Friday, March 18, 2005

VCU-Qatar: the art of expansion - Richmond Times Dispatch
Are you a feminist? Well, I'm married to one.

In less than a decade, the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University has risen like a rocket into the elite ranks of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the country.
Since 1996, when Toscan arrived at VCU, the School of the Arts has soared from a 25th national ranking, as judged by U.S. News & World Report, the bible of such rankings, to sixth overall.
Among public colleges, VCU's art programs are ranked No. 1, in a tie with UCLA.

Money from Qatar has been the School of the Arts' rocket fuel, propelling the school to top national rankings.
The dimensions of the Qatar Foundation's largess is perhaps best exemplified in a recent announcement that it was going to build a $900 million, 350-bed medical care and research center -- Cornell's medical college will have its operations there -- with an $8 billion endowment.
=VCU's School of the Arts receives, on average, about $1.5 million a year from the Qatar Foundation, the financing arm of the educational initiative. The school splits the money with the university. With its share, the school has been giving out scholarships to outstanding students, pouring money into programs, instituting curricular innovations and sending its students and faculty to far-flung venues for festivals and conferences. The result has been to burnish the reputation of the school far beyond the borders of Virginia.
Then her highness came in.
="She totally blows us away," Toscan said. "She's a gorgeous woman who could've been a model. She is wearing an ankle-length black skirt and jewelry that looked like it came from Cartier."
=Toscan vividly remembers the conversation that ensued. After some small talk, he explained to her highness that he was highly interested in the idea of single-sex education for women.
="She paused and looked at me. She said, 'Are you a feminist?'"
="I had no idea what to say," Toscan recalled. "So I said, "Well, I'm married to one.'"
Her highness laughed, and Toscan said everybody on the VCU team believes "that was the moment she decided to let us do Qatar."



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