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2 cultures, 1 university

By Zhang Zefeng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-08 07:43

2 cultures, 1 university

The campus of New York University Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Class of 2017 has graduated from New York University Shanghai. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Students from all corners of the world dressed in caps and violet gowns formed a violet-colored wave as they walked from the New York University Shanghai to the Shanghai Oriental Art Center to attend the inaugural commencement on May 28 this year.

The first class of 264 graduates from China, the United States and 31 other countries were awarded their NYU bachelor's degrees and NYU Shanghai diplomas. For two consecutive nights, one of the city's landmark buildings, the Oriental Pearl Tower, was lit up in violet in honor of their graduation.

Jointly established by New York University and East China Normal University in 2012, NYU Shanghai was the first Sino-US joint-venture university in China. It was literally built from scratch.

"Back then NYU Shanghai didn't even have a campus. Students spent their first year studying at East China Normal University," recalls Yu Lizhong, the chancellor of NYU Shanghai. "In terms of faculty, we had a list of over 100 NYU professors, but we weren't so sure who would come to teach."

The Class of 2017 turned out to be a success. By June, 32.3 percent of students had already been admitted to graduate schools including Harvard, MIT, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, and 37.3 percent entered the professional world with desirable offers.

"I have special regard for our first group of graduates," says Yu. "They had the guts to be the first to try out a brand-new education model."

"They could have entered first-tier Chinese universities such as Tsinghua University and Peking University and opt for a predictable, yet still promising, future," Yu says. "Instead, they embarked on an unknown academic journey to alter their life path by enrolling with NYU Shanghai," he adds.

Over the past five years, NYU Shanghai has become one of the leading examples of China's efforts to internationalize its education system.

At the commencement, Vice-Premier Liu Yandong applauded the university as having "achieved remarkable success in creating an innovative school system, cultivating outstanding talent and boosting cultural exchanges".

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