News and Analysis

GW signed off on final agreements with the Corcoran College of Art + Design Thursday. Hatchet File Photo.

GW signed final agreements with the Corcoran College of Art + Design on Thursday. Hatchet File Photo.

GW and the Corcoran College of Art + Design finalized their landmark merger Thursday, several days after a D.C. Superior Court judge approved the plans.

The deal, now complete after a month of hearings in D.C. court, will bring about 180 undergraduate students to GW. The Corcoran will no longer charge admission to its 17th Street gallery starting Friday, according to a release.

Corcoran students will continue to take classes, which start Aug. 27 for them, in the Corcoran’s building. They will also have access to GW services and facilities.

GW has offered housing to freshmen and sophomore Corcoran students in University residence halls, while juniors and seniors can choose to have their names placed on a wait list, according to the Corcoran’s website.

“These inaugural activities, as stated in the February partnership agreements, are just the beginning of the implementation of the agreements, which ensure that the historic building remains a showplace for art and a home for the Corcoran school and its programs, creating a global hub for the arts at GW,” the release from GW, the Corcoran and the National Gallery of Art read.

The National Gallery of Art, the third player in the merger, will renovate the second floor of the gallery, which will host exhibitions of modern art and works from the Corcoran’s collection, according to the release.

The gallery will close Oct. 1 for construction. GW will pay $25 million for initial renovations to the building, though total costs could eventually reach $80 million.

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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 6:52 p.m.

Mount Vernon’s ZeBi gets a new name

Unlike its old moniker, a Mount Vernon eatery’s new name has no allusion to male genitalia.

The Ames Hall venue ZeBi has changed its name to Zime, though its menu of flatbread sandwiches, salads and baked goods will remain the same. Amin Bonnah, an Arabic professor at GW, said he has a hunch about why food provider Sodexo wanted to change the name.

In most Arabic dialects, “Zebi” sounds like the word for “penis,” Bonnah said.

“Perhaps, someone was aware of the implication in Arabic of the first word, so they wanted to avoid that by changing the ‘B’ to ‘M,’” he said in an email.

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said the name change is part of Sodexo’s rebranding effort, but declined to answer further questions. Sodexo is changing the name ZeBi, which stands for Zest Bistro, at all of the shop’s locations.

ZeBi opened in Ames Hall in 2012 after the building underwent 18 months of renovations.

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The Corcoran merger with GW. Hatchet file photo.

D.C. Superior Court gave a green light to GW’s merger with the Corcoran on Monday. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

GW cleared a major legal hurdle Monday when a D.C. Superior Court judge approved the Corcoran’s merger with the University and the National Gallery of Art.

The judge ruled that the Corcoran could change its nonprofit charter, which will allow GW to absorb the art school and the National Gallery of Art to acquire the Corcoran’s 17,000 works of art, according to a joint press release from the three institutions.

The ruling ends a month-long legal battle with Save the Corcoran, an advocacy group made up of artists, Corcoran professors and students who tried to block the agreement and preserve the Corcoran’s independent status.

The court battle drew University President Steven Knapp to the courthouse to testify as lawyers pored over the Corcoran’s financial statements, fundraising history and GW’s role in absorbing the school.

“Today we take a dramatic step toward realizing a dynamic partnership that will safeguard the Corcoran legacy for generations to come,” Knapp said in the release.

The Corcoran has faced mounting financial troubles for decades, and GW has touted the merger as a way to save the reputable art school while boosting its own art programs.

Corcoran students will begin classes as GW students this fall and may have to complete GW’s general education requirements. They will continue to take classes in the Corcoran’s building, according to the release.

In court last month, Knapp said renovations to the Corcoran’s aging building on 17th street could top $80 million. The University has already committed $25 million for the first stage of upgrades – which will fix problems with heating, cooling and mechanical systems – starting in October.

GW has given full-time Corcoran professors one-year contracts, but about 150 part-time faculty and staff will lose their jobs once the partners implement the agreement.

Provost Steven Lerman wrote a letter to D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun in July pushing for a timely decision about the merger. Lerman said in the letter that a delay could impact enrollment and complicate efforts to provide financial aid.

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Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 12:27 p.m.

Robbery reported near GW Hospital

A man allegedly robbed another man of his wallet Saturday in the 2300 block of I Street.

The suspect, a 5-foot-10 black man between 55 and 60 years old, reportedly took the man’s wallet from his front pocket as he was sleeping on a park bench in the Eye Street Mall. The suspect was last seen walking toward Washington Circle at about 3:40 a.m., according to a GW Alert.

Campus and city police are searching for the suspect, who was wearing blue jeans, a white short-sleeved shirt and “possibly” a white hospital band and a blue hospital band on his wrist.

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Chuck Todd, a former GW student, will anchor NBC's Meet The Press show.

Chuck Todd, a former GW student, will anchor NBC show ‘Meet The Press.’ Public domain photo courtesy the United States Department of State.

A former GW student is taking over as the host of America’s longest-running Sunday morning news show.

Chuck Todd will replace David Gregory as the host of “Meet the Press,” Politico reported this week. Todd, a beltway insider, will begin steering the weekend roundtable as it faces flagging ratings and an audience that is wary of the D.C. establishment.

Todd will start in the high-profile position Sept. 7, NBC President Deborah Turness has said. Todd attended the University from 1990 to 1994 to study political science, but did not graduate.

He has previously served as the chief White House correspondent for NBC and also hosted “The Daily Rundown” on MSNBC. Todd will stay on as the political director for NBC News while hosting the show.

Last September, Todd visited GW Hillel to speak to students about the future of journalism and the influence of social media on reporting.

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The University added two social Greek chapters to its list of sanctioned student groups this summer, bringing the total to 17 Greek-letter organizations.

Kappa Alpha joins four other Greek chapters that GW has sanctioned for hazing since last December, according to the website. The chapter also faced sanctions for underage drinking, and is no longer in good judicial standing with the University.

Kappa Alpha received a townhouse on 22nd Street in February after the University booted Alpha Epsilon Pi from campus for hazing, drug violations, alcohol violations and causing thousands of dollars in damages to the townhouse.

In April, the University charged Pi Kappa Phi with hosting unregistered parties with alcohol. The group will be able to host a limited number of events with alcohol until the end of December, according to the website.

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt declined to provide details of the incidents or comment on whether Kappa Alpha would lose its townhouse. Hiatt also declined repeated requests to comment on Kappa Alpha hazing allegations in April.

Jesse Lyons, a spokesman for Kappa Alpha’s national organization, said in an email Wednesday that the organization “respectfully disagrees” with GW’s decision to sanction the entire chapter for hazing.

“While an individual or individuals may have been involved in hazing activities, Kappa Alpha Order does not support the University findings that the chapter was involved as an organization,” Lyons said.

The chapters’ presidents and Peyton Zere, the president of the Interfraternity Council, did not return requests for comment. Both chapters also received written warnings from the University.

GW has for months waited to provide details about hazing or misconduct in the Greek community, deferring to the list of sanctions that it published in May. The list, which names all sanctioned student organizations, does not provide details about the incidents that led to the sanctions.

Administrators directed freshmen to the list during Colonial Inauguration, when freshmen can attend a Greek Night to learn about the organizations and how to join in the fall.

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Students will soon be able get their fix of Captain Cookie at a permanent spot on campus.

Captain Cookie and The Milkman announced Friday on Twitter that the popular food truck will open a store in the Shops at 2000 Penn.

The store will serve its famous fresh-baked cookies and milk, as well as home-brewed sodas and milkshakes, according to the Twitter post. Captain Cookie will also offer late-night delivery.

Captain Cookie’s move in would follow the closure of Cone E. Island, Foggy Bottom’s only ice cream and frozen yogurt shop, which shut down after 27 years in the Shops at 2000 Penn. Cone E. Island’s owner has said he would try to reclaim the shop’s old space after GW rejected his bid to move into the Science and Engineering Hall.

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The Corcoran Galley of Art, on the corner of E and 17 streets, Hatchet File Photo.

A D.C. judge is set to make his decision on whether the Corcoran can change its charter, which would allow the art institution to hand over its college and 17th Street building to GW, next week. Hatchet File Photo

The Corcoran College of Art + Design revoked the job offer last week of a former adjunct professor who has helped lead an effort against the school’s merger with GW.

Jayme McLellan is the co-founder of the advocacy group Save the Corcoran, which has for months tried to block the art institution’s deal with GW and the National Gallery of Art. The chair of the school’s fine arts department had offered McLellan a position teaching a professional practices course this fall, but Corcoran director Peggy Loar took the offer back late last week, McLellan said in an email.

Corcoran spokeswoman Mimi Carter declined to comment, citing a policy to not discuss “individual personnel issues.”

McLellan said she had stopped teaching at the Corcoran two years ago, but was looking forward to returning after teaching the course at other schools. She had not yet received a contract from the Corcoran, though she said she had started teaching courses without a contract in past years.

McLellan said no other adjunct professors had received their contracts as of late last week. She wrote in her email that Loar revoked the offer “because of my activism.”

“Obviously, I thought that because of the court drama that I might not be able to teach the class but the Chair of Fine Arts was committed to my teaching it,” McLellan wrote. “It wouldn’t have been easy to teach there this semester but I felt that, and still feel, that it is important for me to be there.”

The school’s merger with GW depends on whether D.C. Superior Court allows the Corcoran to tweak its founding charter. The judge is set to make his decision, which would allow the Corcoran to hand over its art school and 17th Street building to GW, on Aug. 20.

The University has given full-time Corcoran professors one-year contracts, but about 150 part-time faculty and staff will lose their jobs after the merger.

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Updated: Aug. 14, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.

Two fraternities earned top honors at national conferences this summer.

This month, Sigma Chi earned the J. Dwight Peterson award for the fifth year in a row at a leadership conference, which considered details like the size of the fraternity and the success of its philanthropy. Beta Theta Pi also received two awards, including the national organization’s highest honor, at its conference.

Sigma Chi president Eric Estroff said the chapter’s success in philanthropy last year helped the fraternity win the award. Last fall, Sigma Chi raised more than $80,000 for cancer research through its philanthropy initiative “Derby Days,” and landed corporate sponsorships with companies like JetBlue Airways, Uber and L’Oreal.

“We made it more about the cause,” Estroff said. “At times, it was about raising the money and having a big party and some field games. We changed the way you looked at philanthropy.”

Sigma Chi spokesman Michael Church said $80,000 is among Sigma Chi’s highest philanthropy totals at a national level, and he said the GW chapter has shown a “consistent level of success” since it returned to campus six years ago. Church said Sigma Chi’s joint philanthropy effort with Sigma Phi Epsilon last spring also helped the chapter gain national recognition.

Beta Theta Pi earned the Knox and Sisson awards, which considered fraternity size, member GPAs and participation in leadership training.

The chapter’s president, Matt Zahn, said national awards can be a “good metric” for how a chapter is performing overall. It was the chapter’s first time earning a Knox award, the national organization’s top honor. The chapter has won Sisson awards six times.

“I’d say that national awards are a good way to assess how you’re doing and where it is that you need to improve. Different organizations pride themselves on different values and beliefs,” Zahn said in an email. “These awards are one way to measure how a chapter is doing in living and promoting these values on their campuses.”

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt declined to provide a list of other chapters on campus that earned awards this summer.

Did your chapter win a national award this summer? We want to know about it. Email us at

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that it was the sixth time Beta Theta Pi had won a Knox award. It was the first time the chapter had earned the award. The Hatchet also incorrectly spelled the name of the Sisson award. We regret these errors.

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President Stephen Knapp

University President Steven Knapp has said he would make sustainability a priority for GW. Hatchet File Photo

GW jumped more than 10 spots to No. 12 on the Sierra Club’s list of the most environmentally friendly colleges this year.

The leap follows a three-spot jump last year on the environmental non-profit’s annual list of the most sustainable colleges across the country. GW has surged 82 spots since 2009.

The organization ranks colleges using a survey that participating institutions complete, which evaluates areas like energy usage, academics, waste level and whether an institution uses innovative solutions for sustainability challenges. GW scored highly in planning, innovation and use of sustainable transportation, but low in making investments that promote sustainability and purchasing environmentally friendly goods, food or beverages.

The University of California-Irvine topped the list, while neighboring American University placed second.

University President Steven Knapp has made sustainability a top priority since GW was named one of the least sustainable universities a year after he arrived on campus.

This year, Knapp announced GW would sign on to the Real Food Challenge, which commits the University to ensuring one-fifth of all food in its dining halls will come from local and sustainable sources by 2020.

GW also announced a partnership with American University and GW Hospital in June to take more than half its energy from a solar power farm in North Carolina starting this winter.

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