closeup of a building facade with "New York University" lettering

As President Hamilton has often written this year, 2020-2021 will stand apart in NYU's history. Never before have we completed an entire academic year with a hybrid teaching and learning setup, remote work, phyiscal distancing, and a host of safety protocols—from masking to testing—against the backdrop of a pandemic and other national and global crises. And yet, thanks to the dedication of our university community, academic life proceeded uninterrupted: researchers made new discoveries and artists created new work; faculty, students, and staff garnered prestigious honors and top prizes; NYU and its schools moved up in several rankings; and we received a record number of applications while admitting the most diverse new class in NYU's history. As we look forward to having more of us back together on campus again, here's a look back at some other milestones and accomplishments from this challenging year.


After months of health and safety planning, the announcement of new testing and quarantining protocols, and a phased, physically distanced move-in to the residence halls, some students and faculty returned to campus for in-person instruction, with many others returning remotely. 

Seventeen NYU Tisch alumni received a total of 18 Creative and Primetime Emmy Awards.

Tisch came in at no. 3 on the Hollywood Reporter's 2020 ranking of top film schools. 


In taking the Cool Food Pledge, NYU committed to a 25 percent reduction of food-related greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, joining 30 other organizations who serve more than 800 million meals annually. The University is also on its way to reducing emissions 50 percent by 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.

The Board of Elections in the City of New York and and NYU established the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts as one of only 16 locations for early voting in Manhattan for the 2020 election. While NYU is consistently a designated polling site on Election Day, this was the first time NYU hosted early voting.

Even with a Broadway season cut short due to the pandemic, NYU faculty and alumni were still nominated for more than 20 Tony Awards. 

Fred Moten, a Tisch professor in the Department of Performance Studies, was named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow. 

President Hamilton announced the winners—Elise Cappella, Jacob William Faber, Leah Lattimore, Marcus R. Pyle, and Lorel E. Burns—of the 2020 Making a Difference Awards, given bienially to faculty, employees, students, and young alumni who have found innovative ways to address some of their community’s most pressing problems. 

The Faculty of Arts and Science welcomed award-winning poet Claudia Rankine as a new professor of creative writing. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations,” a 2014 essay in the Atlantic, was named the “Top Work of Journalism of the Decade” by a panel of judges convened by NYU's Carter Journalism Institute. The complete top 10 for the deacde were announced at a virtual ceremony on October 14.

100 gecs, the groundbreaking pop duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les, joined Tisch's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music as artists-in-residence for the 2020-2021 academic year. 


NYU unveiled a new high-performance computing cluster, Greene, which is now the most powerful supercomputer in the New York metropolitan area, one of the top 10 most powerful supercomputers in higher education, and one of the top 100 greenest supercomputers in the world.

Two NYU Abu Dhabi students, Maitha AlSuwaidi and Hoor Alnuaimi, were selected as 2021 UAE Rhodes Scholars.

Twenty-six NYU faculty members were named to the 2020 Highly Cited Researchers list from Clarivate Analytics, which recognized social scientists from around the world who have published multiple papers that rank in the top 1 percent by citations in their fields over the past decade (2009-2019).


NYU Langone received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines and began vaccinating health care workers.

Two Tisch students, Essence Lotus and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas, were selected as 2021 Marshall Scholars. 

Jin Kim Montclare, Tandon professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Daniel Sodickson, Tandon professor of biomedical engineering, were named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.


Members of our community became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, and NYU was approved as a vaccination site. 

NYU announced that for the first time it had received over 100,000 applications for first-year undergraduate admission—a 20 percent increase over the prevoius year and the 14th consecutive year of record-breaking application numbers.


A surgical team from NYU Langone Health performed a face and double hand transplant for a 22-year-old New Jersey resident who had been severely burned in a car crash. The surgery included transplanting both hands and the full face of a single donor, and marked the first successful combination transplant case of its kind.

President Hamilton announced that, due to public health concerns and event and travel restrictions, the 2021 Commencement would be virtual.

Tisch announced the establishment of a new scholarship honoring the talent, legacy, and memory of actor, director, producer, and alumnus Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Two NYU faculty—Elena Manresa in the Department of Economics and David Schneider in the Center for Neural Science—were awarded fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Tisch alumna Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to win Best Director at the Golden Globes. 

President Joe Biden sent a letter to be read at Glucksman Ireland House's virtual gala.

Devonté Hynes—also known as Blood Orange—joined the Clive Davis Institue of Recorded Music as an artist-in-residence for the spring semester. 


With a $25 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, NYU Wagner established a competitive new fellowship program for the next generation of diverse public service leaders—named in honor of Michael R. Bloomberg's daughter, Georgina, and mother, Charlotte, who both earned NYU degrees.

Angie Kamath, University Dean at the City University of New York (CUNY), was named the new dean of NYU’s School of Professional Studies, effective July 1, 2021.

NYU alumni and faculty took home five Grammy awards at the 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony. In total, 15 members of the NYU community earned 16 Grammy nominations.

Several NYU schools were ranked in the top 10 on U.S. New and World Report's Best Graduate Schools list, including those for medicine, nursing, and education. 


Only 12.8 percent of applicants were admitted to the New York campus's Class of 2025—a new record for selectivity for NYU. Twenty-nine percent of those accepted were under-represented students, 20 percent are first generation college-goers, 20 percent are Pell-eligible, and 19 percent are international students. Those admitted to the new claiss hail from from 102 countries and all 50 states.

Tisch alumna Chloé Zhao made history when she became the first Asian woman to take home the Academy Award for Best Director for Nomadland, her haunting feature exploring the lives of van-dwelling modern-day nomads in the American West. A woman of color had never before won the Oscar for Best Director and Zhao is only the second woman to do so in the show’s 93-year history.

NYU announced it will require all students who plan to be on NYU's New York campus and at other US sites to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement is designed to facilitate the resumption of full, in-person campus activity and reduce the risk of infection on campus and within the local community.

Eight NYU faculty members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and three were elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Susan Murray, a professor in Steinhardt's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, was awarded a 2021 Guggenhim Fellowship.