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VCUQatar Welcomes Faculty and Staff to the New 2011-2012 Academic Year

August 25, 2011

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar celebrated the new 2011-2012 academic year by welcoming new and returning faculty and staff during an all-day retreat held at the VCUQatar atrium this week.

Each year VCUQatar organizes the Welcome Reception after a week of orientation for the new faculty and staff. This year, 15 new employees arrived on campus for orientation on 17 August. On 18 August, the new employees attended a cultural awareness session with Mohamed Al Mushri, chief commercial officer at Oryx GTL, who speaks about living in an Islamic country and readily shares his knowledge with universities in Qatar. The week-long activities ended on 23 August.

The all-day retreat following the week of orientation began with Dean Vanstone welcoming all 55 faculty and 76 staff to the new academic year. “Today, we begin the 14th academic year for VCU in Qatar. We join together to refocus on our passion for education and to share our commitment to creating an inclusive environment for student success with access to the best resources available in the world today. We continue our ambition to expand and strengthen our research, to deepen our relationship with the Qatar community, and in all of our actions, to lead the development of a sustainable professional creative culture in the region,” said Dean Vanstone during her welcome address. She also introduced guests from VCU Richmond, who were in Qatar for orientation.

The retreat ended with an awards ceremony, recognizing individuals who distinguished themselves over a period of years in service to the school and community. Nine employees were recognized for their five-year service to VCUQatar and three employees were recognized for their 10-year service to the University. Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Pornprapha Phatanateacha, Assistant Professor of English Diane Woodcock and Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Michael Hersrud, were honored with Faculty Distinguished Achievements Awards.

Pornprapha Phatanateacha was the recipient of the Distinguished Achievements in Service Award. Her nomination listed significant contributions to curriculum development; leadership in field study development; dedication to creating VCUQatar’s 10th Anniversary Publication; participation on hiring committees and university committees beyond the call of duty; working with and mentoring students on external design project development while liaising with clients at all hours. Phatanateacha more recently excelled at the immense task of co-creating, planning and executing Tasmeem 2011, Synapse – the designer as link. And, she is currently finishing the design and production of the Tasmeem 2011 publication.

Diana Woodcock won the Distinguished Achievements in Research Award. Woodcock is a prolific researcher with no fewer than 19 poems, and one book of poetry published in 2010 alone! Her chapbook, In the Shade of the Sidra Tree, the third of a trio of chapbooks was published by Finishing Line Press in November 2010. Her first full-length collection, Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders, is to be released by Little Red Tree Publishing later this spring and Woodcock has already begun planning for the research she will conduct for her second full-length poetry collection, Under the Persian Nightingale’s Spell. Swaying on the Elephants Shoulders recently won the 2010 Vernice Quebodeaux International Poetry Prize for Women.

Michael Hersrud won the Distinguished Achievements in Teaching Award. In two years at VCUQatar, Hersrud has made a big impact on his students and the graphic design department. He focuses on creating an environment that helps students become familiar with technology and develops their comfort in navigating technology. This comfort is essential for anyone who will enter a career in Graphic Design. Hersrud has also made a substantial impact in collaborative teaching for Narrative and Interaction courses. This complex content area has been particularly problematic in education and Hersrud, along with his colleagues, has had great successes.

The Faculty Distinguished Achievements Awards recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves over a period of years in service to the school, community, profession, teaching and research. The three were presented with certificates and cash awards at the event.

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