Illustration by Shenuka Corea

Bidding Farewell to an NYUAD Superhero: Vic Lindsay

As Vic leaves NYUAD after 8 years, we talked to him about what NYUAD means to him.

Superhero posters and rows of superhero figures greet me as I walk into Victor Lindsay’s office in Student Life. A lot of these figures and posters are presents that Victor, or Vic, as he is fondly known by students and staff, has been given over the years. In a way, the growing collection of figures and posters document the last eight years he has spent in Abu Dhabi. Vic can tell you when and from whom he received each poster. Among the posters are a Captain America poster with Vic’s face photoshopped onto it, a present from the Office of Global Education. Other standout posters include a superhero portrait of Vic’s family commissioned by artists from Comic Con, an event that Vic takes students to every year.
As I take a seat, Vic tells me that he wants his office to be a space that feels non-intimidating and friendly so that when students walk in, even if they are in trouble, the space will make them feel at ease.
Currently the Associate Director of Student Activities, Vic arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2010, just five months before NYUAD opened. His first job, alongside the many others who were here at NYUAD from the very start, was to ensure that the campus would open as planned in September 2010.
“We all drove to Dubai looking for furniture stores and things like that. We had no idea where we were going,” Vic said as he described the early NYUAD days.
“It was the best of times and the worst of times. We all sat around this big table; there were 30 to 40 people who would come to this meeting and it was all hands on deck and it didn’t matter whose job it was, it had to be done. People were pitching in cross division and really collaborating. Sometimes there were 40 people in the room and no one could agree to anything.”
Both NYUAD and the city of Abu Dhabi have come a long way in the past eight years.
“People would tell you, if you’re looking for real natural maple syrup you have to go [to] this store, but if you’re looking for cereal you have to go to this different grocery store and if you’re looking for soda you have to go to a third grocery store,” he said.
The community was so small that the Vic felt like professional and personal lives overlapped as they worked after hours and during weekends. Vic remembers how during the 2010 FIFA World Cup his apartment became home to around 20 fellow staff members and a ton of pizza for almost a month.
The NYUAD student population was so small that when Vic took on a new role as the Global Education Operations Manager, he took part in every aspect of the travel preparations. Lindsay would book every single student’s study away, J-Term and regional trip tickets and go to embassies with students to sit with them, sometimes for a couple hours every day for a week, while they got their visas.
In February 2013, Vic started working for Student Life, a job that he thinks suits him more than his previous jobs because it gives him the opportunity to do what he loves: working directly with students. As the Associate Director of Student Activities, Vic advises Student Interest Groups, works with Student Life and is a part of the various spaces and activities that make student life at NYUAD more enjoyable, such as the Baraha, Al Diwan and trips to the movies and Comic Con. The movie trips, in particular, mean a lot to Vic.
“Getting to watch Black Panther with a room full of students who were primarily from Africa was really powerful, and seeing how happy they were and how much it meant to them to see those characters represented on screen [was also powerful],” Vic said.
Of course, his job has had its fair share of challenges, especially because NYUAD is only eight years old.
“It’s only … the first-year students now or the next first-year students who will have benefited from having long term continuity, because the very first class had four years at the old campus, everybody else was mixed and then this senior class has spent four years on Saadiyat … there’s not a history on Saadiyat yet, and we need more time for those kind of things to emerge,” he said.
Student Government, for example, is only now starting to have some sense of continuing leadership. Lindsay hopes that traditions and legacies will continue to emerge within the NYUAD community.
“[It’s] about the students’ experience and the memories that you all will make and the traditions that you all are building and to help, in some ways, to create that legacy so that there’s something left when you leave and there’s something that’s pulling people into the school,” Vic said.
Vic misses the old NYUAD days when he knew every single student’s name on campus, a connection he was able to foster with the Class of 2014. During our conversation, Vic recalled bidding farewell to the first class fondly.
“When those students were graduating we had this senior send off moment and I was standing in the back of the room watching them hugging each other — I’m losing it again now — watching them hug each other and say goodbye and it was heartbreaking. I lost it. I was just bawling my eyes out in the back of the room … because those were students that I knew better than anybody, and we had gotten so close,” he said.
Vic has consistently shown his love for students as individuals. Last week, Vic sent out his last email about movie tickets. He reminded students to pick up their tickets and added, “More importantly, it would be nice to see all of you in person. Hugs, high fives, fist bumps and Wakandan salutes are all welcome. One of the things I regret most about our school growing is that I lost the ability to know all of your names. When you come by to pick up your ticket, if I don't already call you by name, make sure I know who you are.”
He and his family are moving to Sweet Briar College in Virginia where he will be Director of Student Life. Vic looks forward to knowing the names of all 300 students at Sweet Briar. He added that his daughters are excited to see snow.
“It’ll be really hard to say goodbye to Abu Dhabi. It’s been home for eight years. Our children were born here. Me and Beth, our fingerprints are hopefully left on this place,” he said.
Last Friday night was Vic’s last NYUAD movie screening. While he usually books a 150 seat theater, this time he booked a 300 seat theater. There was no doubt in my mind and in the mind of everyone else who was there that night that NYUAD will remember his legacy as an entire theater full of students stood up, turned towards him, thanked him and applauded his service to this community.
Thirangie Jayatilake is Features Editor. Email her at
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