Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar hosted a gala dinner at the Diplomatic Club to celebrate its 10 Years of Excellence in Design Education. The gala guests included the VCUQatar faculty, staff, alumna and very special VIP guests from Qatar and the United States. The gala showcased for the first time to an invitation only audience Alumni Moments videos, a Promotional Video and portions of the 30 minute commemorative PBS documentary produced by VCUTV over the course of the last nine months.
Dean Allyson Vanstone welcomed the audience and introduced the special guests. She was wearing a distinctive one of a kind gown designed by Fashion Design graduate Noor Jassim Al Thani ('05). "We are very proud of the contributions of our graduates. Their success is our success and they are the true pioneers who are leading the way in establishing Qatar as the design center of the Middle East. Tonight we celebrate the achievements of our students, graduates, faculty and staff. It is their contributions and diligence throughout the years that have made VCUQatar synonymous with regional design leadership. I am very proud to be here to represent VCUQatar tonight and to thank all of our supporters and friends for their contributions to a decade of success."
Thomas Rosenthal, VCU Rector, Congratulated the Emir and Her Highness on their vision from 1997 when the concept of Education City was just beginning. "It is with great pride that I represent VCU on this momentous occasion and, on behalf of VCU, I would like to congratulate His Highness, the Emir, and Her Highness on their vision and confidence in taking such a bold - and, now, so obviously brilliant - actions on behalf of Qatari citizens and the world."
Dr. Abdulla Al-Thani Vice President of Education at the Qatar Foundation expressed his sentiments, "Qatar Foundation is proud of what we have achieved together. I believe that ten years after the establishment of the first US design university in the Middle East we have cause for satisfaction and reason to be excited about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead."
US Ambassador to Qatar, Joseph Evan LeBaron congratulated the Emir and Her Highness on the dedication they have shown to the citizen's of Qatar. He stated, "The investments being made by Qatar's leaders and universities in Education City will yield dividends for generations to come. VCUQatar can be proud of the role it is playing brightening the future of the young men and women of this region." He acknowledged the US Congressional Delegation of Congressman Howard McKeon (CA), Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (HI), Congressman Ric Keller (FL), Congressman Silvestre Reyes (TX), Congresswoman Graciela Napolitano (CA) and Congressman Ed Pastor (AZ), lead by Congressman Ruben Hinojosa of Texas as a "demonstration of the importance that the United States Government attaches to the educational partnership between our two peoples, a partnership pioneered by VCU, the first American institution to open a campus in Qatar."
The Qatar Foundation was represented by Dr. Saif Al Hajari, Vice Chairman and Dr. Abdullah Al Thani, Vice President for Education. Three alumna represented the three disciplines of VCUQatar. Dana Ahdab, Graphic Design ('04), Amal Al-Mutawa Fashion Design ('02) and Amal Ameen, Interior Design ('04) spoke about their relationship with VCUQatar and the experiences they have gained since graduation. Dana reminisced about not wanting to go too far from VCUQatar, "when I receive so much care, genuine support and wonderful growth opportunities [from VCUQatar ] why would anyone want to leave." Amal Mutawa spoke about when she heard about ,"QF promoting the Shaqab College of Design Arts, which was a dream of [her] life so she was among the first to register." Amal went on to state that when she is asked the question "Did you study abroad?" she "proudly replies: "No I studied in Qatar at Virginia Commonwealth University"
During the event a special publication for the 10 year anniversary entitled "Leaving a Mark" was revealed and copies were provided to attendees of the event. Student Saher Mari presented the book and spoke about the Publication Design class's role in producing the 10th anniversary publication. She stated, "the aim of this publication is to honor the 10th anniversary of VCUQatar's performance as well as to honor the success and progress the institution has made." Special guests in the audience also received a commemorative keepsake Swarovski crystal Sheilas with the unique VCUQatar building designs.
Mr. Abdullatif Al-Noaimi, Deputy CEO Administration of Qatar Diar spoke about the contribution of Virginia Commonwealth University and the role its graduates are playing in making Qatar a country with its eye on the future. "At Qatari Diar we are privileged to employ a number of highly skilled graduates of VCU as some of our most important design specialists. Their broad skills, solid competencies and international perspectives have enabled the company to establish itself very quickly and to move rapidly from domestic to large-scale international projects."
Dr. Richard Toscan, Virginia Commonwealth University's Vice Provost for International Affairs gave the concluding remarks which were followed by a very special performance by the VCU Jazz Quintet. Students Jon Gibson (saxophone), Karl Morse (guitar), David Ashby (bass) under the leadership of VCU's Director of Jazz Studies, Professor Antonio Garcia entertained the audience during dinner.