NYU Shanghai’s Vice Chancellor Granted Honorary Shanghai Citizenship

Lehman accepting an award with Mayor Gong
Jan 26 2022

In a January 24 ceremony, Shanghai’s Mayor Gong Zheng formally awarded honorary Shanghai citizenship to NYU Shanghai Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman. Since 1997, the honor has been bestowed upon 48 individual foreigners who have made valuable contributions to the city’s growth and development. Lehman was one of just two foreign citizens approved to receive honorary citizenship by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress in 2021, alongside Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman of the L’Oreal cosmetic company.

At the ceremony, Mayor Gong presented Lehman with a medal and certificate of citizenship, accompanied by words of appreciation for the vice chancellor’s work in support of the city. “Vice Chancellor Lehman, thank you for your outstanding contributions to education in Shanghai and developing exchange and cooperation between China and the rest of the world,” Gong said. “We look forward to your future contributions in bringing more foreigners to participate in transnational exchanges in Shanghai.”  

Lehman has lived in Shanghai for almost a decade, arriving in 2012 to serve as NYU Shanghai’s Founding Vice Chancellor and to help build the world’s first Sino-U.S. joint university. With Chancellor Emeritus Yu Lizhong and current Chancellor Tong Shijun, Lehman has guided NYU Shanghai from a single class of 295 first year students into a thriving research university with nearly 2,000 undergraduates and several hundred graduate students. 

During his tenure, NYU Shanghai has recruited world renowned senior scholars and some of the world’s most promising young researchers to the university’s faculty. NYU Shanghai graduates have won prestigious international fellowships, continued their studies at internationally renowned universities, and secured employment with outstanding entities in all sectors.


To mark the occasion, Vice Chancellor Lehman shared some of his favorite spots in his adopted hometown.

“In the decade that we have been building our university, Shanghai has become my home, a city that I truly love,” Lehman said. “I see this award as a recognition of the work that NYU Shanghai has done to strengthen our city’s ties to outstanding higher education - around China and around the world.”

Lehman also currently serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Before moving to Shanghai, Lehman had served as the founding dean of the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen. He has also served as the eleventh president of Cornell University, and as dean of the University of Michigan Law School.  

In 2018, China named Lehman one of “The Most Influential Foreign Experts During 40 Years of China’s Reform and Opening-Up.” He also received a Gold Magnolia Award from the Shanghai Municipal People's Government in 2015.