The 2019/2020 academic year started well with no anticipation of what was in store for the second semester and how the year would end. New students were welcomed on campus and included international students and international faculty members. It was business as usual, a beautiful and colorful fall semester that transitioned into a cold winter season. Spring arrived after a long winter season and it was off to a good start as well until the pandemic hit.
This paper reflects on how an institution with multiple sites responded to the pandemic and what the impact of those disruptions were on the core activities of a university. As a university with the largest number of international students and a footprint on every continent, the university had to coordinate its activities around the world to complete the academic year and start another one. The university is the largest private employer in the city with over 50,000 students and more than 19,000 employees. The main focus of this reflection paper is the New York city campus where the author is based and key areas of this reflections include the impact of the pandemic on international students, teaching, research and funding related issues. Activities were normalized through central command instructions and guidance that were sometimes helpful and at other times overwhelming, but the work continued and the academic year was completed. The new academic year started with minor variations on the start dates. For example, the portal campuses at Abu Dhabi started on Sunday 6th September and New York city campus started on Wednesday 2nd September, whilst the Shanghai campus started on Monday the 14th. Reflections include personal impact and experiences within the academic setting.