William R. Berkley, Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees, today presided over the ceremony inaugurating Andrew D. Hamilton as NYU’s 16th president. The ceremony, held on NYU’s campus, was attended by higher education leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, prominent New York political figures, and NYU students, faculty, administrators, alumni/ae, and Trustees.
President Hamilton, a chemist and former Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, was selected by NYU’s Board of Trustees in March 2015 and began his presidency in January 2016.
In his remarks, Mr. Berkley said, “In Andy Hamilton we have found the perfect choice to solidify the gains of the last generation and move us forward to even greater achievements. An outstanding scholar with a strong record of achievement in leadership posts at top universities, a laser-like focus on academic excellence and support for faculty, a commitment to teaching and undergraduate education, a global background and a terrific record of fundraising – he is just the right person at this moment in the University’s history, and he ‘gets’ NYU.”
The ceremony and the preceding week’s events celebrated NYU’s remarkable academic trajectory, and the innovation, creativity, and intellectual spirit that lie behind NYU students’ and faculty’s drive to make a difference. Hamilton’s inaugural remarks re-emphasized these ideas, and also focused on the importance of putting academic considerations at the forefront of all NYU does. In addition, through a series of questions, he outlined the contours of key NYU’s priorities: making investments to advance NYU in the sciences; the emergence of Brooklyn as hub for NYU’s efforts in technology; the need for NYU to address affordability; and the indispensability of diversity to academic excellence, among other issues.
President Hamilton said, “No university matches NYU for its boldness of spirit and ambition, or in harnessing that boldness in pursuit of academic excellence. One of the principal reasons I came to NYU was the University’s remarkable trajectory over the past several decades, transforming itself from a largely regional school to one of the world’s foremost research universities; I knew I wanted to be part of a University that could achieve that kind of academic trajectory. I am deeply grateful for the welcome NYU has given me - the warmest, grandest, most spirited, most New York welcome we could have hoped for. We are thrilled and so proud to be part of the NYU family.”
Hamilton first joined the NYU community in January. Actions taken since then include…:
- Holding dozens of meetings with faculty, students, and staff to listen to campus concerns
- Selecting NYU historian Katherine Fleming as Provost following a nationwide search
- Setting the lowest increase in cost of attendance in 20 years, including freezing room-and-board increases
- Establishing an Affordability Steering Committee to develop proposals to make NYU more affordable for students
- Creating the position of Chief Diversity Officer
- Developing programs to improve diversity in faculty hiring
- Establishing a bias response line
- Ending use of the “box” on the Common Application and substituting a narrower question about criminal and disciplinary history
- Expanding scholarship aid for veterans
…among other steps and initiatives.
The inauguration ceremony capped a week of student events, student-led performances, and faculty-led talks and interactive exhibits at Washington Square, at the 1st Avenue Health Corridor, and in Brooklyn at NYU's Tandon School of Engineering that collectively showcased NYU’s academic and artistic strengths.
The inauguration ceremony also marked the launching of the NYU “Make a Difference” award, which recognizes members of the NYU community whose efforts have a profound and lasting impact on changing the world for the better. This inaugural class of “Make a Difference” award recipients includes:
- Olugbenga G. Ogedegbe, a physician, Professor in NYU’s School of Medicine, and Vice Dean of NYU’s College of Global Public Health, for his health research and outreach in the U.S. and Africa
- Diane Geng, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU Shanghai, and Wei Ji Ma, Professor of neural science and psychology in NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science, for their work in establishing the Rural China Education Foundation
- Alumnus Scott Harrison for founding the nonprofit “charity: water,” which has provided over 6 million with clean water
- The Mercy Project, a sentencing relief initiative founded by the NYU School of Law’s Center on the Administration of Criminal Law and conducted by NYU Law students
Andrew Hamilton was Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 2009 to 2016. Prior to that, he was the Provost of Yale University, where he was also the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; he joined the Yale faculty in 1997. He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1988, where was a tenured Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Chemistry Department. Before joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, he was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University.
His area of scholarly interest lies at the intersection of organic and biologic chemistry, with particular focus on the use of synthetic design for the understanding, mimicry, and potential disruption of biological processes. He is widely published and the recipient of numerous awards and honors (a list of his publications can be found here). Among his many honors and awards, he is the recipient of the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2004, he was elected a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he was the 2011 winner of the International Izatt-Christiansen Award for Macrocyclic Chemistry.
President Hamilton received a first class BSc from the University of Exeter, his master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He did postdoctoral work at the Université Louis Pasteur.
He is married. He and his wife, Jennie, have three adult children who all live in the United States.