GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s announcement of retirement Tuesday means he will step down before some of his major goals are accomplished.
Three of Trachtenberg’s major goals include getting the endowment to pass the billion-dollar mark, embarking on a 20-year campus development plan and creating a degree-seeking language translation program.
Vice President for Advancement Laurel Price Jones said she thinks it’s possible that Trachtenberg will reach his goal of pushing the endowment over $1 billion before he steps down to become a public service professor in July 2007. Reaching the mark partly depends on how the overall stock market does and if GW’s real estate projects move forward.
The University, as of Wednesday, is on target of hitting its goal of raising $70 million this year. Jones said that when Trachtenberg arrived the University was raising $12 million annually, and that last year GW hit $62 million in donations. GW’s endowment was at $823 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005. Jones said Trachtenberg’s decision to retire could spur additional fundraising.
“I think chances are that there will certainly be the opportunity to raise money in the coming year because when presidents step down, that’s when people give,” she said.
Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said Wednesday that even though Trachtenberg will be in a very different role as a professor, he will still help out with fundraising.
“Steve has a very loyal following, and he’s going to nurture them for the institution,” he said.
Sherry Rutherford, GW’s managing director of real estate planning and development, said that while she “certainly hopes” the city will approve GW’s newly proposed 20-year Campus Plan before Trachtenberg steps down, she said he might not get to be president during the start of the construction phase. She said the University hopes to break ground on the School Without Walls dormitory project on F Street sometime in 2007. Development on Square 54, the empty site across from the Foggy Bottom Metro, would probably not start until after he retires.
In February, Trachtenberg proposed that GW adopt a translation and interpretation of language program that would focus on “strategic languages” such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Farsi and Korean. He said he believes that graduates with such technical training would be in high demand in a post-9/11 world.
Carol Sigelman, GW’s associate vice president for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs, said Wednesday that the language department may experiment with an introductory course in translation and interpretation but that it wouldn’t happen before summer 2007.
“It’s very different from what we currently do, and it’s not something we can jump right into,” she said.
Sigelman said the faculty already considered the program and decided that it wasn’t feasible to develop it quickly.
She said, “I can’t promise that a full-fledged program will develop. I think this was a good idea, and we are seriously considering how we can move in the direction he charted.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.