7 questions for NU-Q’s new Director of Student Affairs

January 30, 2012

Greg Bergida, M.B.A., is NU-Q’s new Director of Student Affairs. With a background in both academic and business institutions, he brings a fresh approach to giving students the experience they’ll need to succeed in the 21st-century economy. We sat down with him to talk about his new job.

Congrats on the new position. For starters, tell us about what student affairs does at NU-Q?

GB: Student Affairs manages the NU-Q student experience outside of the classroom. This includes student activities, clubs and organizations, service learning, career management, academic advisement, and are the first point of contact for student issues. We also handle special services such as health and wellness and the registrar. We work in conjunction with both the journalism and communications programs as well as the dean’s office, to make sure that our programs complement the academic element as much as possible.

You’ve worked in both academia and business – how do you think that background might give you a unique perspective on student affairs here? GB: My business background required me to collaborate with other departments, think creatively, develop business models, and find ways to meet market demands. My background in academia has created a mindset that has me always thinking in a ‘cat’s cradle’ model: movement of one aspect pulls a cord that impacts others. I cannot express enough how important communication and collaboration is, and as I get started here at NU-Q, I am very happy to see how open all of the departments are about working together. I hope that my business background and my ‘end product’ strategy will help me in making sure that all of the efforts of Student Affairs are on track with insuring we have the best interest of the students and the NU-Q program at heart.

What drew you to Doha, Education City and Qatar? GB: Northwestern is one of the top academic institutions in the fields of Journalism and Communications, so to be a part of that is an honor. Add to that the chance to be in such an interesting country and a dynamic city like Doha, it was a perfect fit for me. Qatar Foundation and Education City have built an academic community that is going to have a major impact on the next generation of the professional community in Qatar and beyond.

What part of this job are you most excited about? GB: I am most excited to get to know the students. I have so far been spending most of my time getting up to speed on the operational side of NU-Q and Education City, but I can’t wait to get to meet more of the students. Those who I have met already have impressed me. They are passionate about the school, their courses, and their futures. They really are a great group.

What advice do you have for senior students as they prepare to graduate (our first graduating class!)? GB: Find something you are passionate about. Everything else will find a way to fall into place, but make sure you do something you love. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that the long hours, tight deadlines, stress, and running around are all worth it. You need to wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead, and finish your day excited about what you accomplished.

What are your impressions of Qatar so far? GB: My main impression so far about Qatar is how focused the country is on growth and development. It’s such an exciting place to be. There are new buildings being constructed, film festivals, an influx of global cultures, and of course the 2022 World Cup. When I first visited, I immediately fell in love with the culture, the people, and its media and film industries. I am continuing to discover Doha’s food scene, which is proving to be a lot of fun as well.

Any projects coming up that you’re excited about? GB: The two big programs that I am learning more about and working with are the student service learning trip to Morocco this March and our journalism students going on their residencies. The Morocco trip is still finalizing its agenda but it’s shaping up to be a great learning experience for those students selected to go. Senior Associate Dean Roth has been working with Student Affairs and other offices on the residencies in the UK, New York City, and Washington, D.C. and the companies that he has partnered with for our students to work at is an impressive list. What an opportunity for the journalism students.