News and Analysis


Steven Knapp

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 3:21 p.m.

GW to announce new president

GW will announce the next University president at 4 p.m. Friday, according to a post on GW’s official Facebook page.

The announcement, which will be made live on Facebook, comes a little more than six months after the search for the University’s 17th president began. University President Steven Knapp said in June that he will be stepping down from his post at the end of this academic year.

Follow The Hatchet on our site and on Twitter at @gwhatchet for live updates.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
University President Steven Knapp was one of more than 180 university presidents who showed support for undocumented students in a letter released Monday. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp was one of more than 180 university presidents who showed support for undocumented students in a letter released Monday. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp joined more than 180 other university presidents nationwide in a letter supporting a program that prevents the deportation of young undocumented citizens.

The group of presidents signed the letter in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program exempts children who entered the country before their 16th birthday or before June 2007 from deportation – meaning many of those impacted by the legislation are of college age.

The letter – part of an effort first started by Pomona College – supports the continuation and expansion of DACA and urges leaders to do so as well.

“This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity,” the document reads. “America needs talent—and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

The University does not require applicants to disclose their immigration status and is “committed to supporting” DACA students, according to its website on undocumented student enrollment. Students and experts say they are concerned about the impact of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies on immigration, like the deportation of all undocumented citizens, on the existing international student body and how it could affect enrollment for those students in future years.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 10:09 p.m.

GW to aid hurricane victims in Haiti

GW will provide relief to Hurricane Matthew victims in Haiti, according to a University release Monday.

Faculty and officials have expressed interested in responding to the emergency in Haiti, Doug Shaw, the senior associate provost for international strategy, said in the release. Shaw will coordinate the University’s aid efforts.

“GW has world-class expertise and a unique platform to help focus global attention on the recovery effort,” Shaw said in the release.

About 900 people have died after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti last week, and about 500,000 Haitians are reportedly stranded in the south of the country. Cholera, an acute diarrheal illness, has also begun to break out in the country’s coastal areas.

GW has assisted Haiti in recovering from previous natural disasters: After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that left more than 300,000 people dead, GW worked with Elisabeth Delatour Préval, the then-first lady of Haiti and a School of Business alumna. Préval later attended two GW symposiums about Haiti’s reconstruction.

University President Steven Knapp said in the release that after 2010’s earthquake, the GW community responded by offering humanitarian aid in a “multi-pronged approach.” Students raised more than $9,000 for disaster relief and organized a candlelight vigil and letter-writing event, according to the release. Officials also sent emergency medical and nursing personnel to Haiti.

“The hurricane has further and tragically complicated the country’s ongoing recovery efforts from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake,” Knapp said. “Our collaboration has been ongoing, and Dr. Shaw will ensure that, once again, the University’s response is appropriate and effective.”


  • Permalink
  • Comments

The largest-ever single pledged gift to the School of Media and Public Affairs will fund an endowed professorship dedicated to accountability journalism, according to a University release.

Char Beales, a ’73 alumna and chair of the National Council for Media and Public Affairs, and her husband Howard Beales, the chair of the department of strategic management and public policy in the business school, pledged the $3.2 million endowed gift to SMPA through a bequest commitment from their estate.

Char Beales is the former president and CEO of of the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing and is also a member of the Board of Directors for CTAM-Europe. Last year she helped to organize the school’s Silver Anniversary, setting fundraising goals and inviting alumni to the final event.

The Char Beales Endowed Professorship of Accountability in Journalism will be dedicated to the study and teaching of accuracy, accessibility and accountability in journalism.

“As a veteran media executive, Ms. Beales recognized the importance of maintaining high standards of accuracy and accountability in journalism, which has been made more challenging by the low barriers of entry for news outlets and the openness of the internet,” the release said.

University President Steven Knapp said in the release that the values of accuracy and accountability are key components of preserving democracy.

“We are deeply grateful to Char and Howard for their commitment to George Washington and their extraordinary generosity in making this splendid gift to the School of Media and Public Affairs,” Knapp said. “Accuracy and accountability in journalism are essential to the preservation of our democracy, and this new professorship will ensure that those values are studied and taught in the heart of our nation’s capital.”

Frank Sesno, the director of SMPA, said in the release that the Beales’ donation will support future generations of students and journalists at the school.

“The Beales Professorship is a tremendous expression of Char’s deep commitment to the future of journalism, GW and the School of Media and Public Affairs,” Sesno said. “It is an investment in the country itself because holding the powerful to account is a pillar of journalism and central to our democracy.”

Char Beales said that she and her husband hope the gift will motivate others to donate to the school.

“SMPA is on a trajectory to be a top-tier media school, and more support will make that happen more quickly,” Beales said. “We want this gift to inspire others to join us in supporting the university and SMPA.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

GW has selected a national firm to assist in the search for the University’s next president, according to a release.

Members of national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller will help facilitate the university’s search for its 17th president. Isaacson, Miller will identify a “qualified and diverse pool of candidates” and advise the search committee throughout the recruitment process, the release stated.

“Isaacson, Miller has an extensive record of recruiting exceptional leaders,” Madeline Jacobs, the chair of the presidential search committee, said in the release. “The committee looks forward to their expertise throughout the search process.”

Isaacson, Miller is the largest higher education executive search practice in the country. The firm has led searches for presidents, chancellors and deans at many top universities and colleges, including Bowdoin College and Vanderbilt University, according to its website.

University President Steven Knapp, who came to GW in 2007, will leave at the end of July 2017, after deciding not to renew his second five-year contract. The Board of Trustees announced the launch of the presidential search process in June with a 19-member search committee.

Forums will be held in the fall for members of the GW community to give feedback to the presidential search committee and Board of Trustees, according to the release. The new president is expected to be announced this upcoming spring.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Reverend Laura Cunningham speaks at the interfaith service at the Western Presbyterian Church. Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Reverend Laura Cunningham speaks at the interfaith service at the Western Presbyterian Church. Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Graduates, faculty, families and friends gathered at the Interfaith Baccalaureate Service Saturday at the Western Presbyterian Church to speak about how faith has shaped their GW experience.

Reverend Laura Cunningham, the pastor at the Western Presbyterian church, opened the ceremony by welcoming the GW community and expressing her gratitude for the close relationship the church has maintained with GW.

“In our 160 years of service this is a church that has been excited by any connections to GW, to the point that I am a little surprised that one of these banners doesn’t say ‘Go colonials,’ “ Cunningham said.

1. Thanking faith

Chaplain Meraj Allahrakha, the community adviser of the GW Muslim Student Association who received his master’s from GW in 2010, thanked God for all those involved in helping the graduates pursue their education and maintain their faith in college.

“Oh God we thank you and remember you for allowing us to wake up at 8AM get to those classes,” Allahrakha said. “We thank you for all the friends that you have allowed for us to meet here on this journey for they are supports and pillars in this sink hole of faith that sometimes we refer to as college.”

Reverend Adam Park, the chaplain at the Newman Student Center, said the achievements of the graduates are a great reason to celebrate and that although the process was not always easy, it makes graduation even more significant.

“We celebrate these achievements because we recognize that it wasn’t always an easy process there were some trying moments to endure but it is precisely because of those moments that make this occasion today even more special,” Park said.

2. Finding yourself

Student speaker Elina Mir, the vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said that when she first came to GW she had no desire to outwardly express her faith. She said her high school lacked diversity and treated her badly for her Muslim faith.

“Because of my experience I came to college not wanting to be open about my muslim identity,” Mir said. “I am thankful for everyone at GW for creating an atmosphere of tolerance.”

Mir said that finally getting involved with the Muslim Student Association and the GW community helped her grow and be more open about her faith.

Student speaker Thomas Pacer, a member of GW Catholics, said he was a transfer student from a small Catholic university and that when he came to GW it was the “polar opposite.” He said when it was tough for him to make friends and succeed at GW’s NROTC program, it was hope and faith that got him through.

“Hope requires trust,” Pacer said. “This choice to trust and hope is what allows us to realize the true joy found in faith. Such faith gave me the hope that even in hard times I was surrounded by immeasurable goodness.”

Student speaker Hannah Schaeffer, a member of the Jewish Students Association, said graduation reminded her of her bat mitzvah. She said that both crucial times in her life have made her think about herself and her faith.

“To grapple with who you are and what you believe in is a powerful exercise and very quickly became a reoccurring theme over my years at GW,” Schaeffer said.

3. Finding your light

Student speaker Laura Porter, a member of GW SPEAK, said she never imagined standing in front of this audience today. She said Saturday is her 2,087th day at GW and that another important number to her is 1,291, the number of days she has lived in sobriety.

“Always remember the light from knowing that you are and always will be a part of a community,” Porter said. “A community of friends, mentors, and teachers, a community that shines so bright it could be only at GW.”

Student speaker Michael Massaroli said that when he was six years old, he lost his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that when the community came to support his family, he knew he wanted to give back. He said the greatest thing he has learned at GW is how to devote himself to helping others.

“I knew that I wanted to devote my life to giving back to the communities that were so selfless in supporting our family in this time of tragedy,” Massaroli said. “I have seen so many things from so many people at GW that will make me an immeasurable better man than I was before I started college.”

4. An accepting community

Student speaker Andie Dowd, former president of the Student Association, said that she learned from her time at GW the importance of the freedom and right to practice any religion one chooses.

“I owe so much of my experience to those who have welcomed me into the GW community with open arms,” Dowd said.

University President Steven Knapp concluded the ceremony by praising the profound impact that student leaders have on the GW community. He said the religious community has a unique identity and open spirit.

“I express our thanks and admiration for what you and the Class of 2016 have achieved,” Knapp said. “I pray that the power of imagination and the spirit of compassion that have guided you through your four years with us will never leave you but will continue to shape your lives.”

Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at:

  • Permalink
  • Comments

University President Steven Knapp speaks at an Earth Day event in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

University President Steven Knapp speaks at an Earth Day event in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet assistant news editors Andrew Goudsward and Avery Anapol

Flanked by pro-Fossil Fuel Divestment demonstrators, University President Steven Knapp spoke about the University’s commitment to sustainability Tuesday at the annual Earth Day Fair.

The sustainability office hosted the event and and featured representatives from green student organizations like Green GW and the GroW Garden, as well as outside vendors, including Zipcar.

About 30 protesters from Fossil Free GW gathered in response to the University’s decision last month to not divest from fossil fuels. Frank Fritz, the protest organizer and Fossil Free GW founder, said the group organized the silent demonstration to express their “frustration with the University that they are consistently betting against our future.”

“Every dollar invested in a coal company is a bet against our future,” Fritz said. “Every time GW wants to talk about sustainability we will talk about their fossil fuel investments.”

The protesters held up banners on both sides of the podium during Knapp’s speech. They wore white t-shirts printed with “Knapping on climate change.”

Fritz called Knapp’s efforts to combat climate change “wholly inadequate.”

During his remarks, Knapp highlighted the University’s efforts on sustainability in dining, construction, academics and government.

“We don’t always take the same approach to the problem we are trying to solve,” he said, gesturing to the protesters surrounding him. “That’s healthy in a university like this. We have debate, we have dialogue.”

Knapp touted the University’s efforts to get half of all its electricity from renewable sources, constructing energy efficient residence and academic halls, creating a sustainability minor and pledging to make sure one-fifth of food from University’s dining facilities locally and grown and sustainable by 2020.

“We are aspiring to be a model of urban sustainability,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of signs of that this year and in the recent years in terms of what we have accomplished.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
University President Steven Knapp spoke about how D.C. area universities can better contribute to the area's economy at a Metropolitan Washington Council of Government meeting Wednesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp spoke about how D.C. area universities can better contribute to the area’s economy at a Metropolitan Washington Council of Government meeting Wednesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: Feb. 11 at 9:56 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Robin Eberhardt and Yueding Wang.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments agreed to set up a task force that will include a group of D.C. area universities in discussions on how to increase economic growth in the region.

The regional government group discussed ways to improve economic development in the D.C. metropolitan area at the council’s Board of Directors meeting Wednesday afternoon. University President Steven Knapp and John Cavanaugh, the president and CEO of the Consortium of Universities in the Washington Metropolitan Area, spoke at the meeting about how D.C. area universities contribute to the area’s economy.

Knapp, who was named chair of the consortium’s Board of Trustees over the summer, asked the metropolitan government to more effectively utilize university resources to improve economic development in the region.

Here are the main points of the the discussion:

1. Universities are key to the D.C. economy

Knapp said universities in the consortium contribute $15 billion to the area’s economy. He said students coming from outside the region and from other counties are forms of export because they pay for tuition and living expenses in the area and increase tourism revenue in D.C.

“Two-thirds of students who attend consortium universities are not from the D.C. region prior to enrollment, which itself is an important economic growth because they spend money as soon as they arrive there,” Knapp said.

Knapp said GW also contributes to the region’s economy by participating in the D.C. I-Corps program, which to trains scientists on how to better make their inventions into successful products for real customers.

“We’re turning that around and getting the scientists speaking in advance to potential customers,” he said.

Roger Berliner, the chair of the regional council, asked for the consortium to pay more attention to community colleges with large student populations, instead of focusing on private D.C. institutions.

“From our perspective, I have to say when we look at the economic development, and work opportunities in particular, it is the community colleges that we’re asking to step up to do this very important work,” Berliner said.

2. Lifting enrollment caps

Knapp said the maximum enrollment and employment caps in D.C. limits the productivity universities could have in creating and marketing inventions. He mentioned the opening of the Science and Engineering Hall more than a year ago, and said that if the caps were lifted, more employees and students could capitalize on GW’s resources and add to D.C.’s economy.

“If we can get those caps lifted, we can bring more graduate students in here who would help produce more inventions,” Knapp said. “I can tell you that would be an economic engine for this city and for the wider region because some of those companies would be founded right here in this region.”

3. Helping the economy through exports

Berliner, the regional council chair, announced that the consortium partnered with the Council of Governments and the Greater Washington Board of Trade to look at ways the groups can bring in more exports to help the economy. The group became the 29th member of the Global Cities Initiative, which discusses ways to improve the regional economy.

“It is the very first time that all three of our associations have worked together to really sit down and say “let’s see what we can do to grown regional economy with the focus on export,” Knapp said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet misspelled the name of the organization that held the meeting. It is the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, not Government. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
University President Steven Knapp announced that he decided to rescind Bill Cosby's honorary degree Monday. Hatchet File Photo by Katie Causey | Photo Editor.

University President Steven Knapp announced that he decided to rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degree on Monday Monday. Hatchet File Photo by Katie Causey | Photo Editor.

Updated: Jan. 11, 2015 at 2:55 p.m.

University President Steven Knapp announced that GW will revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degree on Monday, reversing a previous decision.

GW officials discussed revoking Cosby’s honorary degree in October, but said at the time that it was not University policy to take back a degree. Last month, Cosby was charged with sexual assault in a 2004 case in Pennsylvania, and has allegedly assaulted dozens of other women over the last several decades, according to the New York Times.

Knapp said in a statement released on Monday that he changed his mind on the matter after speaking with students and colleagues. He said students questioned why GW did not take back the degree “given the numerous allegations of sexual assault” surrounding Cosby.

“What has particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault,” Knapp said in the statement.

The Student Association passed a resolution condemning the University for not revoking the degree in November.

Knapp said that students and staff will need to work together around the issue of sexual assault prevention, and said taking back the degree will not solve the problem of sexual assault on campuses. Knapp referred students and members of the GW community to the University’s sexual assault resources website, known as Haven, if they have any suggestions or questions about GW’s sexual assault response.

“This action by itself will not end the scourge of sexual assault on this or any other campus,” he said in the statement.

In a statement released following Knapp’s announcement, the Student Association said they “would like to thank” GW for making the decision to take back Cosby’s degree.

“We look forward to working with the University to build a more inclusive and safer campus,” according to the statement.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 2:49 p.m.

News to watch for in 2016

2015 had its fair share of news, with budget cuts, administrators stepping down and conversations about mental health on campus. But with the year coming to a close, here’s some of the news that you should look out for in 2016.

More budget cuts

University President Steven Knapp announced another round of budget cuts this month, which will continue for the next several years. Hatchet File Photo.

University President Steven Knapp announced the most recent round of budget cuts earlier this month, adding on to ones officials have been implementing over the past year. GW asked administrative divisions to cut 5 percent of their budgets after missing budget projections because of declines in graduate enrollment.

At the most recent Faculty Senate meeting, the chair of the senate’s finance committee Joseph Cordes said the University should still be looking for ways to cut back on spending, but did note that GW’s budget is in better shape now than it was earlier in the year.

Filling administrator vacancies

Terri Harris Reed, the University's first vice provost for diversity and inclusion, announced she is leaving GW last semester. Her spot is one of three provost positions now open. Hatchet File Photo

Terri Harris Reed, the University’s first vice provost for diversity and inclusion, announced she is leaving GW last semester. Her spot is one of three provost positions now open. Hatchet File Photo

Top officials like Provost Steven Lerman announced they would be leaving their positions this year, leaving the spots vacant and needing to be filled. With Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Forrest Matlzman filling in as provost on an interim basis, GW is still in the process of finding a permanent replacement for Lerman, and a formal national search is expected to begin soon.

Other former officials like the former Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed and the former Vice Provost for Online Education and Academic Innovation Paul Schiff Berman also announced they would be leaving their position at GW and opening up the spots for new leaders to move into the programs GW is hoping to prioritize. But it appears unlikely that Berman will be replaced, and his post will likely be dissolved.

New vendors for J Street, District House

A new food vendor may be announced for J Street this semester. Hatchet File Photo

A new food vendor may be announced for J Street this semester. Hatchet File Photo

GW’s contract with the food service provider Sodexo is ending next spring, opening J Street and Pelham Commons to potential new vendors. The University began the search for a food service provider this fall in a process that has included students’ input, and many candidates for the Student Association’s top two positions included lobbying for a new vendor in their campaigns.

District House, GW’s newest residence hall, is set to open in the fall and will also have five food vendors in the bottom floor of the building, similar to the set-up in the basement of Shenkman Hall. Officials said last year that the University should have the vendors in the building decided by this spring.

UPD patrolling off campus

UPD, university police

A new bill in the D.C. Council could allow University Police Department officers to patrol off campus. Hatchet File Photo

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who is the chair of the D.C. Council’s Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill two weeks ago that would allow University Police Department officers to be able to patrol areas off campus.

GW said that the University, as part of a group of 13 universities in the D.C. metropolitan area, approached McDuffie about campus policing in the past year before he introduced the bill, but declined to say if GW specifically supports the bill because it is pending litigation. UPD officers had been reprimanded for patrolling off campus in the past, but GW has pushed for officers to have jurisdiction in areas near campus.

Juniors stuck on campus

District House will house about 850 sophomores and juniors. Courtesy of the Office of Campus Development

District House will house about 850 sophomores and juniors. Courtesy of the Office of Campus Development

Rising juniors in the fall 2016 semester will be the first class to experience not having the choice to live off campus their junior year, a policy announced two years ago. The housing mandate, which was proposed by a group designed to identify ways GW could generate more revenue, was defended by Knapp, who said the purpose of the decision was not to increase revenue from the added number of students that would live in GW housing next academic year.

To house the additional students, District House is expected to open next fall and will be home to about 850 sophomores and juniors, but the lease on City Hall, which houses about 380 students, is set to end in 2016. Student leaders have said they are concerned that there will be no space left for seniors to live on campus.

  • Permalink
  • Comments