol, and for all that has happened over many years to enable and incite it. There will be short and long-term consequences to these events. Many will necessarily and properly be consumed with correcting the former. The role of the university is primarily with the latter.
Columbia’s history spans that of the nation, present at the beginning and now here today. Viewed over this expanse of time, we have witnessed harrowing moments and great triumphs in the life of the nation. Columbia often played civic roles that are now a source of pride. This recent descent of the Republic into the present abyss will force us to question whether fundamental structures of our political system—structures designed to avoid this very outcome—have failed the test of time and need to be revised and reformed. Dedicated research and wisdom will be needed to identify and collect these ideas. The University can make an important contribution to this process, helping to lead the nation in the development of an agenda for fulfilling the vital but battered ideals so precious to us and so worthy of our commitment. This we will do. I will be consulting with many of our faculty and community to begin this work and will report back soon.