(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha, Qatar:“First batch graduates tomorrow,” reads a headline in a local newspaper in 2002.
The short feature referred to the first cohort of 21 students to graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), set up in 1998 through a partnership between Qatar Foundation (QF) and Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, US.
More than two decades – and 1,000 graduates – later, QF's first partner university, and the nation's only institute for higher education devoted to fine art, design and art history, celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The gala event, held at the Al Mayassa Theatre in Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) on September 26, 2023, was attended by H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation.
In a message shared prior to the event, H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani said:“This event marks the culmination of a 25 year story - a journey that has unfolded with grace, nurturing talent and creativity. As we celebrate this milestone, I am proud to witness the countless stories of the alumni and emerging talents that have been born from this journey.
“Through its dedication, the VCUarts Qatar community has consistently carved an enduring legacy onto the world's artistic landscape. Today, we come together not only to celebrate our achievements, but also to look ahead with anticipation and excitement as we continue to inspire and ignite the creative spirits of generations to come.”
The distinguished gathering included dignitaries from various ministries, senior leadership from Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums, government and private organizations, ambassadors and diplomats from various embassies and missions, media representatives and renowned artists and designers from Qatar and abroad.
Past and present leadership, faculty and staff from VCUarts Qatar, VCU, and VCU's School of the Arts in Richmond – some of whom were part of the first group of people who helped set up the University in 1998 – were also in attendance.
Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU; Dr. Carmenita Higginbotham, Dean, VCU School of the Arts, and Dr. Fotis Sotiropoulos, Provost and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs, VCU, were among those who travelled from the home campus in Richmond, for the celebration.
The event opened with a short film titled“Imagination and Impact – VCUarts Qatar at 25,” following which Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar, welcomed the gathering and delivered the opening remarks.
He said:“VCUarts Qatar is a remarkable community that has been inspiring artists, designers and scholars in Qatar and beyond since 1998. We have, over these years, been committed to staying at the forefront of art and design education by engaging in new conversations and initiating new collaborations, in Qatar and across the globe.”
Dr. Rao also addressed the audience.“We are grateful for H H Sheikha Moza's extraordinary vision and drive to create a knowledge-based society here in Qatar, and her work to make that vision a reality. It is an honour for VCU to be a part of achieving and accomplishing that vision for the past 25 years.”
Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education at Qatar Foundation, also delivered a congratulatory message on behalf of Qatar Foundation leadership.
The event also featured a discussion titled,“In Conversation with the Deans” between Dean Berbić and Dean Higginbotham. Dimitri Yuri, a Director at The Film House, and a Class of 2018 alumnus moderated the conversation.
The function drew to a close with the screening of a film directed by Dimitri Yuri and created in collaboration with the University's alumni.
The two-minute video, with a forward-looking script brought to life by the University's alumni and students, proved to be a fitting finale that bridged the past 25 years of VCUarts Qatar, with the next.
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