DOHA, Qatar --- The opening of an "important chapter" in the history of Northwestern University began today (March 23) when officials from the University and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Research, and Community Development formally marked the opening of Northwestern's campus in Doha.
Northwestern began offering degree programs in communication and journalism last August in Education City, an area of Doha that has campuses for five other American universities.
"We are pleased to have welcomed an exceptionally bright and dedicated group of students from Qatar, as well as other nations in the Middle East and around the world," said Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen at the official opening ceremony held in Doha Monday. "We are honored to be part of Qatar's commitment to progressive social change and excited about this momentous new chapter in Northwestern's history."
Thirty-eight first-year students are enrolled at Northwestern University in Qatar. The journalism program, with concentrations including print, broadcast and multimedia, leads to a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree awarded by Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. The communication program, with curricular offerings in the areas of communication theory, history, and industries and media technologies and practices, leads to a Bachelor of Science in Communication degree with a major in Media Industries and Technologies, awarded by Northwestern's School of Communication.
The establishment of Northwestern's programs has been guided by the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned and supported by the Qatar Foundation, whose board she chairs.
"Tonight we celebrate not only the birth of Northwestern's new campus in Education City, but also the extraordinary generosity and vision of Her Highness and the Qatar Foundation, which have brought us to this happy occasion," said President Bienen.
The ceremony in Doha, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation, included remarks from President Bienen; William Osborn, chair-elect of the Northwestern Board of Trustees; Deans John Lavine and Barbara O'Keefe of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and School of Communication; and John Margolis, Dean of Northwestern University in Qatar. Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, vice president for education of the Qatar Foundation, spoke on behalf of the Foundation.
In addition to various faculty members and administrators from the Evanston campus and members of the Board of Trustees, Deborah Cundiff, Chair of the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council, and Neal Sales-Griffin, President of Associated Student Government, traveled to Doha for the ceremony. Laurie Zoloth, Chair of the General Faculty Committee, visited the Doha campus last week and met with faculty there.
When the agreement to establish the Doha campus was announced, Dr. Al-Thani said, "I am particularly excited by the addition of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and its School of Communication because I believe they will promote a maturing of our society into one where everyone can have a voice and everyone is accountable. A vibrant, healthy media scene will bring about greater transparency and accountability, and these are hallmarks of successful, participative societies. These qualities are essential to the implementation of Her Highness' vision of releasing and developing human potential for the common good."
The ceremony marking the inauguration of the Doha campus included performances by music and theater students from Northwestern's Evanston campus, videos highlighting the work of the School of Communication and the Medill School of Journalism, and videos of students from Northwestern's Qatar campus.
Commenting on his November meetings with students in Doha, William Osborn said, "Our first class here is very bright, engaged and eager to take advantage of all that we have to offer. It is gratifying to connect with the remarkable young people who have enrolled in our programs and who are at the very center of our enterprise."
Northwestern has joined campuses from Carnegie-Mellon University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Texas A&M University and Virginia Commonwealth University in the rapidly developing Education City, a community of American institutions located on a 2,500-acre campus in Doha. Applications for next fall's entering class are running 50 percent higher than for the first class.
Northwestern's programs are temporarily located in a Texas A&M building and will move to the Carnegie-Mellon building next fall while construction begins on a new building for Northwestern on the Education City campus. The new building, designed by the renowned architect Antoine Predock, will provide space for both the journalism and communication programs, including four production studios, classrooms, faculty offices and other facilities. The new facility is expected to open in 2013.
President Bienen said, "This August I will step down as Northwestern's president. I unquestionably regard Northwestern University in Qatar as one of the most important legacies of my presidency. I hope there will be an opportunity three years from now to return to Education City for another important milestone in the history of Northwestern -- the graduation of NU-Q's inaugural Class of 2012.