NYU Shanghai Announces Appointment of Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences

Oct 15 2012
Written by NYU Shanghai

15 October 2012 – SHANGHAI – The Board of Directors of NYU Shanghai is pleased to announce the appointment of the Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences of NYU Shanghai - an exciting new university and the newest campus in NYU's Global Network University: Xiao-Jing Wang, a renowned professor of neurobiology at Yale University has been named Provost of NYU Shanghai, and Joanna Waley-Cohen, a leading scholar of Chinese history and a member of the NYU faculty since 1992, has been named Dean of Arts and Sciences. In addition, R. May Lee will continue her work at NYU Shanghai as Deputy Vice Chancellor, overseeing the admission and financial aid as well as the long-term strategic planning for NYU Shanghai.

As Provost, Professor Wang will serve as NYU Shanghai’s chief academic officer, setting the university’s academic strategy and priorities, and overseeing academic appointments, research, and faculty affairs.  As Dean of Arts and Sciences, Professor Waley-Cohen will be responsible for recruitment of faculty, curriculum oversight, and intellectual development of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences at NYU Shanghai, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

NYU President John Sexton said, “What sets a good university apart is the quality of the people it is able to attract to its community of scholars. Xiao-Jing is a distinguished neurobiologist and a dedicated teacher who is able to motivate the people with whom he works to reach their highest potential. Apart from his excellent teaching and administration experience, he has impressed the search committee with his focus on undergraduate education and learning, and his personal warmth. Xiao-Jing is truly a profound validation of our drive for academic excellence and will continue to exemplify our vision for creating a global network university. On behalf of the entire NYU community, I welcome him to the NYU family.”

Since 2006, Xiao-Jing Wang has been a professor of neurobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine and Director of the Swartz Program in Theoretical Neuroscience; in addition, he is an adjunct professor of physics, applied mathematics, and psychology at Yale.  Prior to that, he was a professor of neuroscience at Brandeis University.  He has also held visiting faculty positions at MIT, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“Joanna is a highly-esteemed historian, and has been a member of the NYU community for more than 20 years. Her scholarship and commitment to learning are widely respected and have been recognized by the external scholarly community and the NYU community. I congratulate her on her new role and believe that she will continue to exemplify the NYU values, and in particular our focus on excellence in scholarship and education.” said John Sexton.

Dean Waley-Cohen is a professor of history and a Collegiate Professor at NYU, and she has served as chair of the History Department since 2009. Prior to coming to NYU, she taught at Yale, MIT, and Columbia. 

Both Provost Wang and Dean Waley-Cohen have outstanding scholarly credentials, consistent with the high standards for academic excellence that will be set for the campus.  As senior academic leaders, they will focus on developing a strong faculty,  providing the best educational programs and environment for the students, and  to ensuring that the unique advantages of NYU’s global network -- which provides unique and unmatched research, educational, and collaborative opportunities – will be available to faculty and students..

May's tireless efforts in spearheading the initial design and implementation of NYU Shanghai have culminated in a new leadership team, a bustling construction site, innovative curricular and research agendas, and plans for the recruitment of world-class faculty and students.  She will now continue her work on NYU Shanghai as Deputy Vice Chancellor.  In that capacity, she will be relocated to Shanghai where she will work with Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman and the rest of the leadership team on academic and administrative planning for NYU Shanghai. In addition, she will become head of Admissions and Financial Aid at NYU Shanghai and in that role lead the admissions efforts for the inaugural class.  As she plays these roles at NYU Shanghai, she will also work with Vice Chancellor of Strategic Planning, Dick Foley, on long term strategic goals for the entire global network university, with a special emphasis on Asia; her title in this role will be Vice Chancellor, Strategic Planning for Asia.

About NYU Shanghai

NYU Shanghai is the newest portal campus in NYU’s global network. It is a world-class, comprehensive liberal arts and sciences research university granting NYU degrees in China’s commercial center. The undergraduate student population will ultimately be in the range of 1,600 to 2,400, with smaller classes to start, and its students will come from China and around the world, with 51% Chinese and 49% international. NYU Shanghai students will have access to NYU’s global network and spend one to three semesters studying abroad.

The NYU Shanghai admissions process is highly competitive and combines the best of the Chinese and US educational systems, which means considering test scores as well as a wide range of other factors. It has been classified as a Tier 1 university in the GaoKao system.

About Xiao-Jing Wang

Xiao-Jing Wang entered Peking University in the Biology Department in 1978, and was selected to study in Belgium in 1979. He received his B.S. (1983) summa cum laude and his Ph.D. (1987) with highest honors in physics, from the Université Libre de Bruxelles.  In 1987, he moved to the U.S. and switched to the then nascent field of Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, which integrates mathematical models with laboratory experiments in the science of behavior and mind. Dr. Wang’s research interests focus on the neurobiology of executive and cognitive functions, and his group has pioneered neural circuit models of the prefrontal cortex, which is often called the “CEO of the brain.”  He is widely published and cited, and he was a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a National Institute of Health First Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow.  He has also been recognized with the “Thousand Talents” award.

About Joanna Waley-Cohen

Joanna Waley-Cohen received her B.A. (1974), and her M.A. (1977) in Chinese studies from Cambridge University, where she was a member of Girton College, and her Ph.D. (1987) in history from Yale University.  Her research interests include early modern Chinese history; China and the West; and Chinese imperial culture.  Joanna is widely published.  Her books include The Culture of War in China: Empire and the Military under the Qing Dynasty (I.B. Tauris, 2006); The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History (W.W. Norton, 1999); and Exile in Mid-Qing China: Banishment to Xinjiang, 1758-1820 (Yale University Press, 1991).  Her many honors include archival and postdoctoral fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Goddard and Presidential Fellowships from NYU; and an Olin Fellowship in Military and Strategic History from Yale, among others.

About R. May Lee

As Vice Chancellor, Strategic Planning - Asia for NYU, and Deputy Vice Chancellor for NYU Shanghai, R. May Lee is a key partner in developing the University’s growing portfolio in Asia and in particular, spearheading the effort to develop a degree-granting campus in China. She also provides strategic assistance to NYU in its efforts to achieve optimal administrative and operational integration of the various components of the NYU global network.  She is a valued member of the University Leadership Team (ULT) and the Provost Advisory Group (PAG).

Before joining NYU, May was Managing Director and Chief of Staff to the CEO of Merrill Lynch, where she managed a broad portfolio that included helping set and manage key strategic priorities and goals for the firm.  Prior to that, she was Chief Executive of two companies: Fly Communications (formerly known as Rowen Warren) and MarketBoy Inc. From 1994-2000, she worked at Goldman Sachs in a variety of capacities, including Counsel to the Fixed Income Division and Chief Operating Officer of the Credit Derivatives business. She also has extensive experience working in China, having been based in Beijing with Kamsky Associates. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she attended Peking University for a year before obtaining her J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she is now a Lifetime Trustee.