Important Updates on Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging, and Equity at NYUAD

October 12, 2020

Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Fatiah Touray, Esq. as Senior Director of Inclusion and Equity at NYU Abu Dhabi, effective December 1, 2020.

Fatiah comes to NYUAD from Sarah Lawrence College where she is currently the inaugural Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Special Assistant to the President. Previously, she was the Assistant Dean of Diversity and International Advising and the Director of the Academic Achievement Program at the College of Arts and Science at NYU.

Fatiah brings a deep commitment to global education and engagement along with diversity, equity, and inclusion work. In her role at Sarah Lawrence, she launched the first campus climate survey focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She has introduced bias mitigation training for academic communities, launched programs designed to increase faculty diversity, and created affinity groups for faculty and staff of color and LGBTQ+ identified faculty and staff.

The Senior Director of Inclusion and Equity is responsible for leading and directing NYUAD’s programs that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. In this role, Fatiah will work in partnership with SLICE, the Vice Provost’s Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, and all students, faculty, and staff dedicated to the work of helping NYUAD become a truly inclusive institution.

The selection process for this crucial role included a comprehensive, far-reaching, competitive global search. I am grateful to Chief of Staff Jessica Sederquist, who led the search, and to the dozens of community members who participated in it. I am confident that Fatiah is the right person to work collaboratively to advance this important work.

I am also pleased to update the NYUAD community on the other ways in which we are advancing the values of inclusion and belonging across our institution.

This fall I will be partnering with the NYUAD Institute to launch a new speaker series on Race, Diversity, and the Learning Community. Each event in the series will look at the interactions between race, diversity, and the academy in relation to specific disciplines and social practices, from the law, sociology, and science to higher education, policy, and the arts. NYUAD and NYUNY have strong scholars in all of these areas, and their contributions will be enhanced by guest speakers and moderators. The first three of these events have begun to take shape. Today at 7:30pm GST I will engage in a discussion with Bryan Waterman, Laura Assanmal, Gabi Branche, and Rosemary Byrne about Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson’s probing memoir of the struggle for personal and systemic justice for some of the most marginalized society members. The book is the NYUAD Summer Colloquium and NYU Reads selection for 2020. Immediately following that conversation, you will be able to watch Stevenson himself address the NYU community. On October 27 at 5pm GST we will screen a  conversation of NYU Professors Deborah Willis and Pamela Newkirk with Opal Tometi, the Nigerian American community organizer, writer, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, followed by a discussion between me and Professors Willis and Newkirk, both of whom are much engaged with the NYUAD community. On November 19, we will have a session with Black artists from several countries on what it means for artists to be activists. Additional details will be shared via the Institute.

The Implementation Committee on Race, Diversity, and Belonging, co-chaired by Dean Marta Losada and Dean’s Fellow Waseem Chaudry (Class of 2020), has offered initial recommendations on how to execute the commitments that I made to the community on July 1, 2020, and offered suggestions for refinement on how the commitments can be implemented. The Committee has also begun to engage with diverse constituencies across the institution through Listening Sessions designed to hear from the community and recommend new actions to leadership that are aimed at making NYUAD an antiracist and truly inclusive and equitable community.

In August and September, the University’s academic and operational leadership teams participated in mandatory training on diversity, race, inclusion, and equity, with a focus on anti-racism, led by the Center for Diversity in Higher Education of the University of Maryland, which is one of the most renowned research centers in this area. Having participated in implicit bias and diversity training in other institutions, I can say that I learned a great deal from the Center’s approach, which is grounded in history and theory but also action-oriented. Over time, we aim to make this type of training available to all in our community, involving both external and internal experts and facilitators.

Already, HR has partnered with the Office of Equal Opportunity at NYU in New York to roll out a comprehensive awareness training program to all faculty and staff this academic year.

Recently, we launched a new public webpage dedicated to inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity at NYUAD. The webpage is designed to share information on NYUAD’s commitment to building and strengthening a culture of inclusion and includes links to programming and resources that will support our community as we foster an environment where all can belong.

I am also pleased to let you know that a group of Black and African Diaspora NYUAD faculty and staff have come together to cultivate and support the capacity for institutional equity through accountability and community development in support of our efforts to address systemic racism and become a community anchored in mutual respect and solidarity. The Black and African Diaspora Community of Action will be housed under the Office of Inclusion and Equity, where Fatiah will provide guidance and support. If you are interested in joining this Employee Resource Group, please email

Thank you for joining me in advancing NYU Abu Dhabi’s commitment to inclusion and fostering an open learning, working, and living environment for all members of our community.

Mariët Westermann