Yesterday marked at least two milestones. It was the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, the first time humans walked on the Moon. And it was six months to the day after the start of the Trump administration. For different reasons, both of those events seem a very long time ago.
Director's Weekly Reports
It doesn’t matter whether you measure your academic summer by the major league baseball schedule or the time between commencement and the start of fall classes. This week we passed the halfway mark.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Montana yesterday and a record-setting heat wave in southern California brought to a close a holiday-punctuated week that also marked the beginning of a new academic year.
Today marks not merely the end of a month but the end of the university’s fiscal year. A blizzard of personnel and financial matters should finally clear for a time, permitting the latest professional and scientific milestones to gain appropriate attention.
The summer solstice fell on Wednesday this week. The hours of daylight will progressively shorten each day for the next six months, but thankfully there is compensating good news.
It was the last full week of spring, with high temperatures early in the week to foreshadow the coming season, and a giant American flag draped from the superstructure of the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday to announce to those of us commuting from the city that it was Flag Day.
This week included World Oceans Day, a day celebrated “to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans” (http://www.worldoceansday.org/about). I hope that each of you took a moment this week to acknowledge the importance of the world’s oceans for Earth’s climate and ecology.
This week will be remembered for President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a move that the Editorial Board of The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/trump-paris-climate-change-agreement.html?_r=0) lamented has “dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness as well as job growth in
Even with the spring semester now over, this week was a busy one at the Observatory.
It was Commencement Week at Columbia, and a week that saw a record high temperature for the date yesterday in Central Park and many other locations in the region.
Notwithstanding the events since Tuesday in Washington, D.C. – variously compared in the media with the Saturday Night Massacre and a rerun of The Apprentice – this week was notable for the public launch of Columbia University’s new capital campaign.
This week heralded the end of the spring semester, with the last day of classes on Monday and the first day of the final exam period today.
This week ended unexpectedly, with a campus closure today as a result of a break in our pressurized main sewer. The break was discovered by our Facilities staff yesterday afternoon, and its source was confirmed by a dye test. Our staff shut off the sewer pumps and the water to the campus and notified the county health department. This morning the gas and other utility lines in the area of the break were marked out, and our team began digging to carry out the repair work.
It has been a week bookended by named lectures.
Politico circulated a story last week that workers at the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy were told to avoid the phrase “climate change” in written communications and briefings (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/energy-department-climate-change-phrases-banned-236655). Earth’s climate, of course, will continue to evolve no matter what language is used by officials in Washington.
The week began with the vernal equinox on Monday. New York City weather did not seem to take notice.
As if to mock Columbia University’s Spring Recess, this week was punctuated by a major snowstorm Tuesday that left more than 7 inches of snow in Central Park, dropped greater totals of frozen precipitation in surrounding areas, and closed the Observatory for a full day.
Yael Kiro learned this week that she is to receive the Prof. Rafi Freund Award from the Israel Geological Society. The award, named for a former professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is given to recognize outstanding papers in the geological sciences published over the past three years. Yael was lauded for two papers published last year and this on the analysis of sediments cored from the floor of the Dead Sea in terms of changes to the hydrology of the area over the last three interglacial periods.