Here at the University today we are celebrating the opening of the College of Pharmacy’s new Qatar Pavilion. This is a big deal. In addition to our president, the mayor will be saying a few words and the special guest is His Excellency Saad Bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, the Minister of Education & Higher Education for the State of Qatar.
Olivia and I beat the crowd by sneaking over there earlier this week and taking a peek, as well as a few pictures.
My favorite moment on our self-guided tour was when Olivia pulled back a curtain to reveal a mannequin lying on a table. She just about jumped out of her skin.
It’s called the Qatar Pavilion because the nation of Qatar donated $12.5 million toward its construction. That’s part of $100 million Qatar donated to various causes in the local area following Hurricane Katrina. This provides a good antidote to a couple of pernicious myths. The first myth is that the USA doesn’t receive foreign aid. Yes, we do. I recall after Katrina even poor nations like Jamaica and Bangladesh were helping us out. The second myth is, of course, the idea that Islam is at war with Christianity. I’d just like to point out that Qatar is a Muslim country and our school is Catholic. ‘Nuff said.
I hope to show my parents the new building when they come to visit. They were mighty impressed by our new University Center five or six years ago. It’s pretty cool to be at a place that is growing even in these tough times. The University has been in growth mode since before I came to work here. Enrollment took a hit after the floods of 2005, for sure, but we’re back to our pre-Katrina numbers now or getting close. This next fiscal year may be the toughest I’ve seen, but at least we’re not laying people off.
Of course, with growth come growing pains. Success presents new challenges. How can an institution such as ours aspire to the next level and still hold onto its soul? That question is on my mind as we read The Heart of Higher Education in our faculty book club.
And on a relevant note, the next construction project here is the building of a new chapel, which is already underway.