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22 August, 2010

VCUQatar Welcomes Faculty and Staff to the New 2010-2011 Academic Year

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar celebrated the new 2010-2011 academic year by welcoming, recognizing and honoring new and existing faculty and staff with a special reception event held at the VCUQatar atrium last week.

Each year VCUQatar organizes the Welcome Reception after a week of orientation for the new faculty and staff. This year, 13 new employees arrived on campus for orientation week on 8 August. The session began with a welcome from VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone and Tariq Al Suwaidi, head of Immigration Services at Qatar Foundation. This was followed by presentations by the directors of the various administrative and academic departments. On Monday, the new employees went on a tour of Doha and on Wednesday attended a Cultural Awareness session. The week-long activities ended with a leadership training workshop on Thursday, 12 August.

“I came to Qatar from the hottest summer ever recorded in my native Finland, a country where its inhabitants are happy if the thermometer climbs into the 20s in July and where the winter temperature can easily reach negative 40 degrees Celsius, factors which unfortunately entail that there are very few buildings or vehicles with air-conditioning even in the south of Finland,” said Thomas Modeen, the new assistant professor for the MFA program. “After many a sweltering day and night in temperatures well over 30 C it was a true relief to return to the ambient world of pervasive AC - the Middle-East,” smilingly added the professor who previously lived in Kuwait for three years, working as an architect and teaching at Kuwait University and also in Oman, teaching at the University of Nizwa.

“Coming to Doha has been like walking through a dim tunnel and then emerging into a bright and vast arena: it is a little intimidating, a lot exciting, and full of chances to do something remarkable,” said Richard Lombard, the new Materials curator.  “I have been struck by the concentration of talent and potential here – from the Philharmonic to the stadiums to Education City – there are just so many incredible people who are ready and able to do incredible things.”

The Reception on 16 August began with Dean Vanstone welcoming all 47 faculty and 73 staff to the new academic year and the new building expansion – an addition of 11,400 m2 to the existing 8900 m2 space. Dean Vanstone also introduced guests from VCU Richmond, who were in Qatar for orientation, after which the new faculty and staff proceeded to briefly introduce themselves to their colleagues.

Dean Vanstone then took the gathering through a presentation ‘VCUQatar Moments from 2009-2010’, highlighting the university’s achievements that ranged from hosting the successful Hamad Bin Khalifa Islamic Art Symposium in Cordoba, Spain, gallery exhibitions, the Spring Lecture Series, the annual fashion show and community classes, to community development initiatives and other Education City, local, regional and international collaborations in the art and design world.

This was followed by the award ceremony, recognizing individuals who distinguished themselves over a period of years in service to the school and community. Four employees – Lolwa Abdulla, manager of Procurement, Jesse Ulmer, assistant professor of English, Moamer Qazafi, director of Marketing and Public Relations and Hissa Al Garni, director of Student Activities - were recognized for their five-year service to VCUQatar and six employees – Patty Gibbons and Robin Fetherston, both assistant professors of English, Beena Nooruddin, Library Technical Services manager, Iman Mazhar, Library specialist, Peter Martin, assistant professor for Graphic Design and Ibrahim Abdulghafoor, Bookstore keeper – were recognized for their 10-year service to the university. Dr. John Schmeelk, associate professor for Mathematics was recognized for 35 years of service to VCU, seven of which he has served as professor at VCUQatar.

This year, since the Reception took place in the holy month of Ramadan, as opposed to being a full-day event, the assembly concluded at 1:00 PM and faculty and staff met together later in the evening at 6:00 PM for the Iftar at a local restaurant on the Corniche.

VCUQatar faculty and staff in the Saffron Hall of the new expansion

VCUQatar faculty and staff in the Saffron Hall of the new expansion