Commencement Speakers

Ellen Stofan, PhD

Under Secretary for Science and Research، Smithsonian Institution

Ellen Stofan oversees the science museums and science research centers as well as the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Office of International Relations, Smithsonian Scholarly Press and Scientific Diving Program.

Stofan previously was the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

As the former Chief Scientist of NASA, Stofan served as the principal advisor to the Administrator on science programs and strategic planning.

Stofan held senior scientist positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Currently, she is on the science team of the NASA Dragonfly mission to Titan. Stofan holds master’s and doctorate degrees in geological sciences from Brown University, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary.

Anish Kapoor


Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai in 1954 and lives and works in London. He studied sculpture at Hornsey College of Art, followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London.

He represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale, for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila and won the Turner Prize in 1991.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin, Venice, Italy, Modern Art Oxford, UK, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, UK, ‘HOWL’, Rotunda, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; CAFA Art Museum / Imperial Ancestral Temple, Beijing; CorpArtes, Santiago; Serralves, Museu de Arte Contemorânea, Porto; Parque de la Memoria, Buenos Aires; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO), Rome; Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City; Château de Versailles, France. Permanent commissions include Cloud Gate in Millennium Park in Chicago; Orbit, Queen Elizabeth Park, London and Ark Nova, the world’s first inflatable mobile concert hall, Japan.

William R. Berkley

Chairman of the New York University Board of Trustees 

William R. Berkley is the founder and Executive Chairman of the W. R. Berkley Corporation, a Fortune 500 property-casualty insurance holding company. During his career, Mr. Berkley has founded a number of public and private companies, some of which he continues to control or serve as Chairman or Director.

Mr. Berkley is a graduate of NYU (Stern ‘66) and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He is Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees and has served in various capacities at NYU for almost three decades, including Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Stern School of Business, and member of the Board of Trustees of the NYU Langone Medical Center, as well as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees at NYU. He has also served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University, and was a former Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Connecticut.

Mr. Berkley has received numerous awards for his business, civic and philanthropic contributions, including an honorary doctor of law degree from Mercy College, and the Charles Waldo Haskins award from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He was also the recipient of the Valentine Mott Award, from NYU Langone Medical Center, for exceptional and long-standing support and leadership.

Andrew Hamilton

President, New York University

Andrew Hamilton is the 16th president of New York University. He previously served as the vice chancellor of Oxford University, the university’s senior officer, after an academic career that took him from Princeton to the University of Pittsburgh, and then to Yale, where he was named provost.

Throughout his time in academic leadership positions, he has maintained his scholarly work, including an active research laboratory, which he continues to do at NYU.

A distinguished chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Dr. Hamilton’s scholarly work lies at the intersection of organic and biologic chemistry.

He received his PhD from Cambridge University, his master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, and his undergraduate degree from Exeter University.

Mariët Westermann, NYU Abu Dhabi

Vice Chancellor, New York University Abu Dhabi

Mariët Westermann joined NYU Abu Dhabi as Vice Chancellor and Professor of Arts and Humanities in 2019.

Dr. Westermann previously served as executive Vice President at the Mellon Foundation. Prior to joining the Mellon Foundation, she was a member of the faculty at NYU, first as director and Paulette Goddard Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts and then as the first provost of NYU Abu Dhabi.

Before joining NYU in 2002, she had been associate director of research at the Clark Art Institute and a faculty member at Rutgers University.

Dr. Westermann is a widely published scholar on the art of the Netherlands, her native country, and on the humanities, cultural heritage, and diversity and inclusion. Her current research is focused on Gardens of Eden in the Abrahamic faith communities.

She earned her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, at Williams College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and she received her master’s and PhD degrees from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Arlie Petters, NYU Abu Dhabi

Provost, New York University Abu Dhabi

Arlie Petters joined NYU Abu Dhabi in 2020 from Duke University, where he was the Benjamin Powell Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, former Dean of Academic Affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Prior to joining Duke, Dr. Petters served as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University and an Instructor of Pure Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

As a prolific and award-winning scholar, Dr. Petters has published numerous articles in the top-tier journals of his field and has written five books. His principal research interests are mathematical physics and scientific methods in business administration. He pioneered the mathematical theory of weak-deflection gravitational lensing and advanced innovative applications of the theory.

Dr. Petters received his PhD in mathematics from MIT, and has a BA and MA in mathematics and physics from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Kyle Farley, NYU Abu Dhabi

Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

Kyle Farley leads NYU Abu Dhabi’s Campus Life division spanning residential education, leadership and career development, student engagement, new student orientation, intercultural education, spiritual life, community outreach, the student health center and athletics.

Prior to NYUAD, Farley most recently served as the inaugural Dean of Students at Yale-NUS College in Singapore where he built support structures for a global student body, and oversaw the student affairs portfolio that included student organizations, residential life, athletics, wellness, and new student orientation. He also served as the Dean of Higher Education at Academies Australasia in Sydney and was the Dean of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale University.

Farley received a BA in Philosophy and History from Calvin College and a PhD in American History from the University of Pennsylvania.

Bryan Waterman, NYU Abu Dhabi

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development

Bryan Waterman joined NYU’s Department of English in 2001 and came to NYUAD in 2012 as an Associate Professor of Literature. As a pillar of the University’s early growth, Bryan served as head of the literature program, helping to set the scholarly tone for its global curriculum and to extend its reach to include creative writing.

In 2016, Waterman joined the Provost’s Office as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development and Director of the Core Curriculum.

He was promoted in 2019 to Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development. His savvy leadership helped navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as he played a part in developing new resources for NYUAD’s growing faculty and students.

He holds a PhD from Boston University and specializes in the literary history of the United States, the Atlantic World, and New York City.

Hessa AlAbbas, BSc

Welcome Speaker Class of 2022

Hessa grew up in the UAE and, as an Engineering major herself, has been actively involved in the Engineering division as a student mentor for her peers. She is on the Student Government Engineering Committee, and works as a research assistant with Professor Kemal Celik. Hessa has been very engaged in UAE cultural programs, interned with Community Outreach, and led the American Society of Civil Engineering and UAE Majlis student interest groups on campus.

Yusril Nurhidayat, BA

Student Speaker Class of 2022

Yusril grew up in Indonesia and has majored in Social Research and Public Policy with a minor in Theater. Yusril has been a Sufara’a UAE Cultural Ambassador, First Year Dialogue Facilitator, and has been a leader in the Human Rights Advocacy student interest group. Yusril has worked with Community Outreach and Community-Based Learning. He has served on the Student Government, the NYU Global Student Council, and the Arts and Humanities Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Yusril has been a leader in the dance society, started the first acapella group on campus. Yusril has also represented the university at two Model United Nations Conferences abroad.