Philip Kennedy to Step Down from NYUAD Institute

August 19, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We write to share the news that after 13 years of sustained contributions to the founding and growth of NYU Abu Dhabi, our great colleague Philip Kennedy, Vice Provost for Public programming at the NYUAD Institute, will step down from the role on August 31.

Philip, who serves as Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature, will return to NYU in New York and continue to serve as General Editor of the Library of Arabic Literature, the research and publication enterprise he created in 2010.

We are delighted to also announce that Reindert Falkenburg, Special Academic Advisor and Visiting Professor of Early Modern Art and Culture, has agreed to head the Institute in an interim capacity as we identify the next leader.

Throughout NYU Abu Dhabi’s first decade, Philip has been an outstanding and deeply valued colleague and friend. He played a major role in envisioning our curriculum and research programs, developed our public role as an anchor institution for the country and region, and promoted our academic excellence and global visibility through our Institute. We cannot say enough about how much we’ve appreciated and enjoyed working with Philip, a personally modest but an extraordinary intellectual giant in the world of Arabic literature and Islamic studies.

Philip, who joined NYUAD in 2008, understood and valued the mission of NYU Abu Dhabi from the very start, and committed to moving to Abu Dhabi with his family to launch the Institute two years before the university opened. His legacy will forever be woven into the fabric of our institution and community. We are deeply grateful for his service, friendship, wit and camaraderie.

Philip is the author of The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the Literary TraditionRecognition in the Arabic Narrative Tradition and other studies about Arabic Literature. In 2019, Kennedy was awarded the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Book Award for his 2016 work, Recognition in the Arabic Narrative: Tradition: Discovery, Deliverance and Delusion, for which he analyzed five Arabic texts, including the Quran and the biography of the Prophet Mohammed.

Philip also helped create the Library of Arabic Literature in 2013, with the initial aim to produce 35 editions of Arabic literature and modern English-language translations, including The Life of Ibn Hanbal and The Principles of Sufism. The Library has since exceeded that initial goal by far and is publishing in parallel-text and English-only editions in both print and electronic formats. Arabic editions in PDF format are available for free download from the Library of Arabic Literature website. Also available are distinct scholarly editions with critical apparatus and a separate Arabic-only series aimed at young readers, introducing Arabic’s rich literary heritage to a general audience of readers, and to scholars and students.

The Library has garnered excellent reviews in both academic and trade literary journals, such as The Times Literary SupplementThe Wall Street Journal, and The New York Review of Books. It's reputation is now well and truly established, and as a collection it has become a cornerstone of the study of pre-modern Arabic literature, among an array of genres.

Philip, who also studied French, Spanish, Latin and Greek, earned his undergraduate degree in oriental studies, a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies, and a Ph.D in classical Arabic poetry at Oxford.

Reindert served as NYU Abu Dhabi’s inaugural Dean of Arts and Humanities and then as Vice Provost, Intellectual and Cultural Outreach. In his current role, he has sought to engage all of NYU Abu Dhabi’s faculty and students in innovative scholarship, explores cross-discipline collaborations, and encourages undergraduate students to participate in research. He is the founder of the NYU Abu Dhabi Humanities Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers, and teaches a variety of courses, including "The Idea of the Portrait".

Reindert has played key leadership roles at NYU Abu Dhabi from the very beginning, and worked closely with Philip for years to shape vigorous research development and public programming at the Institute. All of us at NYU Abu Dhabi are grateful to him for once again bringing his interdisciplinary vision and abilities to launch the NYUAD Institute fully into its second decade.

Reindert is an expert in the art of the early modern Netherlands, and has published major studies on artists such as Hieronymus Bosch. He earned master’s and undergraduate degrees in art history from Groningen University in the Netherlands and a Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam.

Mariët Westermann
Vice Chancellor

Arlie Petters