Saturday, August 04, 2007

Commitment to change and off to Qatar

As you've noticed in my blog and as those of you have interacted with me lately have noticed, I've been talking about Doha, Qatar, and Education City a lot lately. I started talking about it when my daughter, Darbi, chose to take a job there working with one of the branches of Education City - Carnegie Mellon University. We put her on the plane on Sunday night, August 5, 2007, to begin her new life in the Arabian Gulf. We had to gulp when we sent her off but we know it will be an incredible experience for her. When I graduated from Colorado State University in 1973 and moved to Maryland, I thought I was taking a big jump in going so far from home - I wasn't even close to what Darbi is doing but she is like many young people today - boundariless in so many ways.

Darbi has committed herself to change and now I find that I will as well. Our decisions have been completely independent but we're ending up in the same place - Doha, Qatar. After thirteen years at Miami, I will leave this fall to join the Qatar Foundation as Assistant Vice President of Education for Faculty and Student Services. The Qatar Foundation "educates citizens who will participate fully in the nation's emerging democratic processes and engage respectfully, confidently, and constructively with people from other countries and cultures." I will work with faculty and student services for the current six branch campuses (Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Virginia Common Wealth) and the others to come. It seems unimaginable to have such an extraordinary opportunity and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure it's for real. The great surprise is that I thought I would remain at Miami but I always said that if something extraordinary should ever come along, I would consider it. And, did it ever?!

My future work at Education City will be focused on contributing to a campus culture that is holistic, diverse, connected, innovative, and is purposely visioned to transform the lives of students and of the Arabian Gulf region. Student affairs work as we've come to know it in most institutions in the U.S.A. has become hampered by bureaucracy, administrative divisions, and structures that inhibit the real purpose of this work - enhancing community that creates deeper learning for all. Education City is composed of branch campuses, each of which embraces the responsibility for creating high quality learning for students. My role with the Qatar Foundation will allow me to work with and through others, providing necessary resources and processes, and engaging in the necessary and catalytic work that will create learning opportunities for students, staff, and faculty. The ideas we will use in Qatar haven't even been dreamt as yet; I will work with colleagues to make up what this extraordinary place will be.

As the months unfold, I will continue to blog on the Qatar Foundation experience. The theme of the blog, "Pursuing Leadership," will necessarily be my continuing focus. I will be pursuing a type of leadership that is truly informed by 21st century issues and I will learn with my new colleagues as I take on this new challenge. I will also pursue cultural learning, travel, and adaptation I've never had the chance to do before - a true commitment to challenge myself. Come back and follow this continuing journey and engage with me as I discover. As a starter, you might want to learn a little more about Doha and Education city - amazing things are happening.

As a side-note, I would like to acknowledge and express my appreciation to my wife, Diane, for supporting me in this amazing venture. She is my lifetime partner and love; when we committed to provide each other space to be and do what we were called to be, I never imagined it would allow the expanses to which we've gone. My daughters are role models and enthusiasts all the way. Some of my friends and colleagues have not been as surprised at my decision to move as I expected; the irony is that evidently my family and some of my colleagues saw the yearning that I could not see - something yet more challenging to fulfill what has already been a deeply rewarding career. I appreciate all your support while the possibilities ripened and I will be forever indebted to the colleagues from whom I've learned and who will continue to be part of the global network that is now binding us all together.


Darbi said...

Congratulations!!! Can't wait to see you here in a month or so. I know this is the opportunity you've been wanting and waiting for for so long now, and I can't even dream big enough to see your works' impact here and throughout the ever-expanding world of higher education!

Anonymous said...

As someone who was not so surprised to hear about your plans, I am pumped up for this new chapter to begin for you. This will be an opportunity for you to flex some muscle and really help create learning environments that matter. I can't wait to hear how it works out.

Your decision has a strange effect of making me suspect I'm rattling around in a much smaller world than I could be.

nattering natalie said...

Denny! This is fantastic. Congratulations. I am so very excited for you.

Your biggest fan,