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On the eve on NYU Shanghai’s inaugural Commencement ceremony, the city's Oriental Pearl Tower was lit up in violet in honor of the first graduating class.

Graduates, their families and friends gathered in the plaza at the foot of the tower in Lujiazui Financial Center on Saturday, May 27 for the Send-Off event, which featured performances by members of the Senior Class. The event culminated in a countdown to the illumination of iconic building, followed by an emotional rendition of university's Alma Mater, which was composed for the graduation.

The lighting of the Shanghai landmark echoes an NYU tradition of lighting the Empire State Building violet for NYU's all-university graduation day in New York.










NYU Shanghai held its Inaugural Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 28 at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.  

Wearing violet robes, the 264 graduates, who hail from China, the United States and 31 other countries, processed into the hall in front of dignitaries, friends and families who travelled from around the world to celebrate the historic inaugural graduation.

The ceremony opened with a message from Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, congratulating NYU Shanghai on its "remarkable success in innovating school-running system and mechanism, cultivating outstanding talents and boosting cultural exchanges.”

Click here for photos from the day.

See the full program below. 


The Academic Procession in Orders of March

NYU Shanghai Class of 2017

Led by

Banner Bearer

Gu Sheng, B.A.

Torch Bearer

Tyler Rhorick, B.A.


NYU Shanghai Faculty

Led by

Chief Marshals

Zhang Qiyi, Director of Chinese Language Program

Clay Shirky, Associate Professor


Platform Party

NYU Shanghai Leadership

NYU Leadership

Student Speakers

Distinguished Guests


Order of Exercises

Welcome by Chancellor and Vice Chancellor


The National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China

The National Anthem of the United States of America



Joanna Waley-Cohen,



NYU President’s Message

Andrew Hamilton



William R Berkley, Stern ‘66

NYU Chairman of the Board of Trustees


Alumni Welcome

Andre Koo, Stern ’94

President of the NYU Pan-Asia Alumni Association


Student Speakers

Introduced by Charlene Visconti, Dean of Students

Roxanne Roman, B.A.

Zeyu Zhao, B.A.


NYU Shanghai Chancellors’ Message

Chancellor Yu Lizhong

Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman


Awarding of the Chancellors’ Medal of Honor

Zhou Wen Zhong, Former Chinese Ambassador to the United States

Wang Shi, Founder and Chairman of China Vanke


Presentation of Candidates for Degrees


Conferral of Degrees

Yu Lizhong for NYU Shanghai and Andrew Hamilton for NYU


Ceremony of the Torch

Tyler Rhorick, B.A.

Dylan Crow, Class of 2018


Closing Song

“NYU Shanghai Alma Mater”

Written and composed by Jeremy Hissong, Renzhong Joyce Tan, and Dianna Heldman

Performed by the NYU Shanghai Chorale



NYU Shanghai is delighted to announce the award of the Chancellors’ Medal of Honor to two distinguished individuals, senior Chinese diplomat Zhou Wenzhong and real estate magnate Wang Shi. Both honorees will speak at the university’s first commencement ceremony, to take place on Sunday, May 28th at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center starting at 2 pm.

The inaugural commencement ceremony, designed to reflect the academic traditions of both Chinese universities and NYU’s commencement at Yankee Stadium, will also feature the message from the Chancellors and the President of New York University in addition to this year’s two recipients of the Chancellors’ Medal of Honor.

Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary-General of the Boao Forum for Asia and Vice President of the China-US People's Friendship Association, has held leading posts at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After serving as deputy director of the American Affairs Department for a number of years and later as ambassador to Australia, Zhou was named Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2001. Two years later, he became China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. Zhou, who served as ambassador of China to the United States from 2005 to 2010, promoted greater cultural and education cooperation between China and the United States and played an inspiring role in the establishment of NYU Shanghai.

Wang Shi, chairman of China's real estate giant Vanke Co Ltd, founded the company in 1984. Under his leadership, Vanke has grown into the world’s largest residential home developer by sales revenue. Outside of the office, Wang is also an avid adventurer and mountaineer, who summited Mount Everest from the North and South faces in 2003 and 2010 respectively. He is the eleventh person in the world to accomplish “7+2” -- reaching the Seven Summits in 2004 and the North and South Poles in 2005. Wang, who is definitely no stranger to NYU Shanghai, had the opportunity to meet with many students in the pioneering Class of 2017 during a visit to campus in the fall of 2013.

The NYU Shanghai Medal of Honor is bestowed to an individual who has, through the many dimensions of their life, exemplified the values that our university cherishes.


NYU Shanghai has its own Alma Mater in time to celebrate the graduation of its inaugural Class of 2017. Composed by Student Life staff and NYU alumni, Jeremy Hissong (Steinhardt '14), Tan Renzhong (GSAS '14) and Affiliate Professor Dianna Heldman, the song took shape over the past eight months. Click here to enjoy the soundtrack.

As both composer and producer, Hissong told us  that the metaphor of light and the importance of diversity were the conceptual starting points--symbolic for their representation of the city, the essence of NYU Shanghai and the bright future ahead of its students.

Tuning in to other Alma Maters from US and Chinese universities, Hissong was inspired to compose something “less traditional”, and intentionally veered away early on from the more formal style present in New York University’s Alma Mater.

“We wanted to go for something more upbeat. Formal songs have their place, but there is a feeling of ‘liftoff’, like an airplane, that comes along with this inaugural graduation ceremony,” said Hissong. “Rather than using the Alma Mater to tell everyone that this is a time to focus and be serious, we wanted to embrace the excitement of this special occasion, and build on that energy using music.”

Hissong and Tan captured the spirit of NYU Shanghai’s diversity by integrating a combination of violin, bamboo flute, and percussion from all over the world into the piece, adding touches of Chinese Peking Opera throughout the framework.

“We tried countless iterations of different instrumental arrangements and melodic structures, staying conscious of the need for the lyrics and melody to work in tandem to convey the essence of the song," he said.

A member of the NYU Shanghai Chorale, Tan joined the songwriting efforts last winter primarily as a contributor of Chinese lyrics--driven not only by her passion for music but her own connections to the University. “As an NYU graduate, I fused my own understanding of this institution into the composition. To be able to work on the Alma Mater is a perfect way to give back something special to a community that has educated, nurtured, and changed me on so many levels.” she said.

Instead of word by word translation, Tan incorporated a blend of traditional and modern Chinese phrases to echo and build upon the sentiment of the English lyrics.

The two partners admitted the biggest challenge of the composition process was to translate the feelings around graduation into music without being overtly sentimental. “This song carries a colorful mix of feelings. We’ve refined the instrumental arrangement at the beginning of the song to a balance of eastern and western instruments that we feel portray the organic energy of our University,” Tan said.

After several rounds of heavy polishing, the two were happy  to find that their completed demo was well-received by many students and faculty. “We hope that the Alma Mater can resonate in a special way with the broad spectrum of people that make up our diverse community,” Hissong said.

Hissong highlighted his favorite section lies toward the end of the song, when an unexpected key change gives the song’s energy level a big boost. “The lyrics from both languages start to play off each other in short phrases to convey a unified message,” he said.

“In many ways, this is a metaphor of what NYU Shanghai should strive to be; we are a community of people from different backgrounds that have different ways of expressing ourselves, but special energy comes from the moments when we are able to work together,” he added.

The two composers also expressed gratitude to the NYU Shanghai Chorale, Steinhardt Chorale, musicians and students who made either instrumental or vocal contributions to the song. “It’s so amazing to see how many of our students, staff and faculty members from both Shanghai and New York came together for the song. In this sense, the Alma Mater is a collective piece of work that truly demonstrates the unifying and collaborative spirit of our institution,” Tan concluded.


Alma Mater: Lights of NYU Shanghai




NYU Shanghai Alma Mater



We have come to stand together, soon we'll part our separate ways,

But we leave behind a legacy to light another's way.


We will build on our foundation, cross the mountains and the seas,

Giving rise to strength in unity for all the world to see,

Giving rise to strength in unity for all the world to see.


We are Shanghai, we're the city of lights.

We are Shanghai, and the future is bright.

We're chasing horizons, dispel the dark give rise to

Brightness and love for all lands.

The world is not too big for us to be friends.









We are Shanghai, we're the city of lights.

We are Shanghai, and the future is bright.

We're chasing horizons, dispel the dark give rise to

Brightness and love for all lands.

The world is not too big for us to live...


We've opened up our minds, we're reaching for the skies.

We're united together, we breathe as one.

Bridging our nations, the best is yet to come.


We are Shanghai, we're the city of lights.

We are Shanghai, and the future is bright.


The future's in Shanghai, 这城市流光溢彩

We are Shanghai, 下一站何其精彩

We're chasing horizons, dispel the dark give rise to

Brightness and love for all lands.




The world is not too big,

For all of us to sing.

The world is not too big for us

To live with open minds,

To live with open hearts,

We're reaching for the sky,

We are Shanghai.


Composition, Arrangement, Production, Mixing, Vocals - Jeremy Hissong

Composition, Vocals -  Renzhong Joyce Tan

Composition, Conducting - Dianna Heldman

Mastering - Nick Pitman

Conducting - Yi Mickey Zhang


Violin - Stephanie Song, Hengyuan Shen


Bamboo Flute - Lingjian Ouyang


Vocals - Abiral Chitrakar Phnuyal, Anthony Comeau, Della Wu, Dongyang Fei, Flora Lu, Foong Soon Cheong, Grace Zijin Gao, Hanna Rinderknecht-Mahaffy, Haoran Huang, Jack Zhu Hua, Jianghao Sam Hu, Jiaqi Ariel Dong, Jiaqiao Frank Xiang, Jiaxin Zheng, Katherine Li, Liam Han Shaw, Maya Wang, Mengchu Agnes Zhu, Natalie Kuan, Ninglu Ma, Rong Sang, Ruoxiao Yu, Sara Jo Battat, Shuanyi Shiny Wu, Shuo Jiang, Siyuan Hu (Kelvin), Tri Hoang, Victoria Rusu, Xinyi Wang, Xirui Zhao, Yang, Xuyuan, Yilun Wu, Yinmiao Li, Yixaun Chen, Yue Melody Yin, Yunzhu Irene Gao, Yutong Liu, Zeyu Richard Zhao, Zhengyi Chen, Zixin Harry Wang, Ziyu Lu.

What was your proudest moment as an NYU Shanghai student? What have you learned? What will you miss? Record your memories and messages in the Magnolia Moments video booth!

The Magnolia Moments video booth was opened at the commencement countdown kickoff event on March 2nd on the 15th floor, and is now down in the 2nd Floor Cafe.

Drop by to record your graduation reflections and they could be featured in the university’s Class of 2017 tribute video or in the Gazette Newsletter.

The booth is also open to underclassmen, faculty and staff who would like to record congratulation messages.

“Thank you, NYU Shanghai!” 

From Halloween to Hunger Games, hear some the Class of 2017Students from the Class of 2017 give thanks and share what they will miss most about being part of NYU Shanghai’s first class.

Jose Antonio Cabrera Sanchez ’17: “Thank you for making this journey a fantastic one!”


Lyu Tianshu ’17: “NYU Shanghai gives me the courage to believe.”

Got a graduation message to share? Tell us what made your NYU Shanghai experience unforgettable and we will share it here. Check back for Appreciation Week messages, coming soon!


Kangni Yu '17: "I wish you all a splendid future!"


Michael Chen '17: "I've really made the world my major!"


Kevin Pham '17: "I’ve learned to appreciate what I have."


Ravneet Dehal '17: "NYU Shanghai completely changed who I was."


Yang Xiran '17 Shares Her Graduation Message


Alexander Mayes '17 picks his favorite Shanghai Memories!


So much has happened these past four years... what memories will you be taking with you? 


The Small Print:

By submitting a video you authorize NYU Shanghai to use your image in university publications and other related communication materials. This may include video shown at the commencement ceremony or on the university's website and social media channels. 

Remember to show your ID card to camera before you speak so it records your name.

The 2013 Fund is a student-driven fundraising campaign initiated by NYU Shanghai’s inaugural graduating class of seniors to create a legacy giving program for future students.

While it is traditional for graduating students to make a class gift in support of the students that will follow them, NYU Shanghai’s inaugural class fundraiser has particular significance.

"The gift reflects on our school in a lot of ways--on our character of generosity and gratitude, on our investment in the success of the university through helping future excellent students, and in recognizing that even as students, we each have power to help one another through these small acts of kindness,” said co-founder of the Fund, Roxanne Roman ‘17.

To determine what the driving purpose of the Fund would be, the Fund Committee conducted a survey among senior students. More than 40% percent voted for supporting need-based scholarship for incoming freshmen.


2013 Fund: Make Your Senior Class Gift


“Scholarships support access to great education and the 2013 Fund is a perfect start. Many of my friends could not have come to NYU Shanghai without scholarships,” said Inez Yuxin Tong ‘17, who co-founded the fund with Roman.

Named after the year NYU Shanghai welcomed its inaugural class of students, the 2013 Fund was officially launched on November 22, and as of May 12, has received 338 gifts from students, faculty, staff, NYU alumni and friends, with senior student participation at 62%.

The suggested contribution is US$20.13 (135 RMB), although everyone may give at a level he or she is comfortable with and still make a difference, as 100% of all donations will go to creating scholarships for the incoming freshmen class.

“As a Chinese student, the liberal education of NYU Shanghai distinguishes it from other Chinese universities,” says Tong. “I feel grateful for the small class sizes that generated cultural engagement, study away experiences that prepared us to be open-minded global citizens, and the freedom we had to explore our interests. The 2013 Fund is my first step to giving support back.”



How can I donate?

The easiest way is on the 2013 Fund website. Please contact for enquiries. Or, donate by scanning one of the QR codes below.

​​2013 Fund: Make Your Senior Class Gift

When can I donate?

There is no time like the present! But, you can donate any time between now and August 31, 2017.


Who can donate?

Anyone is welcome to donate. We especially encourage the Class of 2017 and our alumni to give, but welcome contributions from all classes and supporters of NYU Shanghai.


What if I am not able to donate the full $20.13?

You can absolutely donate any amount that you’d like. The number of people who get involved is just as important as the amount of scholarship raised.


“Far more than giving scholarships for individual study,  you are making it possible for more people to make a major difference in the world,” said Professor Anjuli Pandavar, a Language Lecturer at NYU Shanghai’s English for Academic Purposes program.

Donors will be recognized for their generosity on the 2013 Honor Roll and on graduation day.

Pick up your NYU Shanghai 2013 Fund pin to wear proudly at Commencement!