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A University fundraising official will take his talents to the “real Mount Vernon,” as the new senior vice president for development at George Washington’s estate in Virginia, according to a release from the estate.

Joe Bondi, a two-time alumnus, most recently served as the assistant vice president for development, campus and community. Before that, he filled multiple positions in the development office in his 15 years as a GW employee.

“Bondi will join Mount Vernon’s management team in shaping the strategic direction for Mount Vernon’s future success,” the release reads. “He will oversee the planning and execution of the philanthropic strategy supporting the preservation and maintenance of George Washington’s beloved home.”

Bondi was a key player in the development office during the $1 billion capital campaign, which launched in 2014 and is expected to reach its goal this June.

He managed fundraising units like the Parents Campaign, GW Athletics, the GW Museum and Textile Museum, the GW Libraries and the Division of Student Affairs, as well as oversaw fundraising in the Power & Promise scholarship fund, The GW Hatchet, GW Hillel and veteran initiatives, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski tweeted last month congratulating Bondi on his new position.

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University President Steven Knapp signed onto an open letter to the Trump administration urging action on climate change. Hatchet File Photo.

University President Steven Knapp signed onto an open letter to the Trump administration urging action on climate change. Hatchet File Photo.

University President Steven Knapp joined more than 170 higher education leaders in signing an open letter urging President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress to take action on climate change.

In the letter, the leaders express their commitment to “academic and ethical responsibilities” to supporting research and education about climate change, and to take “aggressive climate action” to preserve the planet for future generations.

“We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans,” the letter reads.

The letter, which was penned by a group of university leaders in collaboration with the Boston-based climate change policy nonprofit Second Nature, calls on the incoming administration to support participation in the Paris Agreement, continue academic and federal research on climate, energy and related policies and to support investments in low-carbon economy.

“Your support for these three areas is a critical investment in the future of the millions of students we serve,” the letter reads. “We will continue to prepare graduates for the workforce as well as lead in world-class research and innovation in order to secure a healthier and more prosperous future for all.”

Tufts and New York universities are the only others of GW’s 11 peer schools who have signed the letter as of Dec. 20, although others can sign onto the letter until Jan. 13.

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Joseph Cordes, the chair of the Faculty Senate's fiscal planning and budget committee, said that the layoffs announced in May helped GW to improve its operating margin ahead of schedule. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Joseph Cordes, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s fiscal planning and budget committee, said that the layoffs announced in May helped GW to improve its operating margin ahead of schedule. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

GW’s operating surplus was higher than expected during fiscal year 2016, putting the University ahead of schedule on its five-year revenue projections.

Joseph Cordes, a professor of economics, public policy and administration and international affairs, and chair of the Faculty Senate’s fiscal planning and budgeting committee, said that the operating revenue increased by 3.7 percent from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2016, and the operating expenses decreased by 0.4 percent, leaving the University with a positive operating margin of $30,466.

This follows two consecutive years of operating at a deficit – in fiscal year 2015, the operating margin was at negative $12,484.

“We did achieve something which we haven’t for a while, we were almost balanced in terms of the total sources used,” Cordes said. “We’ve had negative operating margins for some years, that’s been a matter of some concern. Last year it flipped rather dramatically.”

He said that although operating margin is not the only indicator of financial performance, it is an important indicator of the University’s overall financial health, particularly to credit rating agencies. Both Moody’s and S&P have maintained stable ratings of the University.

“The bond rating agencies care about this,” Cordes said. “They always mention the University’s operating surpluses in their ratings reports and for the last couple of years they’ve been pointing out they haven’t been as strong as in prior years. So this is good news.”

Cordes said that lower expenditures in personnel costs because of layoffs and vacancies in positions were the primary cause of the positive operating margin.

“In the last fiscal year which closed in July, revenue grew by 3.7 percent,” Cordes said. “What’s more important is that expenses decreased by about four-tenths of a percent. The latter number reflects the efforts that all parts of the university have been making to reduce costs by leaving positions vacant or in some cases layoffs unfortunately.”

Officials began the first round of 3 to 5 percent budget cuts last fiscal year, and those cuts will continue each year for the next four years. Leaders announced in May the consolidation of several offices as part of the cuts, as well as the elimination of 40 positions in May 2016.

Rene Stewart O’Neal, the vice provost for budget and finance, said in an interview that when the University switched to a five-year revenue projection plan in 2014, administrators identified about $100 million in cuts that would need to be made over five years.

O’Neal said that although fiscal year 2016’s operating surplus means that some of these savings were achieved earlier than expected, cuts will still have to be made.

“The overall message is that the University’s finances are healthy,” O’Neal said. “We have challenges, but we have plans in place and strategies to meet those challenges.”

O’Neal said that many of the savings came from delays in hiring for vacant positions, a situation that cannot happen every year because those positions need to be filled in order to make progress on University initiatives. She said administrators will continue to be vigilant with various divisions in helping them identify the best ways to leverage currently available resources and to be very “intentional” when hiring for new positions.

“It’s wonderful that the budget expenses reflected the fact that those initiatives worked,” she said.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said in an interview that the operating surplus is partly a reflection of the positive effect that the new budget model has had on finances in the individual schools. Fiscal year 2016 was the first full year of a decentralized budget model for the University, placing more power in the hands of the individual schools and deans.

“Last year all of our schools ended up fiscally in a really good spot,” Maltzman said. “The reason we did okay last year was because everybody really met their expectations, and the new budget model definitely gave incentive for some of the schools to meet their own.”

Maltzman said that barring any “dramatic” shifts in enrollment or expenses, the University is generally on track with its financial projections for the next few years.

The budget for fiscal year 2017, which was approved in May by the Board of Trustees, projects that the operating surplus will be positive again, at $27,578.

Maltzman said that because increasing tuition and enrollment are not feasible options for increasing revenue, central offices will have to continue to find ways to cut costs over the next few years to maintain good financial health.

“It is very very clear also that there are all sorts of things that are on the horizon, and we have to be very mindful of our budget, we have to keep investing in new areas,” Maltzman said. “The innovation that we do going forward is going to have to depend upon people making difficult reallocation decisions.”

Cort Carlson contributed reporting.

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University President Steven Knapp was ranked 27th among the nation's highest-paid university executives. Hatchet file photo

University President Steven Knapp was ranked 27th among the nation’s highest-paid university executives. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp is the 27th highest-paid private university executive in the nation, according to the most recent data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This ranking is a three-spot drop from last year’s report, when Knapp was the 24th-highest earner.

The Chronicle’s database, which was updated Dec. 4 with salary information from fiscal year 2014, lists Knapp’s total compensation as $1,170,264, and his base salary, before benefits and bonuses, as $873,191. Knapp was listed among more than 1,200 chief executives at both public and private universities.

Knapp’s total compensation increased the following year to $1,196,264, a 7 percent increase, according to the University’s financial documents from fiscal year 2015.

Executives at nine of the University’s 14 peer schools earned more than Knapp in fiscal year 2014, according to the Chronicle.

The top private college earner was Jack Varsalona, president of the University of Wilmington in Delaware. Parsalona earned $5,449,405 in fiscal year 2014.

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AT&T donated $450,000 to GW to establish a politics and policy center dedicated to indigenous learning, according to Indian Country Today Media Network.

The AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy will be the University’s first center dedicated to indigenous learning, the release said. The gift was made in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

AT&T also sponsors the Native American Political Leadership Program, a full scholarship pre-college program open to Native American high school students.

Ali Eskandarian, the dean of the College of Professional Studies, said in the release that the establishment of the center displays the University’s commitment to diversity.

“We’re excited to establish a unique center in Washington, D.C. to study Native American politics and policy, and we are grateful for AT&T’s support,” Eskandarian said. “This is an important opportunity for the university in its continued commitment to diversity.”

The gift is part of AT&T’s more than $1 million donation to furthering education for Native American students. The company also donated $600,000 to the American Indian College Fund.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, the president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said in a release that the support from AT&T will help more students access high school diplomas and post-secondary education.

“American Indians face many unique challenges to getting an education,” she said. “And Native youth experience some of the lowest high school graduation rates nationwide.”

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Linda Livingstone, business school dean, said that a $4.8 million gift to fund a new professorship will enhance the future scholarship of the school. Hatchet file photo.

Linda Livingstone, business school dean, said that a $4.8 million gift to fund a new professorship will enhance the future scholarship of the school. Hatchet file photo.

A $4.8 million gift will fund a new professorship in the business school, the University announced Monday.

The release did not say who the donor was or what kind of professorship it will fund, but did state that the gift is a bequest from the donor’s estate.

Linda Livingstone, dean of the business school, said in the release that she is grateful for the generous gift and the impact it will have on the business school’s future.

“This endowed professorship will provide our outstanding faculty with significant resources as we continue to grow the body of meaningful scholarship and teaching excellence conducted at the GW School of Business,” Livingstone said in the release.

The gift will count toward the $1 billion fundraising campaign, which officials said earlier this year will meet its goal one year ahead of schedule. The release stated that more than 20 new endowed professorships have been established during the course of the campaign.

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Luann Barndt, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy alumna and Coast Guard retiree, spoke about the importance of women in the military during the Friday morning ceremony. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

Luann Barndt, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy alumna and Coast Guard retiree, spoke about the importance of women in the military during the Friday morning ceremony. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by reporter Leah Potter.

Members of the GW community honored veterans and current military members at the annual Veteran’s Day wreath-laying ceremony in Kogan Plaza Friday morning.

The GW NROTC Color Guard began the ceremony with the presentation of the colors, while the GW Troubadours sang the National Anthem to a crowd of about 30 people.

Attendees also heard from University President Steven Knapp and members of GW’s military community, which includes more than 1,700 veterans, ROTC and military family members.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. Dedication to veterans

The ceremony marked the end of the University’s veterans awareness week, which included other events like service projects with local elementary schools and a career services workshop.

Knapp highlighted some key moments in the University’s history of dedication to veterans, like becoming the first university in D.C. to join the Yellow Ribbon benefits program in April 2009.

The program, created by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, currently supports more than 1,800 veterans and their family members through the current GI Bill at GW, Knapp said.

Knapp credited the University’s veteran services program, GW VALOR, with helping to create a veteran-friendly environment.

“Two years ago, we sort of formalized the veterans service being offered through the University by launching operation GW VALOR,” Knapp said. “We are striving to be one of the nation’s most veteran friendly institutions.”

GW was ranked No. 31 on Military Times’ list of military-friendly universities this year.

2. Education after service

Adam Popp, a student veteran and the 2016 Pat Tillman Scholar, spoke about his experience pursuing a master’s degree after 12 years of military service.

Popp joined the Air Force in 1997 and served for 12 years before retiring as an improvised explosive device technician. After 19 years of working in the military community and earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology, Popp is currently pursuing his master’s degree in the hopes of becoming a rehabilitation counselor focusing on veterans with disabilities.

In addition to studying at GW, Popp holds positions with the Wounded Warriors Foundation and Team Red White and Blue and has earned an array of service medals.

Popp said that while members of the military are diverse, they are unified by common strengths and values.

“These service members we honor today come from all walks of life,” Popp said. “But they share several fundamental qualities. They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause much greater than ourselves.”

Popp also honored Pat Tillman, the namesake for Popp’s scholarship, who put his football career on hold in order to serve his country in the military.

“We weren’t selected because of our previous achievements, but rather our future potential to impact the community,” Popp said. “I know this potential exists in every veteran, and we challenge each of you to use the tools and skills the military gave you to continue to make an impact on your community.”

3. Women in service

Luann Barndt, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy alumna and Coast Guard retiree, discussed the progress women have made in the military with respect to equality and leadership. After earning her bachelor’s degree in science and three graduate degrees, Barndt is working on her dissertation in GW’s executive leadership program in human organizational learning.

Barndt said that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the decision to allow women to attend military academies in the U.S.

“Over the last 40 years, women have continued to make strides, and we’ve celebrated many firsts since that decision to allow women to attend military academies,” Barndt said. “And we continue to conquer those barriers as recently as 2015, with the first women to earn the coveted Army Ranger title – renowned as not being for the weak, or faint hearted.”

Barndt shared the story of two Coast Guard veterans that holds significant meaning to her, the first being Douglas Munro, who was the first and only member of the Coast Guard to receive the medal of honor.

Upon visiting Douglas Munro’s gravesite, Barndt and her family also noticed the gravesite of Edith Munro, Douglas’ mother. Barndt decided to research her story, and discovered that shortly after Douglas Munro received the medal of honor, Edith Munro accepted an appointment in the women’s reserve SPARS in 1943.

Though she was two decades older than the other 20-year-old SPARS that reported to the Coast Guard academy for training, Edith Munro led the way in training as well as in her service, Barndt said.

“As a Gold Star mother, she transformed her loss into significant service, and continued to serve the Coast Guard for over 50 years beyond her active duty spar service.” Barndt said. “So as a proud Coast Guard veteran, and more importantly a military mother, I’m so very grateful for Lt. Edith Munro, and everyone like her that blazed the trail for those of us who chose the non traditional military career path.”

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A gift from the Mayberg Foundation will fund a new center for Jewish education and professional leadership, a University release announced Thursday.

The Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership will be housed in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Center leaders will work with the Consortium for Applied Students in Jewish Education and the GSEHD master’s program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts to connect academic work with the work of Jewish organizations around the country, according to the release.

Michael Feuer, GSEHD dean, said in the release that the center will expand the school’s work to connect scholarship with community engagement.

“Pressing questions revolve around the meanings of Jewish identity, the role of formal and informal communal organizations and the future of ‘Jewish literacy,’” Feuer said.

Erica Brown, an associate professor of education and human development, was tapped to direct the center. In this position, Brown will design and teach courses, implement a research agenda, and lead the center in its efforts to provide graduate education, workshops and public programs, according to the release.

In addition to holding advanced degrees in education and Jewish studies, Brown has been a leader in many Jewish non-profit organizations, the release state.

Louis Mayberg, BBA ’83, and his wife, Manette Mayberg, created the Mayberg Foundation and provided the gift of an undisclosed amount, which will fund programming, academic and administrative expenses for the center and begin an endowment to ensure that its operations continue.

Louis Mayberg said in the release that his experience as a student under GW’s rigorous academic curriculum played an important role in his career. He also serves on GW’s Hillel Board of Trustees.

“The university’s track record and reputation make it the perfect home for this new center, designed to advance our foundation’s mission,” Louis Mayberg said.

Manette Mayberg added that the center brings a new dimension to the Mayberg Foundation’s contribution to the Jewish future.

“It aligns important elements of our philanthropic priorities,” she said in the release. “We anticipate tangible results and we are proud to partner with Erica Brown and GW.”

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University President Steven Knapp issued a statement Wednesday post-presidential election. Hatchet file photo

University President Steven Knapp issued a statement Wednesday post-presidential election. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to the U.S. presidential election results.

In the statement, Knapp told students to “maintain civility” and “celebrate our diversity,” after Republican Donald Trump was declared the election’s winner.

“A hallmark of our community is the civil discourse that takes place on our campuses every day,” Knapp said.

Knapp pointed to GW’s long-standing ranking as the most politically active campus in the U.S. and urged students to “set a national example in their ability to disagree passionately but without rancor,” according to the statement.

Knapp last issued a statement over the summer, in which he called for “sustained” dialogue about race on campus after national racially charged violence.

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The D.C. Council voted 11-2 in favor of advancing a bill that will give doctors the ability to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients, DCist reported Tuesday.

Oregon and California have passed similar laws that allow patients with less than six months to live to elect to take life-ending drugs. The bill outlines provisions against abusing the power by requiring two non-relative witnesses who can vouch that a patient’s decision is voluntary.

The bill will have to pass a second reading before making it to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk to sign it into law, according to DCist. Bowser has not yet taken a public stance on the bill.

The bill has been a topic of controversy within the Council since Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh introduced it last January. Cheh said she expected contention between some Council members, based on religious and moral beliefs.

“But there is latitude to recognize that all life is valuable while also respecting the rights and decisions of others,” Cheh said at the time.

Organizations like No D.C. Suicide have opposed the bill for religious reasons. But advocates for right-to-die legislation say that a bill like this will provide “dignity and a release from pain,” according to DCist.

The Council also unanimously passed the final reading of the Automatic Voter Registration Amendment Act, which will automatically register D.C. residents to vote or allow them to change their party affiliations when they obtain their IDs at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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