yellow taxi cab on Greenwich Village street corner with purple NYU flag in the background

What a year it's been. In a turn of events that none of us could have anticipated, the spring semester saw the University pivot to remote instruction for all classes—starting with NYU Shanghai in January and including New York and all other locations by mid-March—as the spread of COVID-19 fundamentally altered life around the globe. Our faculty, students, administrators, and staff have demonstrated tremendous resilience and creativity in the face of that challenge, and stories and updates about NYU's collective response to the pandemic can be found at

But the virus isn't all that defined this academic year. NYU faculty, students, and alumni received prestigious honors, researchers made headlines with their discoveries, and prospective students applied to join next year's class in record numbers. NYU as an institution moved up in national and global rankings, commemorated cultural milestones through discussion and scholarship, and renewed our commitments to inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity. 

Before we begin our next chapter together—and send our best wishes to the Class of 2020 as they start theirs—here's a look back at some highlights from 2019-20.

Summer 2019

  • NYU came in at no. 39 globally in the 2020 QS World University Rankings—up from no. 43 for 2019.
  • NYU Shanghai broke ground on its new campus in Pudong’s Qiantan district, which was designed by global architectural firm KPF and will accommodate up to 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
  • NYU alumni and faculty took home a slew of Tony Awards and nominations, including for Hadestown, the year's Best Musical.
  • NYU commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28 with a series of events and a documentary on how our faculty, students, administrators, and alumni have engaged with the LGBTQ movement.
  • Playbill reported that NYU was the university with the most alumni performing on Broadway, while Forbes put as at no. 1 for the most Hollywood stars.
  • The Hollywood Reporter ranked NYU no. 2 on its list of 25 top film schools. 


  • NYU came in at no. 29 on the 2020 US News Best Colleges list for national universities—up from no. 36 in 2017.
  • 15 NYU alumni won Emmy Awards.
  • A/P/A Institute artist-in-residence Ocean Vuong was named a MacArthur Fellow
  • Bobst library displayed nine panels from the NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt to close out NYU's yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
  • NYU launched an undergraduate major in data science, conferred by the College of Arts and Science and taught by the Center for Data Science with courses offered by the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
  • At no. 31 overall and no. 4 in the education industry, we came in just behind Google—and ahead of Microsoft and Apple—in a Forbes ranking of best employers for new college graduates.


  • Tara Westover discussed her memoir, Educated, which had been chosen as the fall NYU Reads common reading for the whole university community, at an event at Skirball. 
  • NYU's Prison Education Program celebrated its third annual graduation at Wallkill Correctional Facility, with six graduates receiving associates degrees in Liberal Studies.
  • The New York City Mayor's Office declared October 28, 2019 NYU School of Professional Studies Day by official proclamation, marking the school's 85th anniversary.
  • NYU's Higher Education Opportunity Program—the largest in the state—celebrated its 50th anniversary. 
  • NYU and 18 other prominent US universities filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of their students who participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
  • NYU chemists rediscovered a more effective insecticide—with unsettling ties to German scientists from World War II—that infectious disease experts said is desperately needed.


  • Twenty-three NYU faculty were named to the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list of scientists and social scientists who published papers that rank in the top 1 percent for citations in their field over the past decade.
  • Two NYU Abu Dhabi students—Abdulla Alhashmi and Munib Mesinovic—were selected as 2020 UAE Rhodes Scholars.
  • For its 10th anniversary, NYU Tel Aviv hosted a symposium on international education in the digital age.
  • NYU joined 118 colleges and universities in signing an amicus brief fighting for the right of international students to experiential learning.
  • Several NYU alumni made the 2019 Time 100 Next list.


  • For the 17th year in a row, the annual "Open Doors" Survey by the Institute of International Education ranked NYU no. 1 among all US universities for sending students to study abroad. It was also the fifth consecutive year that we ranked no. 1 for both international students studying at NYU—a record 19,600 for the 2018-19 school year—and the number of NYU students studying abroad.
  • We launched Scope, a yearly magazine of feature stories on groundbreaking research and scholarly insights from across the University.


  • To mark 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment—when some, though not all, women gained the right to vote—NYU kicked off NYUWomxn100, a yearlong program of events and discussions to celebrate the lives, pursuits, innovations, and achievements of womxn of transgender, non-binary, and cisgender experiences. The series recognizes the often unseen and unacknowledged efforts of womxn, particularly those of historically and contemporary marginalized backgrounds.
  • A team led by NYU professor David Holland found warm water at a vital point underneath an Antarctic glacier—an alarming discovery that raises concerns about global sea-level rise. Collecting the data took about 96 hours in subzero weather.
  • NYU alumni won a total of 8 GRAMMY awards. In total, 26 members of the NYU community—including alumni and faculty from Tisch, Steinhardt, Gallatin, and Stern—received 37 nominations, including Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music alumna Maggie Rogers' nomination for Best New Artist.
  • President Andy Hamilton joined NYU students, faculty, and staff in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to show solidarity with the Jewish community in the wake of numerous anti-Semitic incidents in and around New York City.
  • NYU was recognized on a Forbes list as one of America's best employers for diversity in 2020, coming in eighth among universities.


  • NYU received 85,513 applications for first-year admission in the fall, breaking records for the 13th year in a row.
  • An update to Albert allowed students the opportunity to specify their pronouns, as well as the pronunciation of their names, in NYU's official records. Students can have this information displayed to faculty, advisors, and administrators in Albert, NYU Classes, as well as other NYU systems.
  • About 90 NYU students traveled to Albany to talk with state legislators about the importance of state-funded financial aid programs as part of New York State Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day.
  • Alumna Carol Dysinger (Tisch ’77), an associate professor in the Graduate Film program, earned an Academy Award in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category for Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). Six faculty and alumni were nominated for Oscars.
  • Tarana Burke, advocate and founder of the #MeToo Movement, spoke in conversation with Dolores Huerta, founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and María Teresa Kumar, activist, social entrepreneur, and founder of Voto Latino, at an all-university event for NYU MLK Week.


  • NYU, which ranks no. 1 globally as the university with the highest percentage of funded companies led by a female founder (according to PitchBook data), held a Female Founders Forum on March 6. 
  • On Wednesday, March 10, NYU moved to remote instruction for all classes in New York to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For a full archive of coronavirus-related news, updates, and resources, please visit:


  • Three NYU professors were awarded 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships: Jenny McPhee, academic director of the Center for Applied Liberal Arts at SPS; Kim Phillips-Fein of Gallatin; and Melissa Schwartzberg, a Silver Professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics.
  • Dolly Chugh (Stern), Stephen Duncombe (Gallatin), Kenneth Egol (Grossman School of Medicine), Troy McKenzie (Law), Margaret Raywood (Tisch), and Dorothy J. Wholihan (Meyers) received 2019-20 Distinguished Teaching Awards.
  • NYU joined a consortium of 40 leading universities from around the world to launch the International Universities Climate Alliance, which will work together to identify the best methods to communicate evidence-based research related to climate change to the general public. Members will engage in work across climate change science, impact, mitigation strategies, and adaptation.
  • NYU received a gold rating from Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS), conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Our STARS score put us in the top 30% of certified institutions—ahead of many urban peer universities. 
  • President Andy Hamilton signed the Presidential Commitment to strive toward full student voting participation as part of the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.


  • Two NYU alumni—Michael R. Jackson (Tisch '03 '05) and Molly O'Toole (GSAS '11)—won 2020 Pulitzer Prizes. Jackson's play A Strange Loop won for drama and O'Toole was part of the reporting team for This American Life's "The Out Crowd," which won a new prize for audio reporting.
  • Three NYU faculty—Gerard Ben Arous and Lai-Sang Young, professors at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; and Dafna Bar-Sagi, executive vice president and vice dean for science, chief scientific officer of NYU Langone Health—were elected to the National Academy of Sciences.