Students at the NYUAD graduation ceremony in 2017. The university is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: For more than a decade of operations, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has grown from an inaugural class of just 140 students to 1,800 students from more than 120 countries. In the meantime, more than 1,650 students have graduated from the Abu Dhabi-based institution, which now boasts of 25 undergraduate programmes and 13 post-graduate courses.

The university, established in partnership between New York University and Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday kicked off its tenth anniversary celebrations, with a media roundtable and a special welcome message from UAE and international leaders.

Bold mission

Dr Mariet Westermann
Dr Mariet Westermann, the NYUAD vice-chancellor, during the roundtable. Image Credit: Supplied

“Ten years ago, Abu Dhabi and New York University set out together on a bold mission: To establish one of the world’s greatest universities, fuelled by the intellectual quality of NYU and grounded in the crossroads of Abu Dhabi. The university would be a beacon of diversity, tolerance and academic excellence. NYUAD would be tireless in its pursuit of talent, attracting the most accomplished and aspiring students and the most distinguished and dynamic professors — from the UAE and around the world. Our faculty would bring ambitious research and innovative teaching. We would cultivate the curiosity of our students and their commitment to creating a more empathetic, fair and cooperative world. Through our integration into NYU’s global network of sites, our students would learn the world in depth. They would go on to become leaders in their fields of enterprise,” said Dr Mariet Westermann, the NYUAD vice-chancellor, during the roundtable.

“We knew we could create a leading institution for the region and indeed the world. But we did not know how fast we could do it. Today, NYUAD is ranked 26th in the world by Times Higher Education, [and 11th in the world by QS in terms of graduate employability rankings]. NYUAD now is that distinctive campus and anchor institution for the UAE community,” she added.

The university, established in partnership between New York University and Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday kicked off its tenth anniversary celebrations. Image Credit: Supplied

Next frontier

Offering an American liberal arts and science curriculum, the university is now looking at growing its postgraduate offerings in line with the UAE’s strategic vision, Dr Westermann said.

Almuni speak

Addressing the media, Musbah Ormago, a student from the university’s inaugural Batch of 2014, talked about what a brave yet rewarding leap it had been to join a brand new university in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

“I wanted to travel the world and mingle with people from different cultures and become an independent person. I wanted to live in an optimistic place that was in tune with the times. I didn’t have a plan on how it would come to fruition, but I knew an opportunity would come along if I focussed on my education. Little did I know how I would end up in Abu Dhabi and build my career and family here. NYUAD invested in my potential and gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of learning the foundation for a meaningful and independent life,” Ormago said. Once a student who helped the university’s student government charter and establish its football club, he is now working in Abu Dhabi’s philanthropy sector, committed to give back to the community.

Rima Al Mokarrab
Tamkeen Chair -- Rima Al Mokarrab. Image Credit: Supplied

Shamma Al Bastaki, Emirati artist and poet and a 2018 NYUAD graduate, credited the university for her rich career. She had double majored in Literature and Creative Writing, and Social Research and Public Policy, at the university.

“NYUAD is an experience in the fullest, most vibrant. It was the avenue for many of the opportunities that helped me carve out a meaningful career trajectory, such as being an ambassador for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, interning at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC, and studying abroad in Florence, London, New York. As a student now of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, I truly could not be more grateful for the strong academic foundation, and for the world view with which NYUAD equipped me,” she said.

Celebratory talks

NAT 191220 NYUAD- image 1-1576853406775
The NYUAD campus. Image Credit: Supplied

To mark its ten-year celebrations, NYUAD is hosting a series of talks — Tenth Talks — by notable people, including NYU president Andrew Hamilton, former French President Francois Hollande, and UAE Ambassador to Spain and former UAE Chief Climate Change Negotiator at COP21 Majid Al Suwaidi. Among other speakers is renowned primatologist Dr Jane Goodall, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security Mariam AlMheiri, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Al Olama, UAE Minister for Youth and Culture Noura Al Kaabi, as well as faculty, alumni and scholars.

The university will also premier a feature-length documentary film titled ‘This is NYU Abu Dhabi’ by BAFTA and Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker and NYUAD guest lecturer Anthony Geffen. The film tells the story of NYUAD through the eyes of students and faculty — joining them on their learning, teaching and research journeys at the university and beyond.

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A decade in figures:

-140 students in inaugural batch, 1,800 students in current batch.

-16 Rhodes scholars, more per capital than any university in the world

-95% of alumni secure employment, graduate study or independent creative or business opportunities within six months of graduation.

-Emiratis make up the largest student demographic at 18%.

-34 per cent of graduates decide to make the UAE their home.

-11 global PhD fellowships in collaboration with NYU in New York, and two master’s programmes — a Master of Fine Arts in Art and Media and a Master of Science in Economics.

-25 undergraduate majors across Arts and Humanities, Engineering, Science, Social Sciences.

-300 faculty members.

-100+ patents filed.

-3,600-plus research publications so far by faculty and researchers.

-250+ creative works produced.

-100+ initiatives in response to COVID-19, contributing to UAE and global efforts against the virus.

-400+ performances by the The Arts Center, as well as 12 landmark exhibitions and 22 new works.