Marcel Winatschek's Tokyopunk


23/06/2015

Dear colleagues, dear students

It is a privilege and an honor to address you for the first time as the sixth president of Qatar University, and I extend sincere thanks for your many congratulatory messages.  I am honored and touched by your welcome and I look forward to working with all of you to continue to advance QU’s goals and values towards realizing our shared mission and vision and upholding the aspirations of Qatar for its national university.

I am honored to join you as both a leader and an active team member, in our collective and synergetic efforts to carry on the legacy of the visionary and talented leaders who have shaped the organization into what it is today. I extend my sincerest appreciation to Prof Sheikha Al-Misnad for her dedication and commitment to moving the university forward locally, regionally and globally, and to all of you for your support, energy and commitment to QU and by extension, to the wider Qatari community.

I see my presidency as an opportunity to build on the great successes achieved since the 2005 reforms as well as a chance to continue to address the issues that inevitably emerged from them.  Change is never a straightforward process and is often met with resistance, not only because it is difficult but also because inevitably, problems arise from it that are new and unexpected and that need to be addressed.  Yet, change is the only thing that has ever brought progress. Those of us who witnessed developments at QU throughout the past decade will especially appreciate the magnitude of the changes that occurred and understand that along with the many positive outcomes are challenges that need further attention.

With the institution-wide strategic plan and our respective unit plans and goals as a consistent guide, as we move forward, I believe we should draw focus on 5 key themes:

Firstly, the student is always at the center of our attention. It is incumbent on us to provide a learning environment and an academic life that empowers them with the skills, knowledge and personal qualities that will enable them to face life’s challenges and form a solid basis from which to grow into the next phase of their lives as engaged and productive members of the society. We should strive to ensure that all students have an enriching and inspiring experience through which they feel proud of belonging to Qatar University.

Secondly, community engagement and partnership is a key driver of change.  The success of our progress lies with the organization being in-tune with society’s needs and aspirations.  Our decisions and future direction should be based on a thorough understanding of societal needs, expectations, and attitudes, employing concerted efforts to marry the best interest of Qatar, its labor market and its vision and development strategies on the one hand, with the expectations of students, parents and the community on the other. As always, decisions will be well-informed and where possible based on research. It is important that we avoid the pitfall of being out of touch with the community we serve and that we continue to strengthen our long-standing bond with its members, the public and private sector, and civil society through a wide range of  public engagement forums.

Thirdly, I re-emphasize the importance of continuing to build an institutional culture. Governance structures, decision-making mechanisms, continuous assessment and improvement processes and other aspects of university life are vital tools that serve to embed values and modes of operation within a systematic and structured way of doing things, based on clear, well-thought and transparent policies and procedures.

Fourthly, all of our programs have accomplished significant progress and are highly competitive in the quality they offer. Engineering disciplines stand out as well as applied and management sciences. Health related disciplines are already on their way towards exponential growth and distinction notably with the recent establishment of the College of Medicine. At the same time, I believe there is a need and an opportunity for increased focus on developing the humanities, social sciences and sharia and Islamic studies at QU. These disciplines have high potential for becoming areas of distinction and need to be advanced from the more traditional approaches that result in limitations in the way they are taught and learned.  We will look into ways of achieving a niche in several of these programs so that the competencies of our graduates are internationally-recognized, that we fulfill labor market needs, and that we continue in line with our mandate to preserve and advance our Arabic and Islamic identity and values.

Lastly, Qatarization, Arabization, and international recognition continue to be top priorities at QU. They will be addressed in a way that ensures that our approaches are sensitive to our specific context and do not compromise the interest of our students, the quality of our programs, the local and regional competitiveness of our graduates and most importantly, our alignment with national needs and priorities.

In closing, I wish you all a wonderful summer ahead and look forward to being in touch with you once again in September through this newsletter, the Annual Convocation and the many other opportunities our campus affords for us to interact and engage with each other.

“By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” Surat Al-`Aşr