The appointment of a University provost last semester is allowing GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg to travel abroad more freely this year.
Trachtenberg, who recently returned from a trip to London, is set to visit the Middle East in October and China in December, both GW-related trips to “follow up on resources, plan joint ventures, and ultimately make sure that GW continues to play a role as an international institution,” he said.
Trachtenberg declined to comment on details of his upcoming Middle East trip.
In London, Trachtenberg said he met with alumni to “renew their interest” in the University for fundraising purposes and traveled to Oxford to see the head of Pembroke College. Trachtenberg said trips abroad help cultivate and maintain relationships with foreign university leaders.
He said he has a “full agenda” for his December trip to China, where he will forge relationships with other universities and foreign officials. Trachtenberg also said GW continues to actively seek members of the international community to join the student body.
The University’s provost, John Williams, is first in command while the president is away from the University, and will serve for at least the next three years, when his contract expires. Williams will maintain his job as director of health affairs while provost.
Williams’ appointment also allows Trachtenberg to become more involved in the city. He recently took the position as chairman of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member D.C. organization that works to improve the city’s business climate.
“What’s good for the District of Columbia is good for GW,” Trachtenberg said.
He said his duties as chairman involve working with the government to enhance business in the community.
“It keeps you going fulltime,” he said.
He said his position with the Chamber of Commerce will not detract from his job at the University.
Among Williams’ top priorities are GW’s homeland security issues, which involve the University’s emergency response and preparedness, as well as school-wide communication efforts.
“He’s a strong right hand,” Trachtenberg said. “Since he’s not as focused on a specific portfolio, we’re doing our best to give him a chance to grow. As new things come up, we’re making room for him to help.”
Williams said the transition ran “seamlessly.”
“One thing I really want to do is get to know the undergraduate population better,” Williams said, adding that he has already met with Student Association President Kris Hart, and he hopes to attend more student forums.
Among his projects, Williams has also spent time on Capitol Hill lobbying Congress with various initiatives, in addition to meeting with members of the University Board of Trustees.
Trachtenberg called Williams “the face of GW” in matters involving the federal government. Because of its Washington location and fundraising and education goals, GW often works closely on government initiatives.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said Williams’ new post will allow him to continue benefiting the GW community.
“We were always interactive when he was at the Medical School, and we’ll continue to build those bridges. Nothing has changed,” Lehman said.
Trachtenberg noted that Williams’ decision to resign as dean of the medical school gave him more room to get involved administratively. So far, Trachtenberg said the mission has been successful.
“It’s a new function,” Trachtenberg said. “Having people work together, he’s been totally diplomatic. These are supportive roles, not competitive ones