Dean Expects Community Re-Building As NU-Q Begins Hybrid Spring Semester

Sudesh Baniya, Staff Reporter

(Photo/ NU-Q)

Northwestern University in Qatar’s Spring Semester will be hybrid with a gradual increase in on-campus classes, said Marwan Kraidy, dean and CEO of NU-Q, during the monthly town hall meeting with students on Wednesday.

“The faculty is doing its best to create a teaching environment that becomes as close as possible to the in-person teaching experience. I’m thankful for your patience, for your fortitude on this. I’m very hopeful that things will change sooner rather than later,” said Kraidy. “The good news is that in Qatar, at the moment, the pandemic seems to be under control. The semester is going to be hybrid with a gradual increase in face-to-face components.”

NU-Q’s new visibility policy, which requires students to turn on their cameras during class zoom sessions will also help to mimic an on-campus experience, and enhance students’ learning experience, he said. 

However, students with unique circumstances or who feel uncomfortable turning on their cameras can request a policy waiver, he explained. 

Kraidy urged everybody to continue being patient and extremely careful while the university begins to conduct in-person classes. “We are still only allowed to have 30 percent occupancy for students. We are trying to prioritize students whose classes require them to be on campus,” he said. “There are expectations that we still have to comply considering that the pandemic is still not over.”

He added that student clubs and organizations can now look forward to conducting in-person events, either indoors or outdoors, after performing a thorough risk assessment. 

He also revealed his four main priorities going into the Spring Semester.

His first and foremost priority is to rebuild the NU-Q community by connecting the faculty, staff and students. “Organizing outdoor events, activating academic committees, and reactivating the Student Union activities to make everyone feel belonged to the community is the main goal,” he said. 

His second priority is to improve NU-Q’s outreach. “One of the main goals is to meet all kinds of people in media industries in Qatar, including people in ministries and higher education in Qatar. This will create an awareness about NU-Q that will help us with internships, jobs, and all kinds of positives,” he said.

Similarly, empathizing with students, Kraidy said in the future he will ensure more backup study abroad opportunities for students. “I feel the pain on a daily basis for those who dreamed of being in Evanston, or London, or Chicago, or in New York, for all the great programs that we have,” he said. “We’re trying to increase the opportunities to make sure we always have backup plans the next time we’re hit by something [the pandemic] like this.”  

He hinted that Spring 2022 will be the “realistic time to expect a full-fledged return to normalcy in terms of student exchange and travel programs.”

His third priority is to “lift the status, reputation, and quality of the faculty” in order to drive NU-Q’s academic mission forward, he said. He revealed the formation of an academic committee to address past issues related to faculty. “One of the issues that we had in the past was lack of a rigorous, transparent, and consistent system to hire, evaluate, and promote faculty,” he explained. “The associate dean is leading the committee to develop standards that will allow us to begin recruiting better faculty and helping our faculty to stay at the top of their game.”

“The fourth priority is to work on building NU-Q’s own research center,” said Kraidy. “The research center will focus on allowing students to become better researchers, better consumers, and better critics of research to help lift the quality of everything we do at NU-Q.”

The dean re-assured that priorities laid out during the Fall Semester will be continued throughout the new semester. One of the major priorities, the Institutional Equity Working Group, has now become a “shining example” for other committees due to students’ participation in governance, he said.

The Dean’s Office is also working closely to push the limits imposed by space, budget, and opportunities to deal with an increasing number of students who want to work more hours, he said. Kraidy announced that the student emergency fund has been rolled out and can be used provided a student fulfills all the qualifications.

Kraidy also announced that the final candidate for the therapist search has been selected, and the NU-Q community can expect to see a new counselor soon on campus.

Addressing students’ questions, Kraidy said that he has been working closely with the finance department to devise a structure for fee payment that is flexible and makes things logistically and psychologically easier for students during these times. “We need to re-visit the structure to make sure we come up with a better system so that nobody feels that they’re hostage to pay tuition at the immediate level,” he said.

The dean thanked everyone for showing up in the town hall and asking questions on behalf of the community. “I respect you for putting out these issues,” he concluded. “Your job is to keep pushing, and our job is to keep working on issues until they’re solved.” 


Facebook Comments Box