On Thursday (September 8th) the faculty and staff of Zayed University joined together on the new Abu Dhabi campus to celebrate the 2011-12 Academic Convocation. Those of us located in Dubai were bused over to Abu Dhabi early in the morning to take part in the festivities. We left our campus at 7am and arrived in Abu Dhabi somewhere around 8:45am. We were welcomed by Alumni and staff who ushered us up an escalator (yes, they have an escalator!) for a welcome breakfast of coffee, tea, fruits, pastries and warm baked goods.
The day was filled with formal introductions to new staff, speeches by administration and the unveiling of the stunning new campus (previously located in downtown Abu Dhabi).
The main event of the day was touring the new campus and although the building is not completely finished, it is truly spectacular.The exterior of the building looks like a mix between a modern art museum, a space ship, an airport and perhaps even an opera house.
The interior takes advantage of tall ceiling, gleaming windows, glass walls, metal accents and consistent design lines to give it a clean modern feeling.
The design studios are filled with new macs and all the latest technology to serve our students.
I’m especially excited to use the beautiful exhibition space for design and animation exhibitions.
One of the highlights of the day was when the “new-hires” (that’s me!) got to shake hands with Sheikh Nahayan (UAE Minister of Higher Education & Research) and hear him address the needs of the University (for the coming semester and year).
We enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch in the huge cafeteria which holds up to 1000 people. It was quite possibly the largest buffet I’ve had since we’ve been in Dubai (and that’s saying something).
Later in the afternoon the Art & Design department from both campuses met together as one group to discuss the coming year. I’m proud to say the Design Department is filled with a a wonderful group of dedicated and passionate artists/designers that I can’t wait to work with.
Our department (alone) finished up the day with a trip to Yas Island where we relaxed together at Radisson Blu Hotel for yet another extravagant buffet meal.
I didn’t get home until 10:30pm at night (after having to be out the door by 6:30am) but I loved every minute of the day. Getting to know so many new people and sharing in the excitement of the new campus felt like a great way to start the Academic year.