A Year of Return and Moving Forward

June 22, 2023

Dear members of the NYUAD community,

I hope this message finds you filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of a remarkably successful academic year. As we bid farewell to our new graduates, it is also a moment to reflect on the way we advanced NYU Abu Dhabi’s mission together this year.

Our Tenth Commencement ceremony was a tribute not only to our remarkable, resilient, resourceful Class of 2023, but also to the dedication and hard work of all our students, faculty, and staff. Congratulating each of our graduates as always reminded me of what we offer: an education that helps our wonderfully talented students transform their potential into genuine accomplishment, self-realization, and leadership capacity. We are immensely proud of each graduate's accomplishments, and we are confident that their contributions will make a positive impact wherever they go.

Of special note, along with our graduating seniors, Masters of Economics, and Global PhD Fellows, all of our first MFA graduates crossed the stage! Their spectacular MFA thesis show can be seen all summer at Warehouse 421 in the Mina Zayed.

I have so much to say to all of these graduates who weathered the worst of the pandemic and graduated with resolve and purpose. If you would like a digest, my Commencement speech to them is here. Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

All through the spring and two J-Terms, our campus was abuzz with events and activities that fostered community, learning, and growth. Our first-ever Open Campus Day gave more than a thousand prospective students and their families a chance to experience our campus firsthand. We showcased our exceptional academic programs, faculty, and facilities, igniting a passion for knowledge and learning in the hearts of all who attended.

NYUAD’s 11th Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World demonstrated the brilliance and innovation of our students as they collaborated in teams to tackle the challenges of meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Their creativity and problem-solving manifested our culture of entrepreneurship, innovation, and social purpose.
As you will have noticed, NYUAD is playing a pivotal role in the UAE’s ambitious plans for COP 28 in Dubai this year. We chair the COP28 Universities Climate Network in the UAE, which is a highly active partnership with more than a dozen institutions of higher education to advance climate research, engage and support our youthful climate leaders, and advocate for sustainable change. Our students are so deeply involved in this work that NYUAD was selected to host the Student Energy Summit 2023 in November, the largest youth-led energy event in the world. It will be one of many climate events dotting our calendar next year.

Our Net Zero Now Week in May showcased the dedication of our community to reducing our carbon footprint not by 2030 or 2050, but now. Throughout the week we celebrated our commitment to climate action and to initiatives such as the Green Events guide and voluntary printing reductions. From public talks and research events to performances and a community nurdle hunt, our students, employees, and wider community members came together to learn and commit to doing their part.

Your unwavering dedication to urgent and sustainable action in support of a livable planet is truly commendable. Thank you for your inspiring initiatives.

We have lots to celebrate about this academic year, but we won’t rest on our laurels. Our journey toward excellence, innovation, inclusion, and sustainability continues, and we will build on our youthful institutional momentum. Our academic leadership and faculty have been planning new graduate programs and our first forays into professional education, in collaboration with our steadfast and visionary Abu Dhabi government partners. We will have much more to share about NYUAD’s widening horizons in the months ahead.

Our Commencement Speaker HE Razan Khalifa Mubarak, a great leader on climate and nature, reminded us of Margaret Mead’s enduring words:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."

You are such citizens of NYU Abu Dhabi.

Your unwavering support and enthusiasm for our mission give me great hope for the future of NYUAD. Thank you for making our University an extraordinary place of learning, possibility, and transformation.

I wish you all a rejuvenating summer.