Message from Nancy Gleason, Director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning

Read the message from the Director in Arabic (PDF)

NYU Abu Dhabi harnesses the best of global liberal arts to deliver a unique higher education learning community. We bring together key pillars of the liberal arts including residential living, small classrooms, close faculty-student interaction, interdisciplinary exposure, experiential learning, and independent Capstone research. Faculty and students come from across the world to collectively address global challenges. The mission and vision are clear — we are here to develop leaders who are civically engaged, global in mindset, and resilient. The living and learning community in Saadiyat is connected to a global network of expertise that stretches from Shanghai, to New York, and back again. The Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning exists to support faculty in bringing the mission and vision of the University to life in the classroom.

Students, faculty and staff were dislocated by COVID-19. Our norms and community had been disrupted, but teaching continuity is in the mandate of this Center. We are here to support NYUAD faculty in any way we can. During the COVID-19 induced remote instruction at NYU Abu Dhabi, all teaching faculty were tasked with converting their face-to-face courses to an online model. In March 2020 we rapidly learned about synchronous versus asynchronous teaching options. Some recorded lectures via Zoom and NYU Stream. We figured out how to create break-out rooms and create student-centered learning in discussion forums. Some found podcasts, YouTube videos, and TED Talks to add to our course materials. Some of us developed new prompts, new ways of assessing learning, and new modes of engagement for class participation. Under unprecedented pressure, our students stepped up. The struggle was real, but many were able to adjust how they worked with us and each other. Some struggled to stay engaged, motivated, and learning. For both faculty and students, wellness continues to be an essential element of effective learning whether we are online or not.

Going forward, our teaching will need to be crisis-sensitive while maintaining quality outcomes. My hope is that this website provides you with materials, ideas, and community that support your extraordinary teaching.

Named after the University’s late Deputy Vice Chancellor, it is an honor and a privilege to be the inaugural Director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Hilary was a founding member of the team that began planning NYUAD in September 2007. Among many other indelible marks on the Saadiyat Island campus, Hilary carefully created the University’s signature Core Curriculum. She brought to life a vision of interdisciplinary learning with fierce commitment and determination. Through the smallest of details in an individual colleague's syllabus, Hilary took care to ensure excellence across the diverse set of courses and the faculty who taught them. She walked the walk, teaching courses, and mentoring her own students with extraordinary care and rigor. This Center that bears her name is a testament to her impact on, and her commitment to, trajectories of excellence in teaching and learning at NYU Abu Dhabi. Drawing on the global network, on Abu Dhabi, and on our small Saadiyat community, the Center is a place for educators to be inspired, to learn from one another, to feel supported, and to reflect on the community that holds us up.

With thanks,
Nancy W. Gleason

About Hilary Ballon

NYU Abu Dhabi’s Teaching and Learning Center is named, by request of the faculty, for the University’s late Deputy Vice Chancellor. Hilary Ballon, a founding member of the team that began planning NYUAD in September 2007. She was involved in all aspects of the University’s development, with particular responsibility for the design of a new, globally oriented curriculum and the three-million square-foot campus on Saadiyat Island that opened in 2014. Ballon’s scholarship focused on cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life, with a recent focus on New York City. In 2012 she received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture for her publications and curatorial work. In addition to her administrative duties, Ballon taught courses on urbanism and architecture at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where she was a University Professor.

Contact Us

Nancy Gleason
Director, Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning
Professor of Practice, Political Science
Email: nyuad.hbctl@nyu.edu