First NYUAD Yearbook Sets Precedent

A team of NYU Abu Dhabi students are currently in the process of creating the university’s inaugural yearbook. The initiative is entirely student-run. ...

Nov 2, 2013

A team of NYU Abu Dhabi students are currently in the process of creating the university’s inaugural yearbook.
The initiative is entirely student-run. Junior Kimi Rodriguez and sophomore Mariko Kuroda are both editor-in-chief. Both have had experience in publishing and were editors-in-chief of their respective yearbooks in high school.
Rodriguez said that work is going as planned and follows the schedule that has been set for the project.
“We’re on track … this semester we wanted to finish everything, so next semester all people have to do is put [the photos and text] in,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and Kuroda plan to pass the project on to an incoming junior or a sophomore who is staying in Abu Dhabi for spring semester. Rodriguez also plans to oversee the process via the internet.
“I think it will be very easy to manage from abroad, just because it’s a very visual activity,” she said.
Goffredo Puccetti, NYUAD Visiting Professor of Design and Visual Communication, had been asked by Kuroda to step in occasionally and oversee the design aspects. He is very impressed with the way the students have handled the yearbook process.
“When I see you guys taking charge, doing things, [it’s] quite amazing,” he said.
Puccetti stressed the importance of the yearbook as a template for school tradition.
“We’re setting up our own tradition — if we were at Oxford, we would probably be following a procedure established by someone two centuries ago,” he said. “We don’t have … that privilege, but we have another one which, may I say, is far more thrilling.”
He believes it is critical that this publication be led by students.
“In history, the great movements of change in all kinds of institutions … it’s quite likely they’re driven by young people,” Puccetti said.
He believes that a professional design company would be a less effective way of creating something that should belong to the NYUAD community.
“This is about creating something that is absolutely personal,” he said.
Rodriguez said that the biggest hurdle so far has been figuring out which departments to approach for funding and public affairs advice.
“[The problem] is more the fact that it’s never been done before,” said Rodriguez. “The yearbook has been up in the air for a long time … but it’s been postponed. The only thing that’s been really difficult has been because it’s the first yearbook … [structuring] where the money’s going to come from, what exactly it falls under. We don’t even have an alumni office.”
She also reiterated Puccetti’s sentiment that the yearbook is an incredibly personal process both for students and faculty. Rodriguez believes it forms a very important part of graduation.
“I think [the administration has] now realized it’s a really important part of not only commencement but … especially since it’s our last year in Sama, it’s going to be our first graduating class. I think it’s a very symbolic gesture,” she said.
She said negotiating the territory of NYUAD’s public image has been a little tricky, especially in relation to funding.
“One thing that we didn’t anticipate is that, despite being by students, for students, it can still be interpreted as promotional material. There are still standards that we have to adhere to, branding guidelines that we have to think about,” she said.
“[Administration] doesn’t want to be too involved in it … but if the funding comes from public affairs, they might need to have a say,” Rodriguez added.
Puccetti believes that the yearbook is a concrete manifestation of students’ design and managerial skills.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve heard a lot of bold claims [about students] … this is a cool, straightforward [project] that shows … there is some truth in there. It’s not just marketing,” Puccetti said.“It’s very rare to find this kind of student, such passion and commitment.”
Correction: A previous version of this article listed only Kimi Rodriguez as editor-in-chief. Mariko Kuroda shares this position.
Tessa Ayson is a contributing writer. Email her at 
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