A few days before this year’s Commencement ceremonies, the Board of Trustees announced its intention to commemorate the work of outgoing University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg by renaming the School of Public Policy and Public Administration in his honor.
The Board presented Trachtenberg with a resolution to rename the school the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at a luncheon following the Board’s last meeting of the year Friday. Administrators, trustees, deans, members of the Faculty Senate and a table full of current and past Student Association presidents were present both for the meeting and the luncheon.
The resolution to rename the school in his honor left Trachtenberg speechless and in tears. In an interview with The Hatchet after the luncheon, Trachtenberg said renaming the school, “gives some punctuation to my entire career and to my life.”
“It really is a serious, adult honor … it makes me feel very responsible,” he said
Trachtenberg said the trustees allowed him to choose the school that would bear his name. When former University President Lloyd Elliott retired, he was afforded this same privilege and chose the international affairs school – now the Elliott School of International Affairs.
On August 1, Trachtenberg will become a professor of public service in the newly dubbed Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, though he will not start teaching right away. Trachtenberg said this is because he does not want to be “sulking in (his) tent” while University President-elect Stephen Knapp addresses new students at Freshmen Convocation.
At the board meeting, Trachtenberg said his final words to the trustees about some of the issues he has been most criticized for, while indirectly giving advice to incoming University President Steven Knapp, who did not attend the meeting.
“The institution must remain always dynamic,” Trachtenberg said. “One cannot become satisfied … It’s nice to hear praise, but it’s also important not to believe too much of it.”
Now that he is stepping down from the top post he has held at the University for 19 years, Trachtenberg’s position on various aspects of University politics was both open-minded and ambiguous. He said dropping tuition may be considered, but only if it is not at the expense of academics.
Trachtenberg said the University might reconsider its fixed tuition plan after he steps down in July, a plan first implemented in 2004. He weighed the merits and disadvantages of fixed tuition, citing the increasing number of schools that are adopting it, but also pointing out that Pace University recently scrapped its fixed tuition model.
A long-time proponent of the four-by-four plan, where students take four classes a semester worth four credits each, Trachtenberg said that the plan may not be a better alternative to the current five-by-three structure.
Though he backed down from some of his previously hard-nosed stances on certain issues, he had one firm recommendation for his successor.
Trachtenberg said, “The only advice I have to give (Knapp) is don’t give the Commencement address.”
The board also recognized Francine Zorn Trachtenberg, President Trachtenberg’s wife, at the luncheon by announcing the creation of an endowment in her name for photography programs in GW’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery. Francine Trachtenberg has taught classes at GW on the history of photography and has also volunteered at the art gallery.
“I can’t imagine a more gracious hostess,” said trustee Lydia Thomas of Francine Trachtenberg. “I can’t imagine a more talented, artistic individual.”