One of the chief complaints against University President Steven Knapp has been his lack of visibility among the undergraduate student body. In a move that will only widen this perceived disconnect, he will be attending only two Colonial Inaugurations this year.
During this time to make a lasting first impression on new students and their parents, Knapp will be traveling on University business instead of appearing in person to welcome the class of 2014 during the first, second and third CI.
While we understand and support the need to represent GW outside of the District and make appearances on the University's behalf, this cannot excuse the absence of the president from freshman orientation.
CI is the time for incoming freshmen to learn more about our University, become familiar with the campus, meet new friends, and be welcomed by the administration. But when the president is not present, this sends the wrong message to the new Colonials. This is Knapp's opportunity to reach out directly to freshmen, to give them his undivided attention and to extend his congratulations on their being a part of GW. A prerecorded message does not suffice in this situation, as Knapp simply becomes a talking head to which the new students and their parents will not feel connected.
The events and dates the University has released do not suggest that Knapp could not attend all CIs if he so chose. It prompts a natural question: are students his priority? At the end of the day and regardless of his many hats, students must feel like they can look to Knapp as a key figure. Yet, by putting other matters first, he sends a clearly disinterested signal. It's a choice that rings of publicity over reality and business over undergraduate experience.
Colonial Inauguration is a time for welcoming new students to our school, and the absence of the highest administrator is simply unacceptable.
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