Dean of School of Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts

Posting Details

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Position Information

Position Number FA8080
Position Type Teaching and Research Faculty
Rank Open
Working Title Dean, VCUarts Qatar
School/Unit School of the Arts
Department Qatar Campus
Number of Months 12
Tenure Status Open
Grant funded position? No
Position Summary and Qualifications

Mission or Goal of Unit

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts ("VCUarts") seeks a deeply experienced, imaginative and dynamic leader, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, to serve as the Dean of the VCUarts Qatar campus in Doha, Qatar.

VCUarts Qatar: An Overview


     VCUarts Qatar is the Qatar campus of the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Located in Doha, the capital city of Qatar, in Doha's "Education City," VCUarts Qatar is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.


     The Doha Education City concept was initiated in approximately 1996, when a worldwide search began for universities that were regarded as the top institutions in their respective fields with a view that, with their participation, a prestigious educational center could be created in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar. In 1997, being the top ranked public university school of arts and design in the United States, VCU School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia was contacted to determine its interest in offering some of the same programs that were being offered on its Richmond campus to students in Doha, Qatar.


     Pursuant to a negotiated agreement between the Qatar Foundation and VCU, the Shaqab College of Design Arts, operated by VCU, opened its doors in fall of 1998 to a class of 33 female students enrolled in the equivalent of the VCU Art Foundation Program. The school began to offer sophomore level courses in graphic design, interior design and fashion design in 1999. With the approval of the state legislature in Virginia, USA, the VCU Qatar branch campus replaced the Shaqab College of Design Arts in 2002. VCUarts Qatar transitioned from an all-female student body to a co-ed body in Fall 2007. Now, VCUarts Qatar enrolls approximately 328 undergraduate and 14 graduate students, who can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design, graphic design, interior design and painting & printmaking, a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history or a Master of Fine Arts degree in design.


     VCUarts Qatar employs 75 diverse and international full-time faculty and administrators. Full-time staff (locally recruited professionals) currently total 48. In addition, adjunct faculty and hourly staff are recruited locally to support teaching and administrative operations.


     VCUarts Qatar was the inaugural campus in Education City, which now is host to five other branch campuses of prestigious American universities – Texas A&M University at Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Qatar- plus HEC Paris and University College London. Each university operating branch campuses in Education City is charged by the Qatar Foundation with ensuring that the programs and offerings of the respective branch campuses are of the same quality and are subject to the same standards as are in effect on the university's home campuses. This mandate requires the utmost level of cooperation and coordination with the respective institutions' home campuses, and, in the case of VCUarts Qatar, requires such cooperation and coordination with office of the Dean, VCUarts in Richmond and the Dean, VCUarts' Leadership Team.


     In 2010, VCUarts Qatar more than doubled its facilities through a major building expansion project. The expansion allowed for the integration of the university's undergraduate and graduate programs under one roof, the connection of the research and entrepreneurship offices with curricular programs, the expansion of technical spaces to support all forms of visualization and research with a media lab, digital fabrication lab, printmaking studios, photography studio, an expanded library and the first materials library in the region.


     Through its programs, research projects and community activities, VCUarts Qatar supports the vision of a Qatari society that innovates through art and design. VCUarts Qatar hosts the biennial international design conference, "Tasmeem Doha," and the biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Islamic Art Symposium, attracting globally recognized designers, artists and academics while fostering sustainable, university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of Qatar.


     VCUarts Qatar has pursued substantial involvement with the emerging design industries in Qatar and has been a significant catalyst for that growth. VCUarts Qatar has established itself as a center of excellence for education and research in art and design and VCUarts Qatar's graduates are pursuing successful careers within the government, nonprofit and private industries in Qatar and around the world.


     VCUarts Qatar operates under a ten-year operational agreement between Virginia Commonwealth University and the Qatar Foundation, which provides funding for the programs, faculty, staff and facilities for the school. The initial ten-year agreement was renewed for a second ten-year period in 2012, As such, VCUarts Qatar benefits from a funding situation that allows it to be driven by innovative programmatic needs rather than typical institutional fiscal constraints. Qatar Foundation takes an active and highly informed interest in the activities of each institution within Education City. The financial support that the Foundation has provided for VCUarts Qatar is, by all measures, extraordinary. However, financial resources are not without limits and expenditures are carefully monitored. Each institution has been assured of academic autonomy, while maintaining a consultative relationship with the Qatar Foundation.


VCUarts Qatar strives to contribute to the vitality of human, social, economic and environmental development in Qatar and the region through creative innovation, expression and collaboration.


VCUarts Qatar cultivates a dynamic intercultural environment of diverse research, learning and community engagement that propels the holistic development of exemplary artists, designers and scholars to build vibrant communities and diversified economies.


VCUarts Qatar values collaboration, experimentation, innovation, relevancy and diversity.


VCUarts Qatar is creative, critical, dynamic, curious and original.

For specific information on VCUarts Qatar programs visit

Overview of Virginia Commonwealth University:


     Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is one of the Commonwealth's largest universities and ranks among the top universities in the country. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VA, USA, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in over 200 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences, humanities and health sciences. Fifty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU's 11 schools and three colleges. In 2009, President Michael Rao was selected to become the fifth president of the University.


     Virginia Commonwealth University is rooted in a rich history dating to the 1838 founding of the Medical College of Virginia ("MCV"), which now comprises one of VCU's two downtown Richmond campuses. The Monroe Park Campus began as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health in 1917, and later became known as Richmond Professional Institute ("RPI"). Merging in 1968, the two institutions, MCV and RPI, became Virginia Commonwealth University, the most comprehensive urban university in the state and one of the most successful research universities in the nation.


     VCU Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation's leading academic medical centers.
As an urban institution of higher learning, VCU and its partners have contributed immeasurably to the development of the fabric of the city of Richmond, transforming it into a center of artistic and cultural growth, business development and social services. In consequence, the city and its leadership in business, industry and cultural affairs have given extraordinary support to the University's growth, complementing the support of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is a diverse cultural city, surrounded by historic neighborhoods, parks and the scenic James River.


     Virginia Commonwealth University is operating under its eight-year strategic plan – Quest 2025. The plan guides the university forward in the areas of: academic quality and student success; pre-eminence in research, scholarship, creative expression and clinical practice; commitment to human health; and national model for community engagement and regional impact. Central to the plan is innovation and carefully monitored metrics provide the dashboard that graphically depicts the University's national impact.

Overview of VCUarts:


     The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees in design, art history, art education and fine and performing arts, with a unique emphasis on creative immersion. Far more than receiving simply an education or preparation for a career; students leave VCU with the practical, professional and personal skills needed to make a life in the arts, no matter how they define it. That's why VCUarts' programs emphasize both doing and knowing: why the majority of its faculty are working artists and scholars; and why they encourage students to take advantage of the many academic and intellectual opportunities that come with being part of a research university. Today, VCUarts graduates can be found throughout the academic and professional fields and have been recognized with everything from Emmys to MacArthur Fellowships.


     VCUarts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Dance, the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Schools of Theatre, the Virginia Department of Education, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education.


     VCUarts is ranked as the #1 public university arts and design school in the county by US News and World Report. The school is comprised of sixteen programs, includes more than 3,000 students, and has become known as a pillar of artistic creation and expression. Its emerging artists explore their potential and strive for high standards set by faculty members acknowledged for their inspiration and achievement.


     VCUarts and VCUarts Qatar are dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty committed to teaching and working in a multicultural and inclusive environment and strongly encourages applications from all racial/ethnic, gender and social identities.


     For more information on VCU and VCUarts visit and

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development:


     Education City is an outgrowth of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a private, chartered, non-profit organization in the state of Qatar, founded in 1995 by decree of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned is Qatar Foundation's Chairperson and driving force. Qatar Foundation structures its actions around three pillars: Education, Science and Research and associated Community Development.


     Under Qatar Foundation's umbrella are Education City, anchored by Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and the Qatar campuses of several elite universities, several academic and training programs, and the Qatar Science and Technology Park, which boasts more than 21 world-class companies involved in scientific research and development. Qatar Foundation has also launched the World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE – a global forum that brings together education stakeholders, opinion leaders and decision makers from all over the world to discuss educational issues.


     Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development (QF), has been established to continue fulfilling QF's vision of unlocking human potential. HBKU is an emerging research university building its foundation upon innovative and unique collaborations with local and international partners.


     Located within Education City on the western edge of Doha, the capital city of Qatar, HBKU seeks to provide unparalleled opportunities where inquiry and discovery are integral to teaching and learning at all levels, combining the riches of Arab culture with international perspectives. It will deliver an array of research education Masters and Doctoral programs through its interdisciplinary graduate Colleges: College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Law and Public Policy, College of Public Health, College of Business, and Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.


     For more information on the Qatar National Vision 2030 please visit:


The Role of the Dean:


     Reporting to the Dean, VCUarts in Richmond, VA, who also serves as Special Assistant to the Provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar, the next Dean, VCUarts Qatar, will arrive at a time of great strength, as well as potential, for VCUarts. With responsibility for VCUarts Qatar's academic and artistic programs, its faculty, staff, students and facilities, in addition to its exhibition programs. With delegated authority from the Dean, VCUarts, but with regular reporting to and coordination with the Dean, VCUarts and his Leadership Team, the new Dean, VCUarts Qatar, will be encouraged to seek ways to further the mission and expand the resources of VCUarts Qatar. The Dean, VCUarts Qatar, in conjunction with the Dean, VCUarts, will take the lead in shaping the future of the School, articulating a shared vision that defines the standards of excellence, the directions of its growth and new multi-disciplinary connections that are possible within Education City, Qatar and the Arabian Gulf region.


     The Dean will establish expectations for strong intellectual engagement and significant accomplishments, provide strategic vision and operational leadership to all aspects of the academic and scholarly programs and contribute to the existence of an environment and community that support the school's faculty and students. In particular, the Dean will assure that the school continues to serve its students with academic programs of the highest quality and effectiveness, promoting excellence as well as diversity. In concert with the faculty, the Dean will be responsible for student and faculty recruitment, retention and diversity. Supporting the school's research mission, the Dean will promote opportunities to advance the scholarly activities of the faculty and – when appropriate – work to establish new programs, including the opportunities that interdisciplinary approaches afford.


     The Dean will play a highly visible and integral role in developing and enhancing relationships with external stakeholders. In particular, the Dean will work closely with the other Deans in Education City to forge positive relationships and common interests in support of the VCUarts Qatar institutional priorities and priorities of the Qatar Foundation as well as developing strong ties with Qatari museums and other local and regional collaborators. The Dean, VCUarts Qatar will be a member of the Education City Dean's Council, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Foundation.


     Primary responsibilities of the Dean, VCUarts Qatar, in conjunction with the Dean, VCUarts in Richmond, VA, will include articulating a vision and developing a strategic plan for the School, as well as implementing significant priorities; collaboration with academic leaders in Doha and Richmond, VA to build programs and recruit faculty; and the establishment of strong working relationships with groups and individuals in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf region, on the VCU Richmond campus, and within the VCUarts Qatar community.

Responsibilities of the Dean VCUarts Qatar include:

• providing leadership in the School's academic, research and service activities;

• interfacing with governmental and private sectors, including diplomatic missions to Qatar, the country's government ministries and royal family, and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development;

• maintaining sensitivity to innovations that will impact students' learning;

• promoting innovative ideas and approaches to the establishment and support of the design fields in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf region; and

• developing a relationship of mutual respect with all the School's external partners, students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as with university leaders and administrators in Richmond.


     The Dean will serve as the principal steward of the school's resources – faculty, staff and students – and will oversee the school's budget of more than $36 million and facilities. Reporting to the Dean are the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Administration, Senior Research Officer, Executive Director of Communications, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean for Enrollment & Registration Services, and the Chief Safety Officer. The Dean also oversees a wide range of units and activities that support the academic program – including a library, student affairs, student health and wellness, admissions, finance, human resources, safety and security, information technology, public affairs and facilities – as well supporting the lives and well-being of faculty, staff and their families in the areas of housing, education, health and community affairs. It shall be the responsibility of the Dean, VCUarts Qatar to ensure that his or her direct reports and others in significant VCU Qatar leadership or other appropriate positions maintain regular and consistent contact with their designated counterparts or contact persons in the VCU School of the Arts and with the Dean, VCUarts' Leadership Team, in order to ensure, among other things, the ability of the VCU School of the Arts to satisfy its obligations to maintain appropriate standards as mandated under the VCU Qatar Operational Agreement between VCU and the Qatar Foundation.


Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership:

Articulate the Vision for VCUarts Qatar:


     The Dean, VCUarts Qatar, in conjunction with the Dean, VCUarts, will be expected to implement the school's vision with deft leadership, strong management, organizational skills and effective communication. The school's plans and priorities will need to reflect the context of the Qatar Foundation's goals for education and the Qatar National Vision 2030. The Qatar Foundation's increased focus on research as well as interdisciplinary programs and the emergence of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) as a global research university will be important factors in ensuring VCUarts Qatar's role in the future of education in Qatar. By building strong relationships with the Provost of HBKU, the Deans of the other institutions in Education City and with external stakeholders both in the art world and in Qatari business, government and industry, the new Dean will help to define and articulate a strong vision for the arts and arts education in the Arabian Gulf region.

Recruit, Retain and Support Faculty Development:


     A high priority for the Dean is to assure the continued quality, diversity and success of the faculty. The VCUarts Qatar environment is one of shared values and commitment to the students who join it each year. VCUarts Qatar will continue to place a high priority on recruiting, retention and supporting faculty. The Dean will be expected to advance faculty research support and help expand opportunities for collaborative research within the Qatar Research Park. In addition, the Dean be expected to pursue opportunities to expand collaborative courses and research linking programs within VCUarts Qatar, across Education City, outward to the main campus in Richmond, as well as within the region. The Dean, along with the department chairs, will play a leading role in these endeavors.


Support and Strengthen an Environment Focused on Student Success:


     Another high priority for VCUarts Qatar and for the Dean is to assure the continued academic achievement and success of the students. The Dean will be expected to work with the faculty and admissions to attract talented students and cultivate an environment and infrastructure that contributes to and supports students' success. VCUarts Qatar's student body is multinational with approximately half of the students being Qatari and half coming primarily from other countries in the Middle East but also from Europe and other parts of Asia. The Dean can play a critical role by working with the departmental chairs to identify and provide students with more exposure of their work externally.

Curriculum and Program Development:

     Working collaboratively with the chairs and associate deans in both Doha and Richmond, the new Dean will ensure that the high quality of existing programs is maintained. Also, the Dean will look for opportunities to develop new programs within VCUarts Qatar, including interdisciplinary programs which would link VCUarts Qatar and the other institutions within Education City, as well as additional areas of programmatic development in disciplines and areas where VCU might bring significant experience and expertise.

Ensure and Enhance the Sense of Community:


     VCUarts Qatar is a small, tightly-knit community, as is the larger Education City community. The unique dynamics of a small campus, the Arabic culture and presence of a large number of expatriates in Doha, has created an environment where VCUarts Qatar frequently is involved in the personal lives of the faculty, staff and students, as well as in their professional and academic lives. The Dean will need to understand and embrace these unique relationships and be engaged in supporting the lives and well-being of faculty, staff and students, and their families in a multitude of ways that may not be directly related to the academic environment. A Dean who is equally comfortable interacting with students as well as their families, in addition to the staff and faculty, in the halls of VCUarts Qatar as well as outside of "campus life", is vital to maintaining a strong sense of community and well-being.

External Relations:

     VCUarts Qatar has enjoyed strong, collaborative relationships with the Qatar Foundation and with the other institutions within Education City. These relationships are central to the effectiveness of the Dean to develop more collaborative partnerships, increase interdisciplinary programs and research and raise the profile of VCUarts Qatar locally and internationally. Continuing to build effective collaborations is among the Dean's primary responsibilities.


     Both within Qatar and the Arabian Gulf region, the new Dean will strive to bring the prominence of the school's faculty, students and academic programs to a greater level of visibility. As the arts play an important role in society and provide a highly visible opportunity for VCU, VCUarts and VCUarts Qatar, the Dean will develop ways to increase opportunities to connect with the local community as well as with VCU in Richmond. Countless such opportunities are believed to exist, and the Dean, working with the faculty, will need to set priorities and strategies that will increase the school's visibility and the value of arts and design in the region. These efforts will enhance student success and further build VCU's, VCUarts' and VCUarts Qatar's strong brands.


Personal Qualifications and Personal Qualities:

     Qualifications for the position include commitment to the mission of VCUarts Qatar and to the quality of its academic programs, substantial leadership and management experience and personal qualities that include cultural sensitivity and strong communication and diplomacy skills. The successful candidate will possess a distinguished record of academic and management success and a record of scholarly achievement; however, candidates whose leadership abilities and outstanding accomplishments in the arts and/or design could translate well to academia are welcomed and will receive serious consideration. He or she will have demonstrated the ability to foster a climate where learning and artistic discovery flourish. The successful candidate will demonstrate the ability to balance strong academic and intellectual leadership with effective external relationship-building and resource development. Demonstrated ability and willingness to establish and develop collaborative relationships and to pursue additional revenue generation opportunities will be highly valued as VCUarts Qatar seeks to enhance and further develop its research and related missions.

In addition, candidates must demonstrate the following professional experience and personal attributes:

• the ability to articulate the School's vision, goals, accomplishments and needs to its
many constituents;
• proven leadership ability, including exceptionally strong communication, management and organizational skills;
• a graduate/terminal degree and an acceptable understanding of the design professions;
• an outstanding record of teaching, research and service sufficient to warrant appointment as full professor and the capacity to lead academic and research programs to excellence;
• demonstrated experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff and student environment or commitment to do so as a faculty member at VCUarts Qatar.
• a commitment to undergraduate education and a deep respect for and engagement with students;
• the ability to work effectively in an environment of wide cultural diversity and the ability to earn and maintain mutual respect with and from faculty, staff, students, alumni and university, governmental and business leaders;
• a commitment to supporting and cultivating a distinguished, accomplished and diverse faculty and to supporting research for individual faculty and multi-disciplinary teams;
• the ability to serve as an advocate for VCUarts Qatar within the VCU School of the Arts, among the other institutions in Education City and broadly in Doha and the Arabian Gulf region;
• the ability to bring creative academic leadership to the school and its programs, exercising thoughtful academic judgment and continually seeking opportunities to advance academic excellence;
• demonstrated cultural "savvy" with strong diplomatic skills and an appropriate level of political sophistication; the ability to bring disparate groups and individuals together and to know when compromise is essential and when it is not possible; and an understanding of and the ability to maneuver adeptly within diplomatic circles and the hierarchy of Qatari society; and
• a demonstrated strong understanding of American higher education; the ability to work effectively within a highly complex organizational structure, respecting both the commitment to providing a VCU undergraduate experience as well as the need to be sensitive to local realities; and a demonstrated depth of understanding of and support of the University's research mission and commitment to excellence.

Experience and expertise in international education and familiarity with the cultures of the Middle East and its Arabic countries will be considered a valued attribute. Leadership experience at a Research One or comparable institution is preferred.

Procedure for Candidacy:

     To apply, please submit application materials via VCU eJobs. Only electronic applications submitted via eJobs will be accepted. The review of credentials will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Candidates should provide a curriculum vita, a letter of application that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in the Leadership Profile, and the names and contact information of five references. References will not be contacted without prior knowledge and approval of candidates. All nominations and applications shall be confidential. Requests for information and all written nominations should be directed to:

Storbeck Pimentel & Associates
Susan VanGilder, Partner
Julie Tea, Partner
Beth McCarthy, Senior Associate


     Virginia Commonwealth University is committed to providing accessible and equitable living, learning and working environments free from discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex (including pregnancy), political affiliation, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or disability.

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