Photo by Eveyln Cheng/The Gazelle
Last weekend, approximately 150 of the admitted international students for the Fall 2013 inaugural class at NYU Shanghai
visited NYU’s third degree-granting portal campus for a glimpse of what life might be like if they decide to matriculate.
In September, NYUSH will welcome its first class of 300 undergraduate students, of which 50 percent will be Chinese citizens, according to the institution’s agreement with China’s Ministry of Education. Because NYUSH does not offer Candidate Weekends for international students, these admitted students had the opportunity to visit and learn more about the institution before making their final decisions.
NYUSH leadership and staff — including Chancellor Yu Lizhong, Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman and Dean of Arts and Sciences Joanna Waley Cohen — as well as faculty from NYUAD and NYUNY collaborated for a weekend of sample classes, panel discussions, tours and excursions. President John Sexton also gave an engaging speech about NYU as a global academic institution.
Much like how faculty members from the Square participated in NYUAD’s first Candidate Weekends because new faculty had not yet arrived, NYUAD faculty lent a hand in Shanghai by teaching classes that were representative of those that would be offered to NYUSH students. They also participated in panel discussions and spoke with prospective students about what to expect from life as part of the GNU.
University spokesperson Josh Taylor said that in addition to it being an easier trip to send faculty from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai as opposed to sending them from New York, NYUAD faculty were uniquely positioned to talk about what it was like to open a portal campus.
Paulo Horta, Assistant Professor of Literature at NYUAD, taught a sample class on Global Literature. He also gave the students 15 minutes to ask questions, most of which had to do with the dynamics of a start-up university. Horta described the sample classes as the most compatible substitute the university could offer during the recruitment process, given that all NYUSH professors have not been officially hired yet.
“I think it was a good idea to bring mostly NYUAD faculty because we have taught in a start-up situation,” Horta said. “I think NYUSH will be more like Abu Dhabi in that sense.”
Horta also said part of the appeal of being at NYUSH is being able to circulate throughout the GNU, and having faculty from all campuses conducting sample classes exposed potential students to that possibility.
“That’s part of the distinction of attending NYU nowadays, whether you are entering through Shanghai or Abu Dhabi or New York,” he said.
Michael Posner is a professor from the Stern School of Business who taught a sample class in Business and Human Rights. He is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor under Hilary Clinton and is new to NYUNY. Being an active member of the GNU is part of the reason he came to NYU.
“[The GNU] is visionary and reflects the global reality of the 21st century,” Posner said. “Whatever field students or faculty are studying and exploring, our perspectives are enriched by doing so in a truly global setting. What is happening at NYU is path-breaking and very exciting.”
He described the weekend in Shanghai as worthwhile in the recruiting process and found the admitted students to be engaged, curious and informed.
“For a number of the admitted students enrolling in the NYUSH program, it presents a distinctly different alternative from their other college choices,” Posner said. “It's a big decision and there is simply no substitute for seeing the place yourself ... It's important that those who decide to enroll be excited about the prospect of going outside of their comfort zone.”
Leah Reynolds, President of Student Government, also attended the weekend at NYUSH, representing NYUAD’s inaugural class to share with the students and their parents some of the challenges and advantages of being a student at one of NYU’s start-up campuses. She said that because both campuses are relatively small and starting out as portals to the GNU, the exchange of ideas and information is important as both campuses establish themselves in the collegiate world.
“Pioneering a university isn't for everyone, so I think it's important for us to share our experiences with our colleagues there so that they can make more informed decisions about how to get involved and make the most of their experience when they move to Shanghai,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds served on a panel and had dinners with the prospective students, where she spoke honestly about the difficulties of being in a university’s inaugural class. She also took the students around the East China Normal University campus, where they will be based for their first year until NYUSH’s campus is completed.
“I shared that I think their campus will have several benefits my class didn't have,” Reynolds said, “like being on a Chinese campus for the first year so they can more easily make friends their age and dive into community life in Shanghai.”
Reynolds said she hopes the students found the overall experience helpful and intends on maintaining the connections she made to help the NYUAD campus stay involved with Shanghai in the future, both institutionally and informally.
Taylor said the feedback from the students was positive.
“I think both our faculty, and the students, enjoyed the opportunity to talk about what it will be like for them to be pioneers at NYUSH,” he said. “I think our faculty and I also really appreciated getting a sense of both the city of Shanghai, and of course, of our soon-to-be sibling portal campus.”
Amanda Randone is co-editor-in-chief. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.