VCUarts announces the new Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair for Islamic Art


VCUarts has named Hala Auji the Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair for Islamic Art, effective August 16. She is the third person to hold this appointment since its inception in 2006, when the Qatar Foundation endowed the position. VCUarts was honored with the Hamad bin Khalifa Chair for Islamic Art at VCU by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir of Qatar.

A key member of the school’s Department of Art History, the Khalifa Endowed Chair will provide students on both the Richmond and VCUarts Qatar campuses with an education that broadens worldviews and emphasizes research excellence in national and international contexts. Additionally, Auji will oversee the Biennial International Symposium of Islamic Art and produce an accompanying publication with Yale University Press. This is the first time the chair has been permanently assigned to the VCUarts Richmond campus, and both Richmond and Doha are excited about this change and additional opportunities for cross-campus activity.

Auji joins the school from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where she has served since 2014 as both assistant professor and then associate professor of art history for the Department of Fine Arts and Art History. Before her time at the American University of Beirut, Auji taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Binghamton University in the State University of New York. From 2021-22, she served as a fellow in the “Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (EUME),” a multidisciplinary research program at the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien. 

“I am thrilled to join VCUarts as the new Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair for Islamic Art, where I will assist in expanding VCUarts’ offerings in Islamic and Middle Eastern art,” said Auji. “I’m also excited about strengthening the institution’s global reach through collaborations with VCUarts Qatar, such as the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art.”

In addition to Auji’s impressive career in higher education, her research has been published widely, and she is the author of “Printing Arab Modernity: Book Culture and the American Press in Nineteenth-Century Beirut.” 

“We are excited about Dr. Auji joining VCUarts in the fall,” said Dean Carmenita Higginbotham. “Her experience in Islamic and Middle Eastern art education will undoubtedly be an asset to our students and community. We are also looking forward to Dr. Auji’s work with VCUarts Qatar, which will continue to deepen our relationship.”