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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

A presidential summer: Knapp travels country, world

While most students were well into their summer vacations, University President Steven Knapp was spending his three and a half months off traveling, speaking and organizing, often on behalf of GW.

“A University presidency is certainly no longer a nine-month job, if it ever was!” Knapp joked in an e-mail to The Hatchet.

Shortly after Commencement, Knapp visited The Hague with a delegation from the law school to recognize the retirement of Tom Buergenthal, who had served on the International Court of Justice for the last 10 years. Buergenthal will be joining the GW community as the Lobinger professor of comparative law and jurisprudence this fall.

Knapp then delivered the Commencement Ceremony keynote speech at Al Akhawayn University, a GW partner institution in Morocco.

“This was probably my most fascinating and informative experience this summer, because Morocco is such an amazing crossroads of African, Arab, and European culture,” he said.

He also attended a public and community service conference in New York City, where he spoke about university outreach to veterans.

On campus, Knapp helped greet new students during Colonial Inauguration, as well as welcome a new provost, police chief and three deans to campus.

He also introduced President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, a country where GW has “significant projects focused on building democratic institutions, developing a sustainable tourism industry, and battling neglected tropical diseases,” Knapp said.

For those students who call GW home year-round, Knapp held summer office hours for the first time this year.

“As for my own summer plans, there is no question that they are built around University priorities, events, and opportunities,” he said, adding that the summer months are useful for scholarly writing and long-term planning for the University.

In addition to spending some leisure time at his farm in Maryland, Knapp attended a leadership retreat with the Board of Trustees, deans, vice presidents and heads of advisory councils to collaborate on plans for the University’s future.

“This was my third annual opportunity to engage in extended discussions of the university’s future with the trustees and other key volunteer leaders who care deeply about GW’s aspirations and opportunities,” he said.

Much of Knapp’s summer agenda reflected GW’s priorities for the fall semester.

“As usual, we have a great deal in the works,” he said.

The Innovation Task Force, the Council on Diversity and Inclusion and the Career Services Task Force spent the summer working toward their respective goals, planning future activities and solidifying their structures, he said. The three task forces were created last year at Knapp’s request to identify and promote fundraising and efficient spending opportunities, expand GW’s appeal to students and employees of diverse backgrounds and refine GW’s career services program, respectively. Students and professors in different departments will also continue to work on “cross-cutting initiatives” on autism, sustainability and the global status of women, Knapp said.

The University will also expand its focus on the arts as new student venues open on the Mount Vernon Campus, a sentiment echoed in the new memorandum of understanding signed by Knapp and Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. The new agreement will “significantly strengthen the 100-year partnership between our two institutions,” he said.

He also said GW will continue the commitment to service, with an emphasis on sustainability, that was generated by first lady Michelle Obama’s Commencement Challenge last year. u

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