A Letter from Executive Vice President Shailagh Murray to the Community

Shailagh Murray
December 12, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Warm greetings from your newest neighbor. I’m not the most obvious person to step into this role: I’m a former foreign correspondent who was raised in the South, worked in government at the federal level, and has never lived in New York City.

Needless to say, I have much to learn about Morningside Heights, Harlem, and the Manhattanville campus and from the countless individuals who contribute to “the ongoing creation of a great university,” as President Lee Bollinger said at the Forum opening in September.

I hope you will find me an enthusiastic partner. My only preconceived notion is a deep belief that all of us play a role in making our communities stronger and our society more just. Great institutions like universities can and should play central roles in connecting people of different backgrounds and interests but shared aspirations. To me, this sort of collaborative energy is essential to making big things happen, whether for our neighborhood, our city, our country, or the world.

My role as Executive Vice President for Public Affairs will combine two disciplines that are essential to the University: communications and community relations. And as the Manhattanville story transitions from architectural renderings and construction pits to an open, bustling modern campus, we must not only fulfill our promises to you, but open up new channels of communicating and working together.

Eight years ago, I said goodbye to a 20-year career in journalism to accept the offer of a lifetime: a chance to work for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Among the many lessons I learned in my six years at the White House is that change really does start with individuals, on city blocks, in neighborhoods and communities, where people are most likely to be invested in each other.

I look forward to working with all of you, and encourage you to reach out to me with any ideas, concerns, or other feedback.

Shailagh Murray

This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of The Columbia Newsletter, which is available for download.