Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka joins NYU Abu Dhabi Faculty

Soyinka becomes the first ever Nobel prize winner to be part of the NYUAD faculty as an integral part of NYUAD’s Academic Strategy, and its mission as an educational institution.

Wole Soyinka, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has joined NYU Abu Dhabi as Arts Professor of Theater.

A multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, teacher, human rights activist, and scholar who ranks among contemporary Africa’s greatest writers, Soyinka joins The NYUAD Theater Program as a full-time faculty member, thereby offering the community direct access to one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

As part of 66 new faculty that joined NYUAD fall 2022, Soyinka’s appointment as Professor of Theater is an integral part of NYUAD’s Academic Strategy, and its mission as an educational institution in and of Abu Dhabi. He will play a key role towards building the University’s deep strength within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and  world-class leader in global higher education. 

“It is a great honor to have Wole Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, and activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate join our NYUAD community,'' said NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann. “Our location in Abu Dhabi, a transnational crossroads for the exchange of cultural and artistic traditions, positions NYUAD uniquely to catalyze new creativity and discourse. We are excited to provide a home in the UAE for the beauty and power of Soyinka’s contributions to our understanding of our histories and our humanity.”

NYUAD Provost Arlie Petters said: “Soyinka has built an impressive legacy in his home country of Nigeria as well as Africa and the entire world. The students he has taught and mentored, and the legion of teachers who have translated, developed and extended his ideas, remain the most tangible and long-lasting legacy. Our community is privileged to be part of that journey and his ongoing work that will impact generations to come.”

Soyinka has published 90 pieces of intellectual work that often reflect on culture and tradition, creativity and power, activism, and the artistic process. He has held university professorships and lectured at many higher education institutions, including Harvard, Emory, Loyola Marymount, and Yale in the United States. He is also an active member of international, artistic, and human rights organizations.

Soyinka first became a part of the NYUAD community as a Writer-in-Residence in 2019. His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theater programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the University.

The NYUAD Theater Program is an academic and artistic laboratory dedicated to theater research, scholarship, and practice. For NYUAD’s theater majors, the making, thinking, creating and articulating of culture are inseparable, and the overall aim is to develop artist-citizens whose theatrical contributions will expand the limits of the field and make a difference in the world. NYUAD Theater Program graduates collaborate with other artists, scientists, and scholars across disciplines and invent new and hybrid cultural practices that will define and influence theater in the UAE and beyond.