Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
September 9, 2021
Dear Baruch College Community,
On Saturday, our nation and the world commemorate the somber 20th anniversary of 9/11. More than 3,000 people died during the terrorist attacks at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines Flight 93. And the death toll has continued to rise as those who worked at Ground Zero succumb to 9/11-related illnesses. We pause to remember all who lost loved ones and all who lost their lives, including 38 members of the Baruch community.
I was not in New York City that day. I was a professor at the Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 80 miles away from New York City. Notwithstanding that physical distance, I was profoundly affected. I remember that September day—with a clear, blue sky—and that I was teaching a large class when the news broke. I remember many of my students had family members and friends working in the Twin Towers, and they were shocked, confused, and shaken. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national consciousness.
Baruch Responds to 9/11 with Generosity
I have since learned how Baruch responded in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11, and I am filled with pride.
Baruch partnered with the National Guard and the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management to provide much-needed space and services to first responders and relief workers. For the hundreds who lined the sidewalks outside the Lexington Avenue Armory, desperate for information about missing loved ones, Baruch offered a comfortable place to wait in the lobby of the newly opened Vertical Campus. Faculty and staff with mental health training offered assistance.
Baruch’s Field Center for Entrepreneurship helped New York City businesses obtain federal emergency relief, with some loans disbursed in less than 48 hours of the tragedy. The Subotnick Financial Services Center welcomed 30 displaced Wall Street traders—what was purely an educational facility became an actual trading floor. Baruch students organized concerts for first responders, and clubs collected funds for the American Red Cross relief effort.
At every turn, the Baruch community demonstrated its grit, compassion, and can-do spirit. Its collective response reflected our mission to serve and our responsibility to lead.
It is not hard to see the parallels between the time 20 years ago and the present: sadness, fear, vulnerability, uncertainty, as well as determination, resolve, and perseverance. We continue to come together to face adversity and our society’s most serious challenges, which provides all of us with a sense of hope for the future. New York will come back as it always has, and so will Baruch.
S. David Wu
President, Baruch College