To: The NYU Community
Date: Friday, February 9, 2018
From: President Andrew Hamilton

Dear NYU Faculty Colleagues,

The denial of visas to two members of our NYU New York faculty who were scheduled to teach at our Abu Dhabi campus this academic year has prompted us to review our policies and procedures surrounding mobility throughout our global network. Building upon a series of recent recommendations from the Faculty Committee on NYU’s Global Network, I wanted to provide you with an update on this topic.

As I have previously stated, including in my response to the faculty committee last month, I strongly believe that academic freedom and the free movement of people and ideas – within NYU’s global network and beyond – are, as the committee states, key to our goals of “international scholarly collaboration, learning, and advancement of knowledge.”

And while there has been much speculation about why our two faculty members were denied entry to the UAE, we simply don’t know. However, as I have said previously, it is unimaginable to me that either would pose a security risk based upon their writing and scholarship.

While we obviously do not control the borders of any country in which we operate, we do control our internal mobility processes and communications concerning immigration challenges when they arise. In these two cases, we were deficient in our communications to the individuals involved, and I regret that this exacerbated an already difficult situation. I am consequently committed to immediately improving how we deal with future cases.

In keeping with the committee’s recommendations regarding mobility at NYU, I am laying out broad changes to our processes concerning visas and mobility. They will go into effect immediately.

In the future, if a faculty member’s visa application is denied, the provost of the faculty member’s home campus will be immediately notified of the situation; they will then, in turn, immediately contact the faculty member. In the event that a faculty member learns of a denial directly from a consulate or embassy, they should immediately inform their provost. It is important to remember that in many cases, visas that initially are either denied or delayed are ultimately successful, but we should make sure that faculty are informed of flags at the earliest possible moment. The provost will also connect the faculty member to Josh Taylor, Associate Vice Chancellor, Global Programs and Mobility Services, who has recently taken on supervision of the Office of Global Services, which handles student and scholar mobility in New York. Josh will become a day-to-day point of contact for the faculty member as his or her visa application continues to work its way through the system.

In addition, Josh will inform the chairs of the Faculty Committee on NYU’s Global Network, as well as the faculty member’s departmental chair or dean, of any postponements or cancellations of any NYU faculty member’s plans to travel to another NYU campus or site in the network. The chairs may share these updates as necessary, though will of course respect an affected faculty member’s rights to confidentiality. I am also asking Josh to increase collaboration between the Office of Global Services and teams working on mobility-related efforts in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, including those involving students and administrators, so that all members of the NYU community can be kept fully informed about any potential challenges to mobility across our global network.

It is the university’s policy to escalate any denials of faculty visas through relevant parties. In the US, this typically means through the offices of our members of Congress, and in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and other countries that host NYU campuses and centers, through appropriate governmental and quasi-governmental entities. If, for any reason, an individual prefers at any stage of the process that we not continue to pursue their visa, we will of course respect those wishes.

As part of our efforts to improve our mobility process throughout the global network, we will also immediately begin implementing a number of other recommendations from the Faculty Committee on NYU’s Global Network, including: Posting clear procedures and timelines for visa applications and travel to each of the three portal campuses and our global academic centers, providing clear points of contact for any mobility-related questions, developing a mechanism for providing updates about mobility issues, and providing greater detail about denials and other challenges in the University’s Global Mobility Reports (without violating privacy). Josh, in consultation with the committee and with leadership in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, as well as at our global academic centers, will work on these, and other topics that may arise, including exploring the feasibility of alternative means for a faculty member to teach his or her course remotely, if that is of interest to the faculty member in question.

I chose to come to NYU in large part because of its bold global vision and presence. There have been and will be challenges. But I remain firm in my conviction that the global course NYU has set for itself is positive, beneficial, and distinctive, and that it offers our students and faculty unique academic opportunities. I am convinced, as well, that with input and consultation from faculty, we can ensure that as global efforts continue to mature and develop, they will do so in a way which reflect our highest institutional and academic values.


Andrew Hamilton