At alumni event, Knapp discusses future of University

University President Steven Knapp spoke with veteran radio host Dick Golden Saturday morning in an event billed as a “State of the University” address to alumni.

More than 100 people listened to Knapp discuss his vision for GW and the school’s progress since he took office in August 2007. Golden, the special assistant for broadcast operations and University events, asked Knapp about a wide range of issues affecting the current student body, alumni and the greater Washington D.C. area.

“We’re on a trajectory to be the most powerful and significant university in the nation’s capital,” Knnapp said of the University in 10 years.

Knapp said remaking the University’s research operation is key to success.

“In order to achieve what George Washington had in mind with this University we need to become a world class research institution,” Knapp said. “GW is aiming to bring together both research and instruction in order to fulfill this goal.”

Knapp also emphasized making sure GW was proactively engaged with the local Foggy Bottom and D.C. community.

“The University is really establishing a tradition and reputation for being a partner with public schools in the District,” Knapp said.

Other issues raised during the discussion included tuition affordability concerns, the growing importance of service in the GW community and environmental sustainability efforts on the part of the University – a topic that has drawn criticism from some members of the Student Association Senate and also from conservative groups on campus.

Due to the recent economic downturn and mounting nationwide unemployment, Knapp noted the Career Center has been working with not only students but also alumni to help them find job opportunities.

Knapp commented that it was “through our alumni that GW really has its impact in the world,” and that it was important to maintain that connection.

The conversation also included mention of the University’s policy on fixed, non-increasing tuition rates for enrolled students, something Knapp said provided “a benefit for families in this period of uncertainty.”

Knapp kept the atmosphere light throughout the conversation, noting he was happy to have his house across the street from the “important University historical site of Thurston Hall,” saying that with the addition of the Mount Vernon campus to the GW community “we have Georgetown surrounded,” and stating during the discussion on sustainability that his dog was “entirely made of recyclable materials.”

Derik Perry, who graduated from the School of Business in 1989, said he was pleased to hear Knapp mention the African-American Alumni Advisory Board, which he chairs. Knapp also said he hopes to enhance the sense of diversity on campus. Joelle LaGuerre, a graduate student the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, asked Knapp about the University’s employee relations.

LaGuerre, who also works as a senior training specialist in the Department of Employee Training and Development on campus, said she wanted Knapp to take steps to make sure GW was “a preeminent employer in the D.C. area.”

LaGuerre said she was impressed by Knapp’s focus on service at GW and said “his value of community and public service really came through.”

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