Steven Knapp does not assume GW’s presidency until Aug. 1, but the former John Hopkins administratior is staying out of the limelight until then. He will not address freshmen at the Colonial Inauguration and instead, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will give the presidential greeting to freshmen and their families.
“President Trachtenberg is still president and he will continue to fulfill his duties,” said Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations. “Dr. Knapp is finishing up his tenure as Provost at Johns Hopkins, and still has a lot of responsibilities there. Even though he is physically close we should not have unrealistic expectations on how involved he will be before starting at GW.”
The University President usually addresses students at CI, except for occasions when traveling means he cannot be on campus. In the past, Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak delivered a speech in Trachtenberg’s absence. Last summer, for the first time, students watched a video of clips from Trachtenberg’s usual addresses.
“We have been fortunate to have President Trachtenberg take on an active role in CI,” said Christine Yip, director of CI.
Yip said Trachtenberg usually addresses students during what is called the “Academic Welcome,” addresses parents during the ice cream social and drops in at other CI events as well.
Yip said she did not think it was an issue that freshmen will not meet their new president right away.
“It should not affect freshmen attending CI at all as they will have many opportunities in the fall and the years ahead to learn about, hear from, and meet Dr. Knapp,” Yip said.
But some incoming freshmen said they do no understand why an outgoing University president is welcoming them to GW.
“I just assumed that Dr. Knapp was going to be there. I don’t really see a big disadvantage in not meeting him but it seems pointless to have (Trachtenberg) to welcome us to the school when he is on his way out,” said incoming freshman Sophia Carter.
“Why would (Knapp) not go? We’ll be his first graduating class. You’d think he’d want to meet us.” incoming freshman Becca Sherwood said.
Freshmen will likely see Knapp for the first time at Freshman Convocation Sept. 3. Professors and other faculty will meet Knapp at their faculty assembly on Sept. 10.
Knapp will be officially inaugurated as GW’s 16th president Nov. 16 at Smith Center with events marking the occasion beginning Nov. 12. He plans to hold a series of forums in the fall to meet with students, alumni, faculty and trustees.
To familiarize incoming freshmen with their new president this summer, Knapp was profiled in the CI brochure. There is also a question and answer section on the CI Web site that features his thoughts on entering GW, his favorite leisure activities and his hopes for his first freshman class.
One item reads, “CI: Will you feel like a freshman yourself this fall? SK: No doubt about that. I can use all the orientation I can get!”
Knapp will attend one freshman orientation session – the international CI in August.
Until then, Trachtenberg is still on the job. Beyond his appearances at CI, Trachtenberg is tying up loose ends, and getting ready to step into his new role as a professor of public service.
“I’m working like crazy to give Steven Knapp as clean a desk as possible … I’m solving issues and handling problems,” Trachtenberg said. “I want to make it easy for him with nothing snapping at him when he first starts. I’m also relocating my office- packing books and plaques and moving from Rice Hall to the SMPA building.”
He continued, “In terms of personal stuff, I’m moving out of the president’s house into my own house. I’ll be a professor so I’m looking into classes and I’m exploring consulting opportunities.”
Trachtenberg said he is also “editing the details” of a book tentatively titled “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die.”
As for the words of wisdom he’ll be doling out to freshmen at CI, Trachtenberg said he hasn’t prepared anything yet.
“I never know what I’m going to say (at CI). I just stand up … its fairly spontaneous,” Trachtenberg said. “Basically I’ll welcome them to campus and wish them luck.”