This post was written by staff writer Catherine Moran.
University President Steven Knapp addresses the Parents’ Association Advisory Council for the final time. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer
At his last address to the Parents’ Association Advisory Council Saturday morning, University President Steven Knapp discussed some of his accomplishments and parents’ roles on campus.
“I think parents are great ambassadors because you can speak to people in your communities about the experiences that your children are having here,” Knapp said.
This was the council’s last meeting, as the Division of Student Affairs introduces a new body for parent volunteers.
Here are some highlights from Knapp’s address:
1. Campus highlights
During the 45-minute conversation, Knapp highlighted the resume-worthy moments form his time at GW, ranging from the completion of building projects like District House, the Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Science and Engineering Hall.
He also mentioned the improvements in student safety and the “strong addition” of University Police Department Chief RaShall Brackney. He added that he is proud of the new food pantry in District House and an internship fund that provides financial support for students with unpaid internships.
“George Washington would not have imagined what this would become,” he said. “He couldn’t envision that, but we remain committed to educating civic leaders.”
2. Access and success
Knapp said that he hopes his legacy as University president will be increasing student support by building a sense of community on campus, centralizing student health services in the Marvin Center and revitalizing career services.
“Now, I’ve been talking about buildings, but I want to tell you that as much as we’ve been focused on building the University in all of these dimensions that I’ve been describing, we’re focused on making it possible for our students to succeed in all of their endeavors and to achieve their aspirations.” he said.
Knapp applauded the University’s growing inclusiveness and said this year is the “most diverse student body that we have ever had.”
“Our democracy can only succeed if the doors are not only actually but physically open to people coming from all communities across our country,” Knapp said.
Continuing to make new spaces for students helps to foster a sense of community on campus, he added. Foggy Bottom’s former dining hall J Street will become a student “living room.”
3. The importance of parents
Knapp emphasized the importance of parental involvement as a “source of connection” between the University and the rest of the world.
“I think we’ve had a great relationship with parents all the time I’ve been here,” Knapp said. “They are sometimes aware of things that we don’t hear about except from parents because students are telling their parents things that they aren’t necessarily telling me.”
Knapp has seen parents’ involvement increase over his years leading the University, especially by attending campus events, he said.
“Parents have become a really integral part of supporting the community,” he said.
4. Ending with a laugh
Knapp addressed the delay in opening permanent food vendors in District House and said he has an “addiction” to Peet’s Coffee – one of the future vendors – and he gets the coffee delivered to his house.
After the final parent’s question, Knapp interrupted the applause to share a regret from from his tenure as University president.
“One of the questions that we didn’t get to in the stack that I saw was things I’m most proud of and things I’m most disappointed about in the years I’ve been here,” Knapp said. “When it comes to disappointment, I do have one disappointment: That we have not yet made it in either men or women’s basketball to the Final Four.”