Posted on August 23, 2016

Following a week of comprehensive orientation to ease new students’ transition into university life, Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) hosted its Convocation as it welcomed its largest freshman class since establishing a campus in Doha in 2008. Addressing the convocation was Ellis Cose, a renowned author, journalist, commentator, and educator.

Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q, welcomed the NU-Q community of faculty, staff, and students, noting that this year’s class continues to represent “the best and brightest students from Qatar and different countries across the globe to NU-Q.”

In remarks titled “How Do You Want to Be Remembered,” convocation speaker Cose told the group that they all had their own story and their university experience offers an opportunity to shape that story, “…there is also something universal about the college experience. It is a time to become whatever you aspire to become, to actually be reborn, in a sense. It’s a time to relish and enjoy, offering freedom unlike what you will experience at any other point. It’s a time of reflection, and of myriad possibilities—some of which you can already see and some of which will become clearer later. And it allows you to defer, at least for a while some fundamental questions: What will my life mean? What will I do with my time on this earth? No matter how smart and reflective you are, that’s never an easy question to answer.”

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Cose continued “Great universities, by their very nature, are like huge fertile fields designed to nurture ideas, aspirations, and the very souls of the young—and sometimes the not so young. This is clearly true of this institution, whose original campus was founded in Evanston outside of my hometown of Chicago by Methodist abolitionists. It says much about the founders’ vision that, generations later, Northwestern continues to nurture students around the globe as they seek to develop themselves and find a purpose.” Joining Dennis and Cose was NU-Q’s faculty who led the new students into the venue dressed in full academic regalia. In addition to the faculty and new students, among the more than 200 gathered for the ceremony, were current students, alumni, and staff. Also speaking to the group was president of the NU-Q Student Union, Jemina Marcos Legaspi.

In his remarks to the students, Cose also noted that while they live in “perilous times, “ it is important to think about how they want to be remembered. Illustrating his point through a story of an architect who could point to his buildings as a way to be remembered, Cose told the students, “But massive structures are not the only things for which you can be remembered. At the very least, you can leave behind your good name. If you are so blessed, children may be your legacy. And, if you can find a forum, you may contribute ideas and insights that tell a larger truth.” “That journey, for many of you, will start here; so suck all the wisdom you can from this great university; and don’t worry about sucking it dry. There will always be more knowledge to take its place. Use your time here as an occasion to look out on the larger world and find a place that both needs and deserves you, to find your next plot of soil where you really belong.” Cose said.

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A longtime columnist and contributing editor for Newsweek magazine, Cose is a former editorial page editor of the New York Daily News and has also been a contributing editor and press critic for Time magazine. A Chicago native, he has a master’s degree in Science, Technology and Public Policy from George Washington University and has been a fellow at the former Gannett Center for Media Studies at Columbia University, the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, and a senior fellow and director of energy at the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington as well as a consultant to the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. The convocation speech reaffirms NU-Q’s mission to bring some of the best talent in global journalism and strategic communications to Qatar to teach, mentor and inspire Qatar’s future leaders and its next generation of communicators. According to the independent US News National Universities rankings, Northwestern is the top-ranked American university currently teaching in Qatar.