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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Building Inauguration at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Education City
Doha, Qatar
February 13, 2011

Opening Remarks

Distinguished guests, members of the Georgetown community, thank you for joining us this evening. It’s an honor to be with you to celebrate the opening of the new home for the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Doha. 

A building of this significance could only have been built with the extraordinary engagement and vision of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, the Qatar Royal family,and the Qatar Foundation. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Her Highness. We are truly honored to partner with you. Thank you for joining us for this very special occasion.   

So many here were instrumental in the development of this building. Georgetown would like to offer our deep gratitude to:

  • The building architects, Ricardo and Victor Legorreta of Legorreta + Legorreta...

  • …As well as the project managers and contractors for the design and construction of the project

  • Mr. Saad Al-Muhanaadi and the Capital Projects and Facilities Division,

  • Dr. Saif Al-Hajri, 

  • Dr. Fathy Saoud, 

  • Dr. Abdulla Al-Thani and the Education Division,

  • Mr. Rashid Al-Naimi and the Administration Division, and

  • Mrs. Haya Al-Nasr and the Communications Directorate.

Thank you all for your extraordinary efforts. We are so honored and proud to call this building our home. 

It is unlikely that John Carroll could have imagined, when he founded our university 222 years ago, that one day, we would have a campus 7,000 miles, 11,000 kilometers, away, but I am certain that this is part of the legacy that he left for Georgetown.   

Our tradition of international engagement began at our founding. In our early years, nearly a fifth of our students came from outside the United States.1 Integral to our university’s academic excellence has been this willingness to educate the best and the brightest from across the globe. Today, more than 130 countries are represented in our student body. Each of you here contributes to and enhances this important legacy. 

This new home for our School of Foreign Service in Doha is an extraordinary building and truly worthy of the dynamic community we have here. On my many visits to this campus, I have always felt the very same sense of shared values and community that animates our Hilltop in Washington, D.C. 

Now, with this new building, the synergies between our two campuses will continue to grow. As I look at the flags hanging in this room, each one representing the 46 nationalities of students and alumni on this campus, I recall the flags lining our Intercultural Center in Washington. When I walk the hallways, and past the garden, I am reminded of my walks through Healy Hall to Dahlgren Quad. But I also find present here, the distinct spirit of Qatar, whether engraved into the columns or in the spirit of the community we share.

This is a place perfectly suited for the academic pursuits that will enable our students to grow into the next generation of world leaders. What our students experience during their time on campus—now, what they will experience in this building—is best thought of as a journey. As Hoyas, their explorations are guided by the very best faculty, the most committed staff, and a university community that is always seeking to be better and stronger and more deeply engaged in the world. It’s a journey that we hope is, as will be inscribed near the entrance to this campus, “full of adventure, full of knowledge.”2

1. Curran, R. Emmett.  A History of Georgetown: The Complete Three-Volume Set, 1789-1989.  Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2010.  35.

2.  An excerpt from a quote on one of the columns; quotes were chosen by the community for the “Meditation Walk”


Inaugural Moment

I want to thank Mrs. Jeanne Ruesch, who was instrumental in the commissioning of this sculpture, and Abdulrahman Nassar (SFS ’11, Student Government Association President), for joining me in this presentation.  

Inscribed on our university seal, is our University motto: Utraque unum. Latin, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to Ephesians, it means “both into one.” A guiding principle for our university since our founding, utraque unum speaks to our university’s ability and capacity to manage differences, to synthesize competing concepts, and to build bridges of understanding. It speaks to the harmony we seek, in our pursuit of knowledge…and in our relationships, the common ground, we seek between cultures, faiths, traditions. 

In Qatar, where great ancient traditions are fused with modern culture, the value of harmony, of utraque unum, plays an especially important role in the work we do here at Georgetown. In our gratitude to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and the Royal Family of Qatar, we hoped to capture the essence of what you have made possible for this campus. 

What we will reveal in a moment is an artist’s proof of a larger sculpture that will be placed in the “prefunction” space just outside the Auditorium. The artist John Dreyfuss created this sculpture in a studio one block from our Hilltop front gates in Washington, D.C. We commissioned a lyre as the subject—an instrument invented by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, a culture known for their rich contributions to music, literature, art, and government. It is an instrument used by civilizations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. 

Symbolizing learning, the lyre was incorporated into the design of our university seal when it was first adopted. You can find the lyre pictured just above the Eagle.  

With its references to the cultivation of the mind, to ideas of beauty and art, and the unifying presence music has, this piece represents the depth of our appreciation to Her Highness, the Qatar Royal Family, the people of Qatar and the spirit of togetherness they share with our community.

It is with the presentation of this gift that I formally open the Georgetown University Building in Education City. 

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