News and Analysis

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:06 p.m.

Local AIDS research launches with seminar series

This month the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, also known as DC CFAR, celebrated their launch with the first speech of their “City-Wide Seminar” series.

Anthony Fauci was the first featured speaker with his seminar “Ending the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: An Achievable Goal.” He currently serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci was also an honorary degree recipient at Commencement last spring.

“The DC CFAR is going to play a major role in what I am absolutely certain is an achievable goal, and that is the ending of the AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C.,” Fauci said.

The DC CFAR is the first of its kind in D.C. About 680 new HIV cases were diagnosed in 2014, according to the D.C. Department of Health.

Video by Blair Guild

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 9:11 p.m.

D.C. hits federal requirement for air quality

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Henry Klapper.

The D.C. area now meets federal standards for the amount of ground-level ozone in the air, the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments announced Tuesday.

The Washington Metropolitan COG, a regional association of cities and municipalities, said this past summer was one of the lowest for ozone pollution in the area, marking a downward trend in the area’s overall air pollution. The COG said this finally puts the District in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 Ozone Standard for days exceeding unsafe levels of pollutants.

Only five days this past summer exceeded the EPA’s Ozone Standard at more than 75 parts per billion. Since 1997 and up until 2009, at least 20 days during the summer exceeded the standard. The highest day scientists recorded was in 1998 when the city saw 67 unsafe pollutant days, the release said.

Metropolitan Air Quality Committee Chairman David Snyder said in the release that it’s “a major achievement that will protect the health of our region’s residents including those that are most sensitive.”

High levels of ground-level ozone can cause serious health problems to people like the elderly, young children and those with respiratory or heart conditions. The colorless gas is created when air pollutants react during hot weather.

Snyder added in the release that the milestone of environmental progress is “a testament to more than a decade of actions at the federal, state and local government levels.”

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:45 a.m.

GW adds 2016 fall break

GW students will have a fall break in 2016, according to the academic calendar.

GW added the break, Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, 2016, to the academic calendar Tuesday morning. Student Association Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U, who has helped to lead the push for the break, said the University approved the addition of a fall break to the academic calendar last week.

The change comes after nearly a year of discussion in the Student Association Senate. Falcigno said he and Sen. Alyssa Weakley, SoB-U, researched schools similar to GW and discovered that many of them included fall breaks in their calendars.

“We also found that there’s an uptick of people who visit [counseling services] in October,” Falcigno said. “It’s good for mental health, it’s an opportunity to go home and rest if possible.”

Falcigno added that he and Weakley were part of the University group which creates the calendar, which also includes representatives from the Office of the Registrar, the Center for Student Engagement and some faculty. He said this was the first time in recent memory that students were part of the committee.

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:25 a.m.

Class of 1965 wins donation challenge

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brigid Godfrey.

With 18 percent partiticaption, the Class of 1965 donated the most to the University in a two-day fundraising blitz, according to a University release.

In honor of Alumni Weekend, an anonymous donor offered to give $25,000 to the University in honor of the class whose members donated the most during the weekend. Eleven classes competed for the added donation. The release does not say how much GW received overall during Alumni Weekend.

Jeremy Gosbee, the president of the Alumni Association, said he wasn’t shocked by the class’ victory.

“It’s not a big surprise that the class of 1965 ended up winning. The 50th anniversary is sort of a milestone reunion for our alumni,” Gosbee said in an interview. “We usually see more participation in the reunion itself with the 50th anniversary class.”

The Class of 1965 was followed closely by the Class of 2014, with 14 percent of its students donating. Gosbee said the Senior Class Gift Campaign, which raised nearly $130,000 last academic year, has gotten the students in the swing of donating.

“The Senior Class Gift program has been growing year after year over the past several years, and so I’m excited to see that people who just recently graduated and most likely participated in the Senior Class Gift continue to give to the University, that’s a really positive sign for the future,” Gosbee said.

Experts have said that the Senior Class Gift campaign, whose participation rate goal increased to 62 percent of students this year, helps students understand the benefits of giving back to the University. The campaign is part of a push from fundraising officials to engage current students and young alumni in fundraising.

The fundraising challenge during Alumni Weekend will bring GW closer to its $1 billion goal, which University President Steven Knapp said last week has raised more than $800 million.

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Eighty U.S. colleges and universities announced plans to reform their respective admissions processes Monday.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, a new group formed by the 80 institutions, aims to personalize the college application process so that high school students are well-informed about their options before senior year.

GW is not part of the coalition, though Inside Higher Education reported that the 80 institutions expect other schools to join them. The coalition includes all eight Ivy league institutions, top public schools like nearby University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Michigan, and nearly half of GW’s peer institutions like Duke and Emory universities.

The coalition is open to public schools with “affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents,” Inside Higher Education reported, as well as private schools with “sufficient” financial aid packages.

Some private schools in the group are, like GW, “need aware” meaning that those schools do take into account a student’s financial need when making acceptance decisions

Six of the University’s 14 peer schools, including Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern University, are part of the group, which said will focus on changing high school’s portfolios, interacting with potential applicants more early and often and creating a new application system.

The group will facilitate a free program in which high school students will start a portfolio in the ninth grade to showcase their best work over the next four years. The participating institutions also pledged to connect with high school students earlier and to provide feedback on portfolios as early as ninth grade.

The coalition will also start a new online application system that relies more heavily on work applicants did in high school, Inside Higher Education reported. The Common Application, which serves as the main application for more than 600 colleges, including GW, faced criticism in 2013 when its system crashed.

High school transcripts and standardized test scores will still have to be submitted by applicants. GW’s undergraduate application process became test-optional optional in July after University President Steven Knapp’s task force on access and success, which he created last year, recommended the change.

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Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 9:58 a.m.

Alumni meet students at networking reception

Assistant Provost for Career Services Rachel Brown spoke at the student-alumni networking session on Friday. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Photographer

Assistant Provost for Career Services Rachel Brown spoke at the student-alumni networking session on Friday. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Andrew Goudsward

Updated: Sept. 28, 2015 at 10:57 a.m.

More than 150 students and alumni packed two back rooms Alumni House Friday afternoon for a new addition to the alumni weekend calendar: a networking reception.

Alumni Association President Jeremy Gosbee said the reception, a collaboration between the Alumni Association and the Center for Career Services, was added to alumni weekend to further the association’s mission of “Colonials helping Colonials.”

“We wanted to make students aware that alumni were a potentially valuable resource, and also show alumni that students are eager to meet them,” he said.

About 80 alumni volunteered to network with 120 students, who registered through the Center for Career Services. All participants were asked to put on colored stickers to indicate areas of career interest, including industries like health services, engineering and technology and U.S. government.

Gosbee added it was a “great opportunity” to find candidates for jobs at the public relations firm where he works.

“It’s always great getting Colonials involved,” he said.

Alumnus Elliot Bell-Krasner said volunteering at the reception was a way to “give back” to the University.

“When I was at GW, some of my most valuable conversations were with alums, and when I heard about LinkedIn, the first people I send out invitations to were alumni,” he said, “Now whenever I got a request from a GW student, I accept it because I know what that’s like.”

At the reception, Bell-Krasner, a program officer at the nonprofit American Council of Young Political Leaders, chatted with a group of students from China about the work his organization had done in that country.

“GW isn’t a school known for school spirit with its sports teams, but here we are on a Friday afternoon, the weather is miserable, and there’s 150 people packed in here,” he said, “There will be a conversation here today that leads directly to a job.”

At the event, Assistant Provost of the Center for Career Services Rachel Brown and Jeff Fair, an Alumni Association board member, also gave speeches to the students and alumni in Alumni House.

Brown discussed of the importance of “the art of introducing yourself” and feeling comfortable talking to strangers.

Fair, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, talked about the importance of the student-alumni relationship. He shared a memory of several GW students studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea in 2013 – a moment of high tension with North Korea.

“My wife and I had them over, made some home-cooked American food and discussed the situation,” he said. “I’ve stayed in contact with several of those students.”

The reception came as more than 2,000 alumni were arriving on campus for four days of programming associated with Alumni Weekend.

Alumnus Christopher Pitre, who works at Digital Marketing agency in Houston, said the event and the whole weekend was a way to reconnect with the University through its students.

“Even though faces have changed, I’ve seen that the things that define GW are still the same,” he said.

Experts have often said that a successful alumni weekend can be a chance for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater – a tie that could potentially lead to donations.

For Sarah Cummings, a first year graduate student studying public health and marketing, a connection with an alumnus reminded her the importance of creativity in her career and even breaking the rules everyone once in awhile.

“I think it helps us learn from them,” she said. “I can keep in touch and if I have questions in the future and I can call say ‘Hey remember me, we meet at the alumni house that one afternoon.’”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Travis Hahn.

GW’s Alumni Association celebrated the achievements of former students and announced University’s new fundraising total at an awards event Thursday.

Officials have hosted the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards event since 1937 to highlight the work of alumni. University President Steven Knapp said at the event that alumni who were honored have been working to improve society.

“Universities contribute to society in a wide variety of ways – through our research, through our service activities – but the product we give to the nation and the world that is more important than anything else is our alumni,” Knapp said at the event.

Here are the key points from the night.

1. $800 million raised

In his opening remarks, Knapp announced that the University has raised more than $800 million toward its $1 billion campaign. Knapp said in an interview last month the campaign total had reached $791 million, meaning roughly $10 million has been raised in the past month.

The announcement ffollows the University’s most-successful fundraising year in history, where officials raised about $230 million.

2. Professional and graduate school alumni dominate awards

All five alumni who received awards were graduates of one of GW’s graduate schools or The College of Professional Studies.

Award recipients include Richard Heideman and Gregory Williams, who both graduated from GW Law School in 1971 and 1972, respectively. Williams also holds a master’s of philosophy and a Ph.D, the only award winner with three degrees from GW.

Christyl Johnson, who graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences with a doctoral degree in 2012, won an award for her work as the deputy center director for technology and research investments at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Award winner Elad Levy, who received his medical doctorate in 1997, is now a chairman and professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and is one of the youngest tenured professors in the history of SUNY, according to GW’s alumni website.

3. ’30 under 30′

Jay Kaplan, who received his undergraduate degree in 2008 and stayed to receive a master’s in 2009, received the Recent Alumni Achievement Award. Kaplan received both of his degrees from SEAS, and now works as the chief executive officer and founder of Synack, a company that “leverages a global hacker network to uncover potential attack-vectors” in large business, according to GW’s alumni website.

David Dolling, the dean of SEAS, said at the event that Kaplan was also named one Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30” in enterprise technology.

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Starting next month, GW will be the new host of the Institute for Infrastructure Protection.

This national consortium will address cybersecurity challenges by bringing together multidisciplinary teams to analyze the issues, according to a University release.

Dartmouth University founded the Institute for Infrastructure Protection, or I3P, and has hosted it since 2002.

Diana Burley, a professor of human and organizational learning in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, will be I3P’s new executive director and chair. She said that I3P will raise GW’s profile in research education. About two dozen other institutions are also part of the institute.

“GW already has a considerable amount of research in cybersecurity and this will add to that, it compliments our existing efforts,” Burley said.

Burley said that GW was chosen through a competitive proposal process that picked the institution best able to advance the institute’s agenda. She said GW’s location will help officials “work with legislators, industry, government,” and helped GW win the bid to host the institute.

The University will manage the Institute with SRI International, a nonprofit, independent research institute. Burley said the lead partner at SRI, Zach Tudor, will help in focusing research efforts and “spearheading the research development work.”

“He will be helping to make sure that the projects we bring in are a good fit for the I3P and that we are able to manage the collective resources and expertise of our member institutions,” Burley said.

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The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser's suggestion for $23 million in additional spending Tuesday.  Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Photographer

The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s suggestion for $23 million in additional spending Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo by Jamie Finkelstein.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kendrick Chang.

In its first legislative session in a month, the D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for $23 million to be added to the budget and passed legislation directed at crime prevention, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

When Bowser requested the additional funding last week, several D.C. Council members, including Chairman Phil Mendelson, asked for more details, enough of which were provided Tuesday for the Council to unanimously pass the legislation.

The funds would include funding for body cameras on police officers and expand employment assistance for young people in D.C. according to The Post. Of the additional funding, nearly half will go towards improving D.C.’s crime lab and the police body cameras.

Kenyan McDuffie, a Ward 5 Council member who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also proposed a crime prevention bill that would identify at-risk youth in the city and give them access to programming that could prevent them from entering a criminal lifestyle.

“What’s clear is we cannot arrest our way out of this crime problem,” McDuffie said.

Jack Evans, the Ward 2 Council member who represents Foggy Bottom, introduced a bill that would use funds to keep at least 4,000 police officers in the Metropolitan Police Department, which he said currently only has 3,800 officers.

Evans also introduced another bill that would require police officers, public school teachers and firefighters to live in the District, because about 80 percent of those employees live outside the city, Evans told The Post. He said this would be a way to keep D.C. tax money in the city, and said he will likely face backlash from teacher’s associations and other groups for the bill.

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Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 10:17 p.m.

Photo blog: Pope Francis visits D.C.

Unless you’re under a rock, you probably didn’t miss the fact that Pope Francis is in town. He arrived yesterday at Andrews Air Force Base and was greeted by President Barack Obama and his family. After completing his three-day visit in D.C., which includes a mass at Catholic University of America and a speech to Congress, he will head off to New York City and Philadelphia.

We were at the papal parade this morning when Pope Francis rode by in a signature popemobile:


Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he rides the popemobile from the White House on Wednesday morning. Mimi D’Autremont | Hatchet Photographer


Thousands of people lined the sidewalks of Constitution Avenue to see Pope Francis during the parade. Mimi D’Autremont | Hatchet Photographer


President Barack Obama invited Pope Francis to the White House Wednesday morning for a ceremony, welcoming him to the United States. The son of immigrant parents, the pope said he was honored to be in a country built by immigrants. Mimi D’Autremont | Hatchet Photographer


Police and security sectioned off areas of Northwest D.C. in preparation for the pope’s visit. Mimi D’Autremont | Hatchet Photographer

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