March 1, 2002

C.U. Professor

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Prof. David Robertshaw, biomedical sciences became the first Cornell professor to move to Qatar on Feb. 10. As associate dean for pre-medical education at Weill Medical College in Qatar, he will spend the next six months preparing the school for its first pre-medical program class which starts Sept. 7.

“I’m very busy,” Robertshaw said from his new home in Doha, Qatar where he will live with his wife for at least five years. “The labs are being built, I’m overseeing that,” in addition to recruiting faculty and, “meeting with … architects, the construction people, … students” and supervising “the procurement of materials” for the labs. He is also organizing the admissions office, which will begin accepting applications this month.

Robertshaw and Caroline Montgomery, director of human resources at the college, are the first staff members to arrive. The medical college was initiated in conjunction with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

Robertshaw’s permanent residence is a townhouse inside a gated compound in downtown Doha, one of two compounds which will house faculty, staff and administrators, according to Dr. Daniel R. Alonso, Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. “[They are] the place of residence of many U.S. embassy staff members,” he said.

“I’ll be moving back and forth from between [Doha and Ithaca],” Robertshaw said.

He has visited Qatar at least five times before, so there was no shock involved in the move, he said.

“We’re settling in. It’s a beautiful house … and beautiful weather,” he said. “It was an easy and seamless transition.”

Qatar is located in the Middle East adjacent to Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Robertshaw asserts that he has not encountered any problems — “none whatsoever.” He added, “It’s all very civilized.”

“There are no conflicts that I am aware of,” Alonso said. “Qatar is a safe country, devoid of the conflicts and instability that plague other nations in the area. … In a recent trip, I was able to confirm how safe, comfortable and pleasant a place Doha is.”

The facilities under construction are state-of-the-art. Robertshaw is able to communicate with colleagues in New York via e-mail and videoconferencing. Since the buildings will not be completed by the fall, classes will be held in temporary facilities on campus.

“There will be at least three or four professors moving in to teach [in Qatar] next fall,” said Philip Lewis, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In total, according to Alonso, approximately 50 faculty, administrators and staff members will live in Doha by Sept.

“Enthusiasm for us being here prevails,” Robertshaw said. “I personally have been welcomed. We’re looking forward to this educational innovation.”

Archived article by Andy Guess