Ramsey elected next chair of Board of Trustees, VP Blumer retires

W. Russell Ramsey will be GW’s next chairman of the board of Trustees, the University’s highest governing body voted Friday.

Ramsey has served as the vice chairman of the board and chairman of the investment and real estate committees as well as the presidential search committee. Ramsey said that as he starts his term as chairman he would like to work with University President-elect Steven Knapp to raise money for research and capital spending.

“I hope that this whole group will recognize that there will be a transition,” Ramsey said.

At the end of fiscal year 2006, GW earned the seventh-highest one-year investment return out of the 750 university endowments tracked by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The successful returns were largely the cause of the endowment reaching over $1 billion.

“This puts us in the same category of Yale, Princeton and MIT,” Ramsey said about GW’s high ranking of investment performance for the endowment.

Ramsey said globalization and moving many of the investments outside of the U.S. accounted for the successful returns. He said they were “early and aggressive” in their investments

Trachtenberg and Ramsey both expressed a hope that Knapp would serve a long tenure as University president, especially in light of many recent cases of presidents of other schools serving terms that were under five years.

Trachtenberg will have served as University President for 19 years when he retires in July. Blumer has served as GW’s first vice president and general counsel since 1995.

Also announced at the board’s winter meeting was the retirement of vice president and general council Dennis Blumer. He was GW’s first vice president and general counsel and has served in the position since 1995. William Howard has been named as the interim vice president and general counsel.

“(Blumer) had indexed his service to mine, and so he and I were going to step down concurrently with Manatt. You’ll see a lot of that this year … It’s in the nature of this business,” said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.

Blumer has provided legal guidance to the Board of Trustees and to the administration. He gave advice on matters including campus development, human resource services and labor relations.

“We’ve entered into a far more litigious era, whether it’s simple slip and falls or contracts or government regulatory issues, you simply need to be represented by competent counsel,” said Trachtenberg.

Howard replaced Blumer as interim vice president and general counsel earlier this month. He has served as GW’s deputy general counsel since 1996. Howard was involved with legal matters like the acquisition of the Mount Vernon Campus and the restructuring of the Medical Center.

“(Blumer) has done a great job here. Legally, we’ve been in great shape … and I just hope to maintain that, both minimizing problems, dealing with issues as they arise and providing good strategic advice also,” Howard said.

Trachtenberg also addressed the transition that will take place when he steps down in July. He urged the board to be supportive of President-elect Knapp, and to “nurture and protect” him throughout the transition period.

“My greater interest is that his success will lead to George Washington University’s success,” Trachtenberg said. “He’s not coming here to be the heart or soul of the University, but to be its leader.”

Trachtenberg said Knapp should play the roles in which he excels in, and delegate the others.

“If he wants to play the drums, don’t hand him the bagpipes,” Trachtenberg said. “And if he likes to wrestle sheep from time to time … well nobody’s perfect.”

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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