Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) greeted its Class of 2019 at a colourful ceremony for students and parents, held at Qatar Foundation’s HBKU student centre. With the administration and staff in full academic regalia, more than 60 new freshman students were inducted into the university, including the largest number of Qataris to date. This year’s class totals a record 207 undergraduates.

Addressing this year’s freshman class convocation speaker Jonathan Lyons highlighted to Qatar’s budding academics the Middle East’s contribution to knowledge and its impact on Europe and the wider world, and challenged NU-Q’s community to read, reflect and appreciate the notable impact of Arab thought and invention on education itself. From the ancients forward, he commented, scientific thought and philosophy has benefited from Islamic contributions.

Lyons, the author of The House of Wisdom (2008) and Islam Through Western Eyes (2012), spent 20 years as foreign correspondent at Reuters, reporting from conflict zones around the world. He empowered students to ensure no barriers hinder successful learning and ended his remarks with ‘a call to action to free yourself from the prevailing academic and social consensus. To strike out on your own and pursue knowledge wherever it may take you’.

Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q greeted students and began by thanking the national leadership and Qatar Foundation ‘for their foresight to recognise the importance of communication, media and journalism in Qatar’s national development,’ which is NU-Q’s mandate. He argued:

QNV2030 explicitly acknowledges the need for educated citizens and professionals as part of a quest to create a knowledge-based economy for this country and the region.’

Dennis also celebrated the school’s active support in the dynamic growth of media industries in Qatar from satellite TV and traditional news, to the latest digital start-ups, some of which have been nurtured by NU-Q’s alumni. He continued they should be proud to be part of a student body acknowledged internationally for their intelligence, professionalism and great spirit.

The ceremony signalled the start of the academic year and the conclusion of NU-Q’s Wildcat Welcome Week – an orientation programme for incoming students to learn about academic and community expectations, forge friendships and meet the mentors who will serve as critical resources through the next four years.

Najla Al Khulaifi, President of the NU-Q Student Union spoke to her fellow peers commenting:

NU-Q is an extraordinary, rich and diverse community with enormous opportunities – academic, extracurricular, athletic and social. It’s time to step outside of your comfort zone, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and prepare to challenge yourself. (For freshmen) to look at the world through a new lens and be ready broaden your horizons by embracing this new academic experience.’

NU-Q is committed to excellent teaching, innovative research and the personal intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community. Students receive instruction from a world-class international faculty across three major programmes: journalism, communication and liberal arts. This year’s class of 2019 represent the diverse community in Qatar, hailing from 19 different countries across the globe.

Founded over 150 years ago, Northwestern University is an esteemed institution that has more than 200,000 alumni worldwide.  In particular, NU-Q graduates have found success at major institutions such as: Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Qatar Media Corporation, Amiri Diwan, Doha Film Institute, Qatar Museums, Hamad Hospital, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (Qatar World Cup 2022), Qatar Airways, Qatar Foundation, Ras Gas and Total Energy and Petroleum.