Planning for Fall 2020

A message from Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann and Provost Fabio Piano on planning for fall 2020.

Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community, 

While much remains uncertain, we know that this coming academic year will look different. Learning, teaching, research, and working will continue in new ways, but our shared commitment to creating inclusive, engaged learning environments, to responding to local and global challenges through innovative research, and to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our community will endure. 

Thank you to all who completed the community surveys regarding fall 2020. Some 1,100 community members participated in the surveys, and the information we received has been useful in informing our planning for Academic Year 2020-2021. Among the key findings, a significant number of students indicated that if it's possible, they would be interested in residing on campus in the fall while taking classes online. A quarter of faculty respondents noted that they would appreciate additional pedagogical opportunities to assist with offering remote classes in the fall. Staff noted that homeschooling, childcare, and safety are important factors for leadership to consider when thinking about the impact of remote working. Access to the library, gym and fitness facilities, and the dining hall were selected by most respondents as being important in making the decision to come to campus, along with residence halls for students.

Summer Research On Campus

We are aware that there is considerable need to restore access to on-campus lab, studio, as well as office space to reconstitute as much of our research activities as possible during the summer and into the fall. As of now, we are envisioning to operate under the current exception-approval mechanism until the end of this month. Contingent on the public health developments and the increase in on-campus sanitation services, we are preparing for an increased capacity for research lab and office space based on government guidelines starting soon. For more information on this, please see here (login required).

Fall and AY 2020-2021

We are very aware of our community’s need to prepare for the fall, and we are writing to share an update on emerging Remote Plus plans for the fall 2020 semester and into the academic year. While Remote means teaching, learning, and working from different locations for students, faculty, and staff, the Plus indicates our commitment to maintain important community connections and seek to gradually bring our community back together on campus by spring 2021. Given our need to prioritize our academic and research mission, act with flexibility in response to uncertainty, accommodate robust health and safety protocols, limit density on campus and consider ongoing global travel restrictions, while ensuring this fall will be truly worthwhile for our community members, the current plan is as follows:

  • A later start to the fall semester and adjustments to the academic calendar, with an updated start date of September 6, 2020, for the first day of classes. 
  • Remote Plus fall 2020 semester with some returning students in residence on campus while studying online. 
    • As travel and health advisories allow and given that we are aiming to open up certain on-campus amenities, we have established a mechanism for returning undergraduate students to apply to live on campus through the fall.
    • All seniors who choose to return to live on campus may do so.
    • Additional students who may qualify include those who are in the UAE already and/or remain here over the summer due to travel limitations, or those with significant hardship who are unable to complete their work remotely from their home country and who are able to travel to the UAE.
    • Applications of all other returning students will be reviewed as travel and health advisories will evolve. All final decisions will be dependent on visas, travel restrictions, and public health guidelines.
    • More information is available on the student portal (login required). 
  • Remote Plus start to the fall 2020 semester for first-year students with remote instruction plus robust opportunities to engage with Campus Life and with peers in the Class of 2024 and across NYUAD. This includes a virtual Marhaba orientation before the start of the fall semester and activities with First Year Dialogue peers and facilitators.
  • A phased approach in returning to campus and accessing lab, studio, and office space:
    • Staff should continue to work remotely over the summer, other than those few staff deemed essential, engaged in lab or studio based research, or with permission from the CABO team. 
    • We are aiming to limit density on campus for the fall semester. Only a limited number of staff deemed essential for student, academic, and operational support will return to campus, with the remainder continuing to work remotely.
  • No regular J-Term courses in January 2021, but we expect select J-Term courses to take place in summer.
  • An early start to in-person instruction in spring 2021. The academic calendar for spring 2021 will be announced soon.
  • An enlarged and longer summer term 2021, in which students can take up to two courses and may be able to take J-Term courses needed for graduation. 
  • A technology and connectivity program designed to support remote instruction or work. 

Our University is a diverse and vital center of scholarship, with faculty who are leading scholars, artists, researchers, writers, and dedicated teachers. As we implement remote instruction into the fall, our students will receive the outstanding educational experience with a distinctive focus on intercultural understanding and leadership that is the hallmark of NYUAD. Throughout the summer, faculty will be offered extensive opportunities through the Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning as well as the Library and Academic Technology to ensure that instructional needs are supported. 

We know that you will have questions about what specifically these plans will mean for you — whether you are a student, faculty member, staff member, graduate student, postdoc, or researcher.

  • Information for returning students, including a detailed academic calendar and FAQs is available on the student portal (login required).
  • Information for first-year students, including a detailed academic calendar and FAQs is available here.
  • Information for graduate students including a detailed academic calendar and FAQs is available on the student portal (login required).
  • Information for faculty, staff, researchers, and postdocs including a detailed academic calendar and FAQs is available on the intranet (login required).

Planning for AY 2020-21 will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. The overall planning will be taken up within the Return to Campus initiative and its Academic Planning Group. The Return to Campus initiative is designed to support NYUAD’s return to campus for AY 2020-21 in a measured way, and with the health and safety of the community at the forefront of decision making. The initiative includes representation from across the NYUAD community focused on five key portfolios: Academics, Students, Operations, Public Health, and Lab and Studio-Based Research. Our Office of Public Affairs and Communications will be developing a Return to Campus Guide and a web hub designed to provide the NYUAD community members with the latest essential information on our return to campus. 

Our Remote Plus experience is designed to offer students the most stable and consistent pathway for engaging with rich academic and community-based experiences while we adjust to conditions imposed by the pandemic. We will continue to update you as the situation evolves and as we respond to the changing local guidelines. 

As we look ahead to the fall, we know that a return to the regular rhythm of campus will take some time, and will require all the patience, flexibility, and resilience that our community can offer. But after the significant adjustments and learning experiences of this past spring, we believe that NYU Abu Dhabi is uniquely prepared to meet these challenges head-on and deliver a rich and vibrant academic and research program while fostering an environment of individual and collective responsibility for health and well-being and maintaining our community spirit and connections.

Mariët and Fabio

Office of Public Affairs

NYU Abu Dhabi's Office of Public Affairs aims to enhance communications and relationships with NYUAD's many public audiences — including members of the media. Working closely with faculty, staff, and departments across the University, the Office of Public Affairs coordinates NYUAD's visual identity, and helps share stories about NYUAD's students, faculty, and educational opportunities.