Design expert Amir Berbić named dean of VCUarts in Qatar

Amir Berbić
Amir Berbic, the new dean of the VCU School of the Arts Qatar. (Photo courtesy Amir Berbic)

Amir Berbic, a design expert who has worked in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, has been appointed dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, effective Aug. 1.

Berbic, a professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has served as associate dean for faculty affairs of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; chair of graphic design; and as acting director of the School of Design.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Amir Berbic to VCUarts Qatar,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “I am confident the university’s legacy of groundbreaking innovation and creativity will continue with Dean Berbic as leader. I look forward to working with him for years to come.”

Berbic has worked in collaboration with cultural organizations, arts institutions and publishers. His scholarly and creative work examines the role design can have in shaping identities of places.

“Dean Berbic’s experience makes him an ideal leader for the environment of creative innovation and dynamic intercultural collaboration at VCUarts Qatar,” said Shawn Brixey, dean of the VCU School of the Arts. “As a university administrator, he has advocated for the crucial role of the arts and design, demonstrating a commitment to the intersection of the arts across disciplines. His own creative practice relies on connecting fields of knowledge and investing in myriad possibilities offered by cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

Prior to joining the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014, Berbic was on the Art and Design faculty of the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. He was on the AIGA Chicago board of directors from 2015-18, serving as vice president and co-chair of education.

Berbic’s work has been recognized in numerous publications, conferences and exhibitions including Design Issues, Visual Communication, Print, Graphis, The Society of Typographic Arts, the International Council of Design, AIGA Design Educators Community, TypeCon and Salone del Mobile in Milan. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“VCUarts Qatar is nimble, dynamic, experimental, and it is a lab for innovative ideas that emerge out of research, teaching and student initiatives within a very unique environment,” Berbic said. “I am inspired by the cooperation between VCU and the Qatar Foundation to establish a world-class arts institution in the Gulf — one that responds to the local context while having global impact. I am especially excited by the possibilities to expand on VCU's relationships with the other esteemed institutions in Doha's Education City, an academic environment with colleges from worldwide universities operating in proximity, and allowing students and faculty opportunities for cross-institutional collaboration.”

Berbic succeeds Executive Dean Donald N. Baker, Ph.D., who will continue in his role through Dec. 31.

Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Berbic immigrated to the United States in the 1990s where he completed his studies and worked in editorial design and publishing. He holds an MFA in visual communication from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.

About VCUarts

VCUarts is a comprehensive art school within a major, urban public research university. Currently ranked the No. 1 public school of art and design by U.S. News and World Report, it offers 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degree programs in fine arts, design, performing arts, historical research and pedagogical practice. Its campus in Qatar provides students and faculty with a direct tie to the Middle East, a region of increasing significance in the contemporary art world. Distinguished faculty members are internationally recognized in their respective fields and contribute significantly to the stature of VCU and are committed to mentoring the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars and engaged citizens of diverse communities around the world.