15 Memorable Moments of 2015

Graduates hugging each other after Commencement.

Each year seems to get better and better at NYU Abu Dhabi. 2015 was marked by incredible student accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, research breakthroughs by faculty, and a full schedule of interactive public celebrations of art and culture.

Based on feedback from around the University, we present NYUAD's 15 most memorable moments of 2015, in no particular order.

1. The Class of 2015 receives degrees at NYUAD's second Commencement ceremony.

No matter where I go from here, or where I find my next home, I will always have this special story to tell.

Kimberly Rodriguez, Class of 2015, Student Commencement Speaker

2. NYU Abu Dhabi students win AED 1 million in UAE Drones for Good competition.

Martin Slosarik (Class of 2015) sends NYUAD's award-winning Wadi Drone into flight in a desert region near Abu Dhabi.

3. Farah Shamout (Class of 2016), and Hamel Al Qubaisi and Arfa Rehman (Class of 2015) receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

4. Researchers unravel the evolutionary history of the date palm; discover dates from the Middle East and North Africa are genetically different.

5. NYUAD Athletics introduces the University's mascot: Faiza the Falcon.

6. Singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon kicks off the Arts Center's Inaugural Season.

At one moment the audience found themselves working and singing, like slaves, in parched fields while at others they rejoiced like gospel singers in a church and by the end of the night everybody was on their feet, elated in a standing ovation.

Nick Leech, The National
Toshi Reagon, American songwriter and performance artist, co-wrote an opera adaptation of her favorite novel, Parable of the Sower, by the late Octavia E. Butler.

7. Matthew French (Class of 2015) wins Fulbright Scholarship to research drought conditions in rural Brazil.

8. Researchers David and Denise Holland capture on film a slab of ice twice the size of the Empire State Building breaking off the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland.

9. NYUAD hosts legendary conservationist Jane Goodall.

10. NYUAD lights the campus blue for Autism Awareness Month in April, and pink in October to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

NYUAD Saadiyat Campus is blue for Autism Awareness Month..
NYU Abu Dhabi's dome is lit up in pink in support of breast cancer awareness month.

11. Prestigious art blog names Slavs & Tatars art exhibit world's best in 2015.

This exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi was not only excellent — exploring the range of this artist duo who continues to challenge our geographic assumptions about the “centers” of culture and innovation — but it fully confronted the issue of autocratic leaders and their education within an Islamic context.

Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic
NYUAD Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of the art collective Slavs and Tatars, titled Mirrors for Princes.

12. Hackers from around the world compete in the 2015 International Hackathon for Social Good.

13. Joshua Landis, Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, visits NYUAD for an Institute talk and extended video discussion about war in Syria.

14. In a single semester, 143 NYUAD students complete community volunteer work: Office of Community Outreach.

15. Hundreds attend first-ever public Faculty Arts Exhibition.