Photo Courtesy of Malak Abdel-Ghaffar

NYUAD (Finally) Gives Official Updates on IDBE Efforts and Campus Climate Survey

Revisiting NYUAD’s commitment to equity and diversity since The Gazelle’s last report, we explore the institution’s progress towards the diversity and equity goals it set for itself.

Oct 31, 2021

On Oct. 25, Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann and Provost Arlie Petters sent out a community wide email giving an update on NYU Abu Dhabi’s inclusion, diversity, belonging and equity efforts as well as the university’s inaugural campus climate survey. The email was the latest accountability update since the summer of 2020, when social justice movements helped highlight systemic and structural racism at NYUAD. At the time, the vice chancellor shared a series of commitments to make the NYUAD community more inclusive and equitable.
In the email, senior administration noted that they have “continued to make important progress” and their IDBE efforts are “more integrated, ambitious, and dynamic than ever.” This update comes after the last communication of its kind in March and also arrived one week after the publication of a Gazelle article discussing the achievements and gaps in the university’s IDBE efforts.
While the article noted that several commitments, such as mandatory diversity training for faculty, administrators and staff are yet to be fulfilled, Westermann and Petters announced that seven out of 11 items in the accountability framework have already been completed.
The completed action items include restructuring the Office of Inclusion and Equity with new leadership to act as a leader in institutional IDBE approach. The Implementation Committee on Race, Diversity, and Belonging developed detailed recommendations and action plans for improved inclusion and equity on campus, releasing their final report. The Committee has since been rebranded as the Inclusion, Equity and Action Committee and now has expanded representation from students.
Westermann and Petters also highlighted the integration of IDBE in the institution’s Academic Strategy, which aims to amplify the presence of faculty from underrepresented communities and to create a more hospitable learning environment. OIE and the Office of the Provost have set up a joint Liaison Working Group on Inclusion and Equity as well as a Fund for Inclusion and Innovation to encourage academic research on historically marginalized communities.
One of the areas still flagged as “in-progress” is offering community wide training on equity and inclusion. In the past, students have felt that the IDBE training has not been entirely effective and felt subject to microaggressions coming from faculty. The aim is to have at least 75 percent of the staff, faculty and students engaged in some level of diversity training. The email stated that training and workshop opportunities have been expanded for all community members through the OIE and will continue to be developed and provided.
In addition, the creation of a Black Students Association and other Affinity Groups is also underway. This is to complement existing structures of support for Black students, including AZIZA, the Caribbean Students Association and Africa Global. The final area that is in progress is reviewing NYU’s hiring, performance evaluation, promotion and vendor selection policies.
Half a year since its launch, the outcomes of NYUAD’s inaugural campus climate survey are finally ready. In a town hall meeting on Oct. 27, the university’s external partner and survey consultant Dr. Roger Worthington from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education presented an overview of the results, accompanied by remarks from Westermann, Petters and Fatiah Touray, Senior Director of Inclusion and Equity.
Worthington noted that the results are not too surprising or alarming, with most community members who completed the survey expressing that they felt positively about NYUAD in terms of attachment and belonging, although members of minority groups, such as people with disabilities, tend to offer lower ratings. Students and staff also said that they encounter the most microaggressions from faculty members who are at the top of the power hierarchy.
Though it was initially said that the full survey report would be made available the day after the town hall, it is still yet to be released.
Charlie Fong is Senior News Editor. Email her at
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