Thursday, June 5, 2003
DOHA, Qatar – The first
American university in Qatar’s Education City – the Virginia Commonwealth
University School of the Arts in Qatar – will graduate its second class in
commencement exercises June 12 in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.
This year’s graduation
marks the fifth year of a partnership between VCU and the Qatar Foundation for
Education, Science and Community Development, which is building an Education
City in Doha, a new private university with branch campuses of the world’s top
universities. VCU, with a
nationally ranked, leading arts and design school, is the first four-year
American university to graduate students.
“VCU not only is providing
a world-class visual arts education to students in this part of the world, but
it also is working to make education a bridge between our two countries,” said
VCU President Dr. Eugene P. Trani.
VCU-Qatar also is working to
ensure that graduates can pursue their careers in their home region, according
to the Dean of the VCU School of the Arts, Richard Toscan.
“The real interest is that we’re doing two important things –
providing professional design education for women in the Arabian Gulf region and
helping to develop a design industry in Qatar,” he said.
The partnership between Qatar
and VCU will be highlighted at commencement ceremonies with the award of a
Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree to the chairperson of the board of
directors of the Qatar Foundation, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al
Missned, wife of the emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al
Thani. Sheikha Mozah will be cited for her personal guidance of the
development of a visionary education system in Qatar.
“To have an honorary
doctorate conferred upon me by VCU is a great honor, symbolic of the successful
and dynamic partnership between Qatar and VCU in promoting excellence and
innovation in education,” Sheikha Mozah said.
“I am accepting it on behalf of all Qataris who have dedicated and will
continue to dedicate themselves to the development of their country.”
Sixteen students – all from
the Middle East and all females -- will receive their Bachelor of Fine Arts
degrees in graphic design, fashion design and interior design. There are 120
students enrolled at VCU-Qatar and 26 faculty, most of them from the VCU main
campus in Richmond, Va.
One of the faculty, fashion
design professor Sandra Bell Wilkins, will be honored for her 25 years of
service to VCU, the last four of which have been at VCU-Qatar.
She will be awarded the Margaret Anne Petrie Education Award for her
leadership in university service and her dedication to community involvement,
both of which have played critical roles in the development of the VCU School of
the Arts in Qatar.
Commencement speakers will be
Gisue and Mojgan Hariri, founders of the world-renowned architectural firm,
Hariri & Hariri. The sisters,
natives of Iran, established their practice in New York City in 1986 after
graduating from Cornell University and completing their apprenticeships with
distinguished architectural offices.
Class valedictorian Ghalya
Jumah Al-Mohannadi of Doha will offer remarks at the commencement.
Al-Mohannadi, 21, is graduating with a 3.92 average from the Department
of Interior Design.
This is the second
commencement at VCU-Qatar. The
first class of VCU-Qatar graduated in June 2002.
VCU-Qatar was formed in 1997
under a 10-year agreement with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and
Community Development. The programs at VCU-Qatar have the same admission
standards and nearly identical curricula as those required at VCU’s main
campus. VCU exercises full academic control over the hiring of faculty and
staff, curriculum and student services. All
construction, maintenance, personnel and operational costs for the campus are
provided by the Foundation.
VCU-Qatar operates under
approvals and authorization of the State Council of Higher Education for
Virginia (SCHEV), the Virginia General Assembly and the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACS).
About The Qatar Foundation
The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development
is a non-profit organization, which aims to initiate and support
educational research and community development and to fully develop the
potential of the citizens of Qatar. Under the aegis of Her Highness
Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned the facility will provide
educational opportunities from kindergarten to post-graduate programs.
Current units include Qatar Academy, The Social Development Center, The
Learning Center, The Academic Bridge Program, Virginia Commonwealth
University School of the Arts in Qatar, the Weill Cornell Medical
College in Qatar, Rand–Qatar Policy Institute and Texas A&M. For
more see www.qf.edu.qa.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.