Local alumni give Knapp feedback, advice

Wednesday, June 4

University President Steven Knapp held a small-group discussion with local alumni Thursday at Alumni House to discuss GW’s role in the larger D.C. community.

The event marked the second in a series of “Colonial Conversations,” which attempt to reach out to graduates in the greater metropolitan D.C. area.

“The conversations are a great opportunity to connect with alumni in an intimate setting,” Knapp said to the 39 people who attended the event. “We have over 1,200 alumni in just the Foggy Bottom area.”

The conversation was steered by the alumni themselves as they provided Knapp with feedback on current GW initiatives. They focused on GW’s responsibility in the city as an economic powerhouse, providing about 13,000 jobs.

Knapp said the University wields a significant economic force, and the group discussed the adage “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Diane Tai, a 1973 graduate, said she thought Knapp was “very community-minded” and was pleased he was making an effort to maintain GW’s image.

“GW is investing in the future so that there are a lot of positive feelings and good will for students,” Tai said.

Members of the group also commended the University for the $13.5 million in scholarships it has provided to 93 D.C. public high school graduates since 1989.

Knapp told the alumni that he hopes to increase the number of city partnerships and “institution to institution relationships.” As an example, he said he recently met with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and officials at the World Bank to discuss ways that GW can foster positive relations with such organizations.

“We cannot succeed as an institution unless the city is a healthy, thriving city,” Knapp said.

Alumni also discussed Knapp’s recent efforts to bolster GW’s reputation as a research university.

Knapp said improvements on campus – such as a new science center – would be supplemented by enhanced cooperation between universities in the consortium and local organizations.

Although many of the alumni said they were excited about the direction GW was headed, some were concerned by the increase of national chains in the area, such as the multiple CVS Pharmacy locations within a few blocks of campus.

Knapp assured them that GW has no plans for any more CVS stores besides the one to be completed inside the former Tower Records. However, any remaining vacant retail spaces on campus might not be completely spared from national chains, Knapp said.

He joked, “The rest will be Starbucks.”

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