NU-Q hosts experts on learning and teaching excellence

August 20, 2014

Two leading experts on learning and teaching excellence conducted workshops during Northwestern University in Qatar’s annual orientation and planning conference for faculty and staff, August 17 through 20. The week long program also welcomed four new fulltime faculty members and six new staff.

Gregory Light and Susanna Calkins, respectively director and associate director of the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching at Northwestern’s home campus in the US led three workshops on student learning and course design.

The two emphasized critical assessment of existing teaching and courses and suggest ways to benchmark improvement.

They joined both internal and external speakers who took on topics ranging from understanding NU-Q’s students to navigating the local community and culture as well as the laws and customs of Qatar.

“In effect our faculty and staff go back to school to help us chart the year ahead and to focus on our instructional mission as well as research and outreach, something that requires collaboration and mutual support,” said Everette E. Dennis, NU-Q’s dean and CEO.

Northwestern’s provost, Daniel Linzer addressed the gathering via video conference with a discussion of the university’s overall context and changes in the offing.

New faculty members including renowned global media expert John Downing, media law scholar Amy Sanders, communication strategy professor Ilhem Allagui were introduced and welcomed, while anthropologist Sami Hermez will join the faculty in January.

“The new faculty members join an already distinguished faculty and will greatly strengthen our offerings for students,” Dennis said.

New staffers include library director Beth Clausen, senior network engineer Nadeem Lughmani, strategic risk analyst Lea Bowman, network engineer Will Froning and special assistant Demetrious Elias.

The week began with sessions led by the Dean on “Making Connections with Impact,” which charts NU-Q’s strategic outlook and plans for the year. Other presentations included “Fostering an Inclusive Environment,” presented by chief operating officer Kathryn Symank and one on the school’s communication challenge developed by Paul Reilly, director of strategic media, marketing and communication.

The week long program provided a chance for reflection, renewal and change and to chart the school’s development in its seventh year of operation. An update and preview on the new Northwestern building, now moving toward completion in Education City, was led by planning executive director Stephen Franklin with a discussion presented by Pamela Erskine-Loftus, director of the NU-Q gallery, on the media museum scheduled to open with the new building in 2015.

Other external speakers included Patrick Forbes of Forbes Associates and Susan Bastress of Squire Patton Boggs.

Major attention was given to the school’s academic curriculum in sessions with the Dean and Associate Dean Jeremy Cohen along with program directors Mary Dedinsky (journalism), Scott Curtis (communication) and Sandra Richards (liberal arts). Associate Dean Klaus Schoenbach and Research Administrator Elizabeth Lance gave an inventory of the signature institutional research program and faculty research initiatives. Other speakers and panelists included Gregory Bergida (student affairs), Leon Braswell (admissions), Patricia Collins (health and wellness), Emily Wilson (community relations), Laura Hokenstad (health and safety), and Beth Clausen (library).