Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar welcomed 71 new full time Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts students to the Education City campus.

This fall semester, VCUQatar welcomes the third group of students into the new BA programme in art history. This is the first non-studio degree offered by the branch campus and is intended to support the development of the cultural infrastructure in Qatar. The incoming BFA and BA classes of 2018 represent a truly diverse student body with nearly 60 percent Qatari students and the remaining international students from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, Hungary, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Admission to VCUQatar is competitive. A committee comprised of faculty and staff review the applications with no identifying information about the applicant. Decisions are based on a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s academic achievements to date, their artistic creativity and experimentation as evidenced by the work they present in their individual portfolios (BFA and MFA), letters of recommendation, writing skills and English language proficiency. The incoming class represents highly qualified students who are poised to succeed in the fields of art and design.

VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone welcomed the incoming undergraduate class during their orientation:

Being accepted to this prestigious university is the first step in your academic journey. Take full advantage of every opportunity during your years at university both within and outside the classroom. The people in this room are your colleagues, today and onward into your careers. Be curious, collaborate, experiment and find your passion. University is a diverse learning environment where you will be supported and expected to find your critical voice and share your creative expressions. Welcome to VCUQatar!’

The welcome address marked the opening of an exciting week of orientation activities, which included an introduction to all aspects of the university, college transition programmes, an intercultural workshop to help prepare students for the diverse cultural experiences that will be part of their education, ice-breakers and community building activities to help build positive learning/living environments. Students also participated in additional Hamad Bin Khalifa University sponsored events.

VCUQatar also welcomed the sixth class of the MFA in Design, the first graduate programme in design in the gulf region.

Dr Thomas Modeen, interim director of the programme, said:

The Graduate Department is delighted to welcome its latest contingent of talented and dedicated MFA students into the programme. This highly select international group of individuals, from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, will, in conjunction with our current student body, continue to foster the unique mix of ingenuity and enterprise that our multifaceted community of students and faculty alike contribute to the ever-evolving research and practice of interdisciplinary design, producing independent thinkers and makers whose creative acuities and vigour will continue to define and contribute to the development and definition of what a prosperous and dynamic Qatar could and should entail.’

The Incoming Class brings the student population at VCUQatar to 282: 270 undergraduate (Foundation, Fashion, Graphic and Interior Design, Painting & Printmaking and Art History) and 12 graduate students – representing 40 nationalities. VCUQatar is also hosting six students from our home campus in Richmond, Virginia for the semester.

Following student orientation week, VCUQatar welcomed all new and returning faculty and staff with an all-day retreat. The retreat included a half-day collaborative workshop and the annual awards ceremony, recognising individuals who distinguished themselves over a period of years in service to the school and community, and the Faculty Distinguished Achievements Awards. Simone Muscolino, Interim Director of Foundation was honoured with the Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award; Zachary Stensen, Assistant Professor of Painting & Printmaking received the Distinguished Achievement in Service Award and Dr. Khaled Saoud, Assistant Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Department received the Distinguished Achievement in Research Award.

As VCUQatar enters its 17th year, the university strives to contribute to the vitality of human, social, economic and environmental development in Qatar and the region through creative innovation, expression and collaboration. The university’s alumni are leaders in Qatar’s cultural and creative professions, as well as participants in addressing the global challenges identified as key to the region’s future. The VCUQatar community continues to be engaged in reflecting on its past and planning its next five years with a focus on actively supporting the development of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Qatar National Vision 2030.