VCUQatar: Grooming future artists and designers

 12 Mar 2016 - 15:50

VCUQatar: Grooming future artists and designers


Since its establishment VCUQatar has substantial involvement with the emerging design industries in Qatar and is a significant catalyst for that growth. The university has established itself as a centre of excellence for education and research in art and design.

By Fazeena Saleem
VCUQatar, the first campus opened in the Education City has completed a new comprehensive strategic planning process to closely align the   goals with the Qatar National Vision 2030, the Qatar Foundation Strategic Plan and Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
The campus has also set six goals to reach including cultivating understanding about the potential and value of art and design in Qatar and the region, attracting, developing and supporting self-directed lifelong learners and creative innovators and contextualising learning and research to the needs of Qatar and the region.
It will also seek to  contextualise learning and research to the needs of Qatar and the region, engage in collaborative inquiry and innovation that transcend disciplinary boundaries in education and research and enhance operational systems to support excellence, sustainability and work/life balance at VCUQatar.
“VCUQatar will continue to emphasise and give opportunity for interdisciplinary learning and will harness talents from the diverse but complementary disciplines of all of our degree programs; to promote both abstract and practical activities for student interns in academic programs such as the MFA Program and in our Community Education Program,” said Akel I Kahera, PhD,  VCUQatar’s new dean.
“VCUQatar will continue to foster our academic reputation as a centre of regional excellence, relevant public service, and highly regarded faculty and staff; we will continue to seek and cultivate areas where teaching, research, and service overlap; and will increase appreciation for VCU School of the Arts distinctiveness,” he added.

VCUQatar is the Qatar campus of the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Established in 1998, it offers  students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design, graphic design, interior design and painting and  printmaking, a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in design.
The campus is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and  Design, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The current student body represents a diverse range of nationalities with students coming from 38 different nationalities.
Undergraduate annual tuition at VCUQatar is $23,274 and graduate annual tuition is $20,378.
Since its establishment VCUQatar has substantial involvement with the emerging design industries in Qatar and is a significant catalyst for that growth. The university has established itself as a centre of excellence for education and research in art and design.
Among its several outstanding  features, VCUQatar is the campus with the highest ratio of Qatari students and alumni compared to other campuses within the Education City.
At present VCUQatar has a total 323 students with  298 in undergraduate programs  and 14 graduate students. They include  60 percent  are Qataris and the rest include  38 nationalities. Among the students 98 percent are females.
Among the 508 alumni, 314 are Qataris and 194 are non-Qataris.
VCUQatar graduates are pursuing successful careers within the government, nonprofit and private industries in Qatar and around the world. Many are leaders in Qatar’s cultural and creative professions, or have gone on to establish their own businesses, thereby contributing to the development of the small and medium enterprise culture in Qatar.

Maryam Al Homaid is one of such successful graduates. She  received her BFA in Graphic Design and her MFA in Design from VCUQatar in 2010 and 2014, respectively. In 2014, she was the first alumna to participate in VCUQatar’s pilot Qatari Junior Faculty Development Program. This program was created to expose exceptional VCUQatar graduates of Qatari nationality to the field of teaching, by providing mentorship and classroom experience that will allow them one day compete for positions at world-class research institutions. Maryam is now in her second year as VCUQatar’s  first junior faculty member.
The VCUQatar also  has contributed outstanding academic staff to Qatar. In January 2015, Dr KhaledSaoud, a assistant professor of physics in the Liberal Arts & Sciences Program at VCUQatar was named a winner of Challenge 22, an innovation award sponsored by the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy with the support of Qatar Foundation.
Dr  Saoud’s entry presented a new thermal insulation material — an amalgam of polystyrene and aerogel — that may have the potential to lower energy consumption and enhance the safety and comfort of buildings. Now being incubated at Qatar Science and  Technology Park, the next phase of development focuses on the creation of a prototype to prove the material’s effectiveness. The eventual aim is to incorporate its use into Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia and in sustainable construction throughout the country in general.

Speaking about taking the successes of VCUQatar to the future Dean  Kahera said: “I see future opportunities for growth and development in all of our programs and our faculty development, particularly the fostering of new lines of collaboration with our colleagues at the School of the Arts at our VCU Richmond campus. Working with units at Richmond (Division of Community Engagement; Center for Creative Economy; VCU da Vinci Center; Grace Harris Leadership institute and The Institute for Inclusion and Innovation, among others) we have an opportunity to enhance academic research and public service — especially in outreach activities, which focus on new learning technologies as a strategic emphasis area. This can only lead to the enhancement of our reputation by publicizing both national and international accomplishments of faculty, staff, and students.”
Beside its undergraduate, graduate programs VCUQatar is also engaged with the community in a wide variety of ways. The  community class programs reach deep into the Doha community, providing instruction to a student population comprised of K-12 children, adults, and English and Arabic learners.
The Community Education Program at VCUQatar offers a wide range of art, design and craft courses to adults and children three times a year (fall, spring and late spring). While most classes are taught in English, we also offer a selection of courses in Arabic.
In addition, VCUQatar offers in depth portfolio development courses each fall. The portfolio development courses are an important step towards art and design college admission. They provide high school students the opportunity to strengthen their portfolios and further develop basic art and design skills.
The popular summer youth program targets children of all ages and offers students the opportunity to explore a range of materials and techniques as they develop an appreciation for art and design. On average the campus  enrol about 1200 participants annually in all community programs combined.

The Peninsula