NYU Abu Dhabi to Honor Class of 2020 at Commencement on May 27

Class of 2020

David Levering Lewis, Julius Silver University Professor, NYU Professor, and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, to deliver keynote remarks

Press Release

NYU Abu Dhabi will hold a virtual commencement ceremony to celebrate and honor the Class of 2020 on May 27. This year’s ceremony will recognize the remarkable achievements of the Class of 2020 and feature inspirational remarks from NYU President Andy Hamilton, keynote speaker David Levering Lewis, Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann, and student speakers. The commencement program was developed in collaboration with representatives from the Class of 2020, most of whom have remained on campus this spring in response to the global uncertainties at hand and given the broad global travel restrictions in place.

David Levering Lewis, who delivered the address for the first NYUAD convocation in 2010, is an author, Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at New York University, and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his two-part biography of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Lewis has received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (twice), the Guggenheim Foundation, the John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. He is a former trustee of the National Humanities Center, a former commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery, a former senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and served as president of the Society of American Historians, 2002-03. On February 25, 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at the White House.

This year’s Commencement will also include a video tribute to the graduating class featuring past Commencement speakers UAE Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba and Paralympic ski medalist and best-selling author Bonnie St-John, as well as other special guests.


“We are thrilled to celebrate the NYU Abu Dhabi Class of 2020 with a Commencement ceremony imbued with NYUAD energy and spirit, featuring inspiring words and fanfare to mark the great achievements of our graduating students. These are unprecedented times, but even if we can’t be together in person on May 27, it is important that this incredible group of students has the opportunity to celebrate each other and be feted by friends and family from around the world. Our goal is to make this an unforgettable, joyous day for them, for their families, and for our whole community.”

NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann

Speaking on behalf of the graduating class will be NYUAD student Lujain Ibrahim. Palestinian-Jordanian Ibrahim is graduating with a BS in Computer Engineering. During her time at NYUAD, she has served on the executive board of the women empowerment in STEM group and as the Engineering Student Representative on the Academics Board of Student Government.

Emirati student and 2020 UAE Rhodes Scholar Abdulla Alhashmi, who is graduating with a BA in Economics and Philosophy, will also offer brief welcome remarks.

A reflection of NYU Abu Dhabi’s standing as one of the most international and diverse universities in the world, the Class of 2020 is comprised of students from 75 countries, 90 percent of whom speak two or more languages. Members of the Class of 2020 have won top global awards and accolades, including two Rhodes Scholars, one Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Scholar, and three Clinton Global Initiative University participants. Graduating students have been invited to join global organizations, including Bain & Company in Tokyo, Japan; McKinsey and Company in Dubai, UAE; and Teach for America and Bloomberg in the United States. Many graduates will also be continuing their studies at prestigious universities, including the University of Oxford, Columbia University, MIT, and Stanford.

This ceremony will be NYUAD’s seventh Commencement since graduating its inaugural class in 2014.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.