Charles Manatt to retire from chairman of Board of Trustees

GW’s top leadership will look very different beginning this July.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Charles Manatt announced at Friday’s board meeting that he will step down from his position when his term expires at the end of June. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg announced last April that he will step down from his position at the conclusion of his term in July.

Manatt has served on the board since 1980 and will have served as the body’s chair for six years when he steps down. He said Friday that he will remain a University trustee upon handing the chairmanship to his successor.

An election within the board will take place at the body’s February meeting to determine the next chairman. Trustee and Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee W. Russell Ramsey has been nominated for the position, which serves a three-year term.

“He and I are walking off into the sunset together,” Trachtenberg said about Manatt’s announcement after the board’s meeting. Trachtenberg said last April that he will step down from nearly two decades as GW’s president when his term expires in July.

“We’re allowing a new dawn of leadership to begin,” he said.

The Board of Trustees is the University’s highest decision-making body and is responsible for setting tuition, enrollment and a vision for the University, among other responsibilities. The board will also pick the next University President this winter.

Manatt said he will remember his time as the chairman of the board by “changes and improvements” to the University.

“This venue is so attractive to so many people, it’s an honor to have served,” he said after the meeting.

Manatt is the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 1999 to 2001. He is a 1962 graduate of the Law School and is a founding partner at the international law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

Any member of the board may nominate a new chair, but so far Ramsey, a 1981 graduate, is the only nominee.

In addition to the board’s Governance Committee nominating Ramsey as chair, the committee also nominated Vice Chairwoman Lydia Thomas to be re-nominated for her position and Nelson Carbonell Jr., a 1985 business school graduate, to be nominated as vice chairman of the board. Carbonell and Thomas both sit on the Presidential Search Committee.

Ramsey, 46, is co-founder of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, an investment bank, where he still sits on the bank’s Board of Directors. In 2001 Ramsey left FBR to start Ramsey Asset Management, an alternative investment bank. He now serves as chairman and chief executive officer of the firm.

Ramsey attended GW on a baseball scholarship and is a member of GW’s athletic Hall of Fame, according to his biography on FBR’s Web site.

The Board of Trustees traditionally accepts nominations for the next year’s leadership at its February meeting and elects officers at its May meeting. This year, however, Manatt pushed up the schedule of the board’s leadership decisions due to the University’s search for a new president. He said he wanted the new president to know who the new leadership of the board would be.

He added that the board is hoping to consider candidates for Trachtenberg’s successor as University president at some point between December and January.

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