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China Daily Website

NYU Shanghai sets bar high for research

Updated: 2013-01-12 01:54
By HU HAIDAN in New York and Todd Balazovic in Beijing ( China Daily)

Eight members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a former Cornell University president are among the faculty members scheduled to teach at New York University's Shanghai campus starting in September.

NYU Shanghai, the first joint Chinese-US educational institution to receive approval from China's Ministry of Education, is an example of international cooperation in higher education. Its first group of 200 to 300 undergraduates will be enrolled for the inaugural 2013-14 academic year.

"NYU Shanghai aims to become a world-class research university," said Yu Lizhong, chancellor of the campus. "To achieve this goal, we need to attract the best faculty, enroll the most talented students and create the best educational environment." So far, more than 20 faculty members, including many from NYU's main campus in Manhattan, have been designated to teach in Shanghai for the 2013-14 academic year.

The list includes Jeffrey Lehman, a former president of Cornell, who was hired as vice-chancellor and law professor; Wang Xiaojing, former director of Yale University's Swartz program in Theoretical Neuroscience; and Joanna Waley-Cohen, former chairwoman of NYU's history department.

"Recruitment of faculty is still in process," Yu said. "Our faculty/student ratio will be one to eight. This allows for robust classroom discussion and individualized attention."

At NYU Shanghai, 40 percent of the faculty in the upcoming academic year will be from NYU's main campus, 40 percent will be recruited from other institutions around the world and 20 percent will be guest professors from other prominent international universities.

NYU Shanghai's student body is also diverse, with 49 percent from other countries. "We want to make sure that this relationship between China and the rest of the world is part of everyone's experience from the moment they wake up in the morning," Lehman said.

Administrators see partnerships as opportunities for cross-cultural learning among students and faculty alike. Cultivating global networks is crucial to success, and this idea is built into the structure of NYU Shanghai's academic program, Yu said.

David Backus, who teaches economics at NYU's Stern School of Business and was involved in the preparations for the Shanghai campus, said Chinese students "have much different life experiences than American students".

He added, "We have a number of foreign students at our New York campus, and I very much enjoy the difference in perspective they bring to class."

Backus, who said he may teach at NYU Shanghai in the future, expects the new campus to employ the same teaching methods and styles used in New York.

Students admitted to NYU Shanghai are required to speak English, which will be the language of instruction on campus.

"English-language proficiency is part of the admission requirements. We will evaluate whether students can communicate freely in English during candidate weekends," Yu said.

NYU Shanghai is the third degree-granting campus of NYU. All credits are transferable within the integrated system so that students and faculty can move easily to pursue their academic interests.

Lehman said NYU Shanghai's undergraduate programs in arts and sciences will provide a classical liberal education. Students will spend at least five semesters in Shanghai and as many as three semesters at any of the 10 campuses that are either part of NYU or affiliated with the university.

The campus in China gives NYU a presence in a country that sends more students to the United States than any other.

"I think that in the 21st century, everyone on the planet is going to be deeply affected by the relationship between China and the US," Lehman said. "NYU Shanghai is for someone to become really deeply immersed in both cultures and sophisticated in how they interact."

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