No Negatives’ For Establishing Qatar Campus

Emily Glazer

By Emily GlazerThe Daily Northwestern

If a contract for a journalism and communication school in Qatar is finalized, Northwestern will join five other American universities that were selected and fully funded by the Qatar Foundation.

One of NU’s competitors for the school was Boston University, which proposed a journalism and liberal arts institution, the university’s student newspaper reported. The universities of Florida and Missouri were also contenders for such a school in Education City, a complex of U.S. campuses in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The five American universities currently there are Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth universities. All five are fully funded by the Qatar Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

NU President Henry Bienen said NU’s pending contract is similar to the contracts at other schools.

“Whatever costs the university will incur will be reimbursed-plus,” he said. “There’s no negatives for the university financially. There are only positives financially.”

Cornell revealed it signed an 11-year contract with the foundation for $750 million to fund a medical school of about 132 students.

NU’s proposed 40-student journalism and communication school will not be as expensive, Bienen said.

In addition to being fully funded by the Qatar Foundation, Cornell, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon said they also received “undisclosed” gifts.

But Bienen said the nature of a gift means it wasn’t in NU’s pending contract with the foundation. If NU does receive a gift, Bienen said it will remain private, as the foundation has specified with other universities.

Although NU has not yet signed a contract, Bienen said he did not foresee any major problems.

“I don’t think there’s any disagreement among any of us,” he said. “There’s just nothing I would call concrete enough on the things which are really essential to get done.”

The American universities currently in Qatar said they are successful and thriving.

Virginia Commonwealth University first opened its School of the Arts campus in 1998.

Christina Lindholm, dean of the Qatari campus, said the university was invited to open the school by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah.

The school’s sixth class will graduate in May, and 85 percent of the alumni have found jobs, Lindholm wrote in an e-mail from Qatar.

“Since the existing design industry in Qatar is so small, and the demand (for designers is) so great, the graduates are finding challenging and rewarding positions,” she said.

Lindholm said Virginia Commonwealth signed a 10-year contract in 2002 with the Qatar Foundation.

Texas A&M opened an engineering school in Education City in 2003. Although officials declined to comment on the financial details of the contract, the university’s student newspaper reported that Texas A&M signed a “10-year multimillion-dollar contract that covers faculty pay, housing and a management fee for the university.”

Pamela Green, director of communications for Texas A&M’s engineering school, said the Education City campus is “really cool” because a lot of the traditions from the U.S. are followed in Qatar.

Green said she thought it was interesting to see students in Qatar adopting traditions used on the Texas campus. Students in both Texas and Qatar are called Aggies, the official student body nickname, she said.

Carnegie Mellon opened a computer science and business administration school with 40 students in 2004, said Indira Nair, vice provost for education at Carnegie Mellon. She said they have students from about 17 countries.

Although the school is across the world from Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus, Nair said it tries to “reproduce as much of our characteristic education and student life as possible.”

Similarly, Georgetown tries to offer its students in Doha a similar experience to the school in Washington, D.C., said Robert Gallucci, dean of the school of foreign service.

“We have comparable admissions standards, comparable grading standards,” he said. “It is not 100 percent (the same) but we try to keep the Georgetown identity and we can offer a slice of our curriculum.”

Gallucci said Georgetown is excited about being in Doha.

“You have an opportunity to impact the way people in that region are educated,” he said. “I think it’s important (to be in Doha), and we welcome Northwestern if Northwestern decides to come.”

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