Dr Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, recently visited Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), the university’s campus in Education City.
He met with faculty, students and staff, including members of the Student Government Association, at a special luncheon.
Also present were his wife Monica Rao, VCUarts Qatar dean Amir Berbic and his wife D?ena Berbic.
Afterwards, Dr Rao attended an alumni reception and dinner at Education City Golf Club.
VCU has more 190,000 alumni worldwide, with VCUarts Qatar’s alumni numbering more than 750 and representing 50 nationalities.
Dr Rao encouraged the alumni to make a difference by being leaders, while reminding them of their importance to the history and the future of the university, adding that the work they were doing in the community was “fulfilling the vision of VCU”.
He also reminded them of the importance of service to others in their lives. “When you are 90, it will matter more what you did for others, how you touched them, than anything else. Every one of us has great potential to make a difference,” he said.
Introducing dean Berbic, who joined VCUarts Qatar in August, Dr Rao explained that the university was very particular in its search for candidates for the position of dean, recognising that it was important to find someone who could tap into the powerful energy of the country and take it to the next level.
Berbic highlighted the role that VCUarts Qatar is playing as a catalyst in art and design in Qatar and the region by supporting cultural and artistic development.
Noting that there are more than 750 alumni, he reminded the attendees that as the number of alumni grows, the country “will see and feel the impact that you, the alumni, as a force will have on Qatar as an emerging creative nation.”
Berbic urged the alumni to stay in touch with VCUarts Qatar, “so that we can be part of your story, and you can be part of ours.”
He highlighted Tasmeem Doha, the university’s biennial international art and design conference, as an example.
The conference, which was led by four alumni — Noha Fouad, Wajiha Pervez, Hadeer Omar, and Yasmeen Sulieman — focused on the theme of Hekayat (storytelling), was full of insightful conversations, descriptive journeys, inspiring presentations and music.
The co-chairs also took Tasmeem Doha on the road, taking part in design conferences in London and Amman in September and October.
Berbic also mentioned alumnus Othman Khunji, who was among the winners of the VCU Alumni 10 under 10 awards.
The honour recognises the noteworthy accomplishments made by VCU alumni who earned their degree in the past 10 years.
The alumni are recognised for their service to the university, service to VCU alumni, remarkable professional success and outstanding contributions to the community. As part of the event, the new Alumni Council was also introduced.
The council consists of nine VCUarts Qatar graduates, ranging from the most recent class of 2019 all the way back to the first MFA in Design class.
The Alumni Council’s purpose is to be the voice of the alumni, and to organise any services or events they deem necessary for their growth and development. The council also maintains the connections and strengthens the ties between the alumni and the university.
One can find out more about VCUarts Qatar at qatar.vcu.edu