Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

President-elect Knapp may move into Alumni House

University President-elect Steven Knapp will likely live on campus in the Alumni House when he takes office this summer, University officials said.

The building, located at the corner of 20th and F streets, houses work space for alumni relations staff and has a common area for receptions and group events. Officials said the incoming president’s other option is moving into the University-owned house in the Kalorama neighborhood that University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg occupies.

Before becoming GW’s 16th president Aug. 1, Knapp continues to serve as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University. He has been coming to the Foggy Bottom area about once a week and working out of a GW office near 21st and K streets.

“We know it’s under serious consideration,” said Scott Mory, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, about Knapp’s deliberations over living in the Alumni House. He added that a decision would be made between now and the end of July.

The Alumni House would need to undergo significant renovations, Mory said, because the building does not have a full kitchen and isn’t ideal to support a family.

GW’s incoming president lives on a sheep farm in Sparks, Md., with his wife and two children, who are in their early 20s. A half-hour commute from Johns Hopkins, the farm has 15 sheep, two cats, an Australian shepherd dog, a rabbit, a parrot and fish.

Knapp, 55, did not comment because GW’s public relations officials have not allowed him to speak to the student press this year.

“We’re just trying to give him enough time to get up to speed here while being actively engaged at JHU,” Vice President of Communication Michael Freedman wrote in an e-mail. “And some of us feel it’s a little early still for him to be fully ‘out there’ while on his fast-track, high-end learning curve.”

The University acquired the Alumni House in 1974 – about 125 years after it was first constructed. Formerly the F Street Club, the building has served as a hang-out for several U.S. presidents and lawmakers throughout the 20th century.

Trachtenberg, who said he hadn’t heard if Knapp would move in to the building, said CIA Director Allen Dulles and President Harry Truman had a private meeting in the F Street Club. He recalled a story he heard about the two men deciding what the U.S. policy toward recognizing Israel would be when the state gained independence in 1948.

Having a University president live on campus is a real asset to the school, Trachtenberg said. “I just think it has a good texture to it, a good feel.”

GW’s outgoing leader lived on-campus while president of the University of Hartford, but chose to live outside Foggy Bottom when he moved to D.C. He said he wanted to be “protective” of his 10- and 13-year-old sons, whom he thought shouldn’t grow up across from Thurston Hall.

Trachtenberg has spent his presidency living in a University-owned house on Bancroft Place N.W. near Embassy Row, which is about two and a half miles from campus. According to D.C. records, the 5,579-square-foot building was assessed at just under $3 million. After leaving the house, Trachtenberg plans to move to a home in the same neighborhood.

Freedman said this home is the alternative to the Alumni House if Knapp decides not to live there. He added that moving on campus would be “an awesome opportunity for the whole community.”

Although Knapp might have a more accessible presence than Trachtenberg, some students said, they also added that they were unsure if the home’s proximity to underclassman residence halls would be beneficial.

“I think it would be good – especially for freshmen because he’d be right there and they could go talk to him if they wanted to,” freshman Stuart Grimes said while walking near the Alumni House. “I think it would be hard for him because there would be kids around all the time making noise, and if people are upset with him it would be bad.”

-Eric Roper contributed to this report.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet