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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Convocation kicks off school year

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg has addressed an incoming freshmen class as University president for the last time.

Administrators and faculty welcomed the 2,400 students that make up this year’s freshman class in the Smith Center on Monday for the annual freshman Convocation that kicks off the school year.

“It’s a little sad, but after 30 years of doing (convocations) it becomes less imperative,” Trachtenberg said of his career as a top administrator at Boston University, the University of Hartford and at GW.

“You do 31,” he said indifferently.

Trachtenberg, who announced last spring he will be stepping down in July 2007 as University president, encouraged the class of 2010 to take advantage of GW and D.C.

“(The class of 2010) has to seize life by the lapels and dance like crazy for four years,” said Trachtenberg in an interview after the event.

Fred Siegel, associate vice president and dean of freshmen, invited the crowd to “celebrate one of Trachtenberg’s proudest achievements – welcoming the best freshman class to GW.”

The University announced last week that nearly 67 percent of this year’s freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, setting a new record for GW.

In his address, Trachtenberg spoke of the freedoms guaranteed to Americans and how those freedoms must translate into the world of higher education.

Students and faculty members must fight against the status quo, “even when the authority is 100 percent right,” Trachtenberg said.

“Think your own thoughts …and I’m expecting to hear from you and expecting you to give my successor a lot of trouble,” he added.

Martha Finnemore, a political science and international affairs professor, addressed students and told them that they knew many of the keys to success in Foggy Bottom: late-night pizza, Lindy’s burgers and coffee throughout the day.

She reflected on her college experience and told students to be free to experiment new things and to challenge themselves.

“One of GW’s real strengths is to connect your scholarly life with the city and with the world,” Finnemore said.

Stan Potolicchio, father of a freshman, enjoyed the ceremony. He said, “I think it was great advice; they all had something important to say.”

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