14 August 2017

Dean Akel’s Welcome Message

Dear students, incoming class of 2021, faculty and staff,  Each year we seek to celebrate and unify our community by selecting a theme, and this year we are focusing on “Making Excellence a Habit.”  

Together we can achieve a community of creativity and scholarship, and have achieved a common purpose defined by our mission and vision. In doing so, we have remained dedicated to the proposition that VCUarts Qatar is creative, critical, dynamic, curious and original. We remain committed to demonstrating the importance of art and design in this region, and beyond. We have been steadfast in our goals to empower our students to become leading artists and designers who will preserve culture while creating the innovation that will drive Qatar towards its goals.

We have much to be proud of, from our significant research contributions, and our alumni success stories, to an increased emphasis on strategic engagement. Our achievements resonate along the themes of holistic Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, and Math education (STREAM), which positions us to be more relevant than traditional STEM education. There is no lack of evidence about the importance of STREAM in developing capital assets, capable leaders, and maintaining and transmitting culture. An example is Nesma Khodier, a 2016 graduate of the interdisciplinary MFA in Design program. Her thesis project “Oud/Kanun” artfully built on her prior educational background to blend the understanding and respect for traditional Arabic music with a series of carefully crafted digital technologies, to produce a novel device designed to make complex traditional music more accessible, intuitive, and widely appreciated. Khodier’s work investigated behaviors and functions to analyze the relation between music, art, design and engineering and produce a product that can be reproduced and sold. The outcome is the Kanud, an instrument for new music that pays homage to tradition while creating a distinctive path to the future.

As VCUarts Qatar faculty and staff, we must also act as instruments that help our students find a harmony between their heritage and their future. It is our duty to remain forward thinking in our approach to forging connections with students. They are indeed our treasured investments, and their voices must be heard and appreciated. As educators, we should not just give students the tools they need to succeed, but encourage them to forge new tools in order to build something new and extraordinary.

I offer much gratitude and applaud the ‘Making Excellence’ a Habit ethos as we continue to forge ahead in our commitment to distinction in education.

Thank you for being good stewards of VCUarts Qatar, for uncovering new ways to advance our mission, for your care and skill in educating our students and for the impact you create locally, regionally and internationally. 

Dr. Akel I. Kahera
Dean, VCUarts Qatar

Nesma Khodier, a 2016 graduate of the interdisciplinary MFA in Design program.

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