I cannot begin to express what it has meant to me to serve in this role for this magnificent University for over two decades. Certainly, it has been a defining experience of my life. It has also been an especially high pleasure to do so at the beginning of the new century and in a period of rising intellectual excellence across the institution. No university in the world is more committed to the life of the mind or possessed of the will to bring knowledge and ideas to the service of humanity. Columbia is remarkably agile, creative, fresh, and experimental. I am certain that the conditions are present for an even more brilliant future in the decades ahead. And I will leave confident that our potential and aspirations will be realized.
For myself, I entered academic life nearly 50 years ago believing that being a professor is a noble calling, and, so, I am thrilled to return to that mission full-time. I am profoundly grateful to everyone for their partnership and friendship, but I am especially thankful to my wife, Jean, whose contributions within and through Columbia have been many, whose life as an artist has been made at times somewhat more difficult by mine, and whose very existence makes me a better person.
With so much to do in the remaining months, there is, of course, no time to rest. As always, I am eager to be part of Columbia’s amazing contributions to the world.