Knapp exhibit unveiled

An exhibit displaying University President Steven Knapp’s achievements as a provost and literary scholar opened Tuesday in the Gelman Library’s first floor exhibit room.

The exhibit, entitled “In Partnership: Steven Knapp and the GW Community,” now occupies the space that held “From Strength to Strength,” an exhibit that opened in the spring of 2007 and commemorated outgoing University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s accomplishments during his 19 year presidency.

Though the exhibit marks his own accomplishments and goals, Knapp said, “It’s really about the institution.”

University librarian Jack Siggins said the idea for the two exhibits functioned to show the transition between the two presidencies. In light of the exhibit set up to celebrate Trachtenberg’s achievements, a display of Knapp’s accomplishments seemed appropriate, even though the University didn’t have as much information (about Knapp), Siggins said.

The opening of the exhibit coincided with Gelman Library’s 35th anniversary of the Friends of the GW Libraries luncheon, which gave Knapp the chance to meet the library’s financial supporters.

Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble introduced Knapp at the exhibit’s opening. Both men spoke about the themes they saw present in the exhibit and in the University as a whole.

The headings of the exhibit’s three panels emphasize strengths Knapp was known for when he worked at Johns Hopkins University. These strengths include building partnerships, shared ideals, shared purpose and forging a shared identity.

“The exhibit has been organized to show the parallels between President Knapp’s success as Johns Hopkins University provost and his plans for guiding GW’s future academic and community presence,” Gelman Library exhibits specialist Phil Raino wrote in an e-mail.

The heading “building partnerships” lists Knapp’s community accomplishments as a provost at Johns Hopkins. These accomplishments include chairing the university’s urban health council – a body that developed plans for university response to health problems in inner-city Baltimore – and overseeing the addition of a Johns Hopkins research institute in Nanjing, China.

“I think it’s great how much they’re trying to include community in everything (Knapp) does,” said Michael Akin, director of Foggy Bottom/West End relations.

The “shared ideals, shared purpose” heading suggests Knapp’s academic focus while at John’s Hopkins is shared by GW administrators. The display says he supported the expansion of academic research programs and testified in front the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness in 2006, speaking about why the government should support academic research institutions.

The “forging a shared identity” heading features pictures of well-known GW alumni and states that Knapp improved alumni relations at Johns Hopkins.

Beneath the panels sits a display case housing several of Knapp’s scholarly works, including “Literary Interest: The Limits of Anti-Formalism,” “Personification and the Sublime: Milton to Coleridge” and “Personification and Poetic Ambivalence,” his thesis at Cornell University.

Guests present at the opening included students, faculty, Gelman Library supporters and donors, Gelman staff and members of the Foggy Bottom community.

Toni Boyer, a resident of St. Mary’s Court since 1989, said she was optimistic about Knapp and the University.

“(GW has) a good president,” she said, “and the students here are great.”

The exhibit will remain open through the first week in November.

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