The Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning Opens at NYU Abu Dhabi

The Center is dedicated to fostering innovation and inclusion in higher education teaching and learning

Press Release

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has announced the official opening of the Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning (HBCTL), which aims to promote excellence, inquiry, and innovation in teaching and learning at NYUAD. The Center provides NYUAD faculty and instructors with the latest resources and tools to inspire inclusive and well-organized teaching and learning, bringing the mission and vision of the University to life in the classroom. 

As it advises and collaborates with the school’s diverse faculty and the wider community of teachers, the Center will explore new teaching approaches and encourage experimentation, technology integration, and new pedagogies. Tools and training modules include those on course design, methods, pedagogy and technology, grading and assessment, diversity and inclusion, student support, core curricula, and teaching evaluation.

Of special contemporary relevance at the Center are the strategies for course design to support learning during trauma, including flexible options that allow students to use their voices to make choices about their learning. In addition, the Center’s extensive resources and tutorials help deploy online tools for the remote delivery of course material. These functions are increasingly important considering the anxieties and dislocations brought on by COVID-19. Over the past several months, the Center has already played an important role in maintaining academic continuity and progress throughout the move to remote instruction.


“In April 2017, the faculty and leadership of NYU Abu Dhabi made the decision to establish a Center for Teaching and Learning, and unanimously agreed that it should be named for Hilary Ballon. No choice could have been more apt. Hilary was a founder of NYU Abu Dhabi. She was also a consummate, dedicated, and brilliant teacher.”

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann

She added: “The mission of The Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning is to help professors be the most effective and creative teachers they can be. The Center began its activities in the fall of 2019, and is now here to build upon our foundational first decade of innovative teaching and learning. It will enable our faculty and instructors to flourish and grow in this diverse and inclusive learning community. The Center is a place for them to be inspired, to learn from one another, to tackle challenges together, and to reflect on new approaches. Its mission is perfectly matched to the incredible creativity of our faculty and their commitment to our students.”


“The Center supports our faculty in bringing to life the mission and vision of the University in the classroom. As it draws on the ample resources of our global network, it 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. Going forward, our teaching will need to be crisis-sensitive and aware of the impacts of the fourth industrial revolution,  while maintaining quality outcomes. We continue to bring new material and ideas that support extraordinary teaching and learning.”

Director of The Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning at NYUAD Nancy W. Gleason

The Center is named after Hilary Ballon, the University’s late Deputy Vice Chancellor and a founding member of the original planning team for NYUAD. Ballon was involved in all aspects of the University’s development, with particular responsibility for the design of a new, globally oriented curriculum and its state-of-the-art campus, which combines traditional and modern architectural elements to reflect the University’s three identities: Abu Dhabi, New York, and the world and which opened in 2014.

Previously, Hilary Ballon was Senior Advisor to the Mellon Foundation and University Professor at NYU. Her scholarship concerned cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life, with a 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. She was honored with numerous fellowships and awards, including national book prizes in the United States and France.

During the launch event, Vice Chancellor Westermann also announced an important gift to the NYU Abu Dhabi Library. Hilary Ballon's family have decided to give her academic library, a collection of books, periodicals, and ephemera on architecture, art, cities, sociology, technology, universities, teaching, learning, and much more, to NYUAD's Library. On behalf of the University, Westermann offered thanks to Hilary's family for this meaningful gift that will continue to connect the NYUAD community to Hilary's curiosity and pursuit of knowledge. 

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.