A Letter from Brian H. Polovoy, Interim President
October 30, 2020
To the I-House Community,
Thank you all for the warm welcome you have given me since I took on the role of Interim President earlier this month. It is exciting to see the impressive energy, dedication, and support of our community members, particularly during these extraordinary times. My conversations with the Board, the staff, residents, and many alumni have affirmed for me the affection and respect we share for the House, and I know that together we are all creatively engaged in making today’s resident experience–limited though it may be–as powerful as possible.
Earlier this month, we enjoyed a picnic to welcome the new residents, and I was thrilled to see several Trustees join. In part because of our reduced population, we were grateful to be able to hold the event in Sakura Park, just outside our beautiful House overlooking Riverside Park and the Hudson River. Although it will be some time before we have a full House, we are creating as many safe ways as possible for our current members-–92 residents from 27 countries at the time of this writing–-to live the I-House experience. We are slowly reopening amenities like the Study Center, and will soon be kicking off a series of our signature “Ice Cream Socials”–-which in 2020 means a maximum of ten residents per event, with everyone getting their own pint of Ben & Jerry’s!
Building on the progress I-House made under Calvin Sims’ leadership will be exciting and challenging as we navigate the uncertainty created by the pandemic. We owe a debt of gratitude to Calvin for many things, including his leadership of this institution through the earliest stages of this global crisis. His top priority then was the same as mine is now: to protect the safety of residents and staff at the House. That mandate holds our constant vigilance, as we monitor the virus progression and its impact on our community and adapt our operations and facilities to face the challenges.
Looking ahead, there will be more challenges to face. The most important variables are out of our control: when more graduate students would once again study on campus in New York, whether international students would be able to do so, and when the pandemic might abate. In this environment, we will continue to do our best for current residents, and turn to our advantage the “virtual” nature of our programming by inviting the entire global community to experience the House with us. For example, we are working on a series of programs on U.S./China relations that–-circumstances permitting–-will be broadcast live to alumni and others worldwide. We hope that the thought of presenting a serious program with leading speakers on a critical topic “Live from Davis Hall” is as exciting to you as it is to me and my colleagues.
Finally, I want to express my deep gratitude for the support the House has received during this time from Trustees, alumni, and friends of the House in all corners of the world. With your help, we are continuing to do important work for an important mission–-a mission that is particularly necessary in the current climate. I am honored to roll up my sleeves and join you in that work. Carved into stone above the entrance outside my office is the enduring reason for our work: “That Brotherhood May Prevail.” I believe this institution must continue its pursuit of that noble end. And with your continued support, it will.
We will be offering many opportunities to get to know Brian in the coming months, and he’s happy to hear from you. Click here to let us know if you have any questions.
(Photo courtesy of Peter O’Neill)