Knapp’s tenure depends on Board

With more than 80 percent of his term elapsed, University President Steven Knapp has made significant progress on his original priorities.


May to December 2006

The search begins
University searches for a new president after Stephen Joel Trachtenberg announces his impending retirement.

December 2006

Board of Trustees unanimously selects Steven Knapp
Johns Hopkins Provost Steven Knapp is approved as the University’s next president. He was also considered for the top job at Harvard.

August 2007

Change of power
Steven Knappn officially assumes the role of the University’s top administrator.

September 2007

Knapp speaks to the neighbors
In his first speech to the community, University President Steven Knapp tells neighbors he would be more responsive to their concerns after rocky years under SJT.


November 2007

A presidential inauguration
In a ceremony full of pomp and prestige, Steven Knapp is inaugurated as the University’s 16th president.

October 2009

ITF launched
Steven Knapp pledges $60 million for student life and academics through savings from the Innovation Task Force.

December 2009

New fundraising strategy launched
To boost fundraising, the deans of each respective school at GW are told they should spend 40 to 50 percent of their time on fundraising, a change from their previous, mainly academic, roles. Steven Knapp hints of an impending capital campaign.


March 2010

New provost announced
Steven Knapp offers the second highest position at GW to Steven Lerman, the then top-ranking official at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

June 2011

Knapp’s salary tops $1 million
After inching toward the mark, Knapp’s salary crossed the $1 million threshold for the first time this year, making him one of the highest-paid university presidents in the country.

GW’s 16th president compiled a team of administrators in the first four years of his tenure who have taken steps to expand the University’s research programs, partner with District organizations, manage the cost of attendance, strengthen the alumni network, increase fundraising and enhance diversity and sustainability on campus – the goals he outlined when he stepped into the job.

Knapp’s five-year first term is slated to end in August 2012 unless the board renews his contract, an option many University administrators expect.

He declined to say if he is seeking a renewal, as that decision lies with the Board of Trustees.

“I would say things have been going in a very positive direction. I think we’re moving the University forward in the ways we intended,” Knapp said. “But it’s up to the trustees to decide whether they want to keep going in that direction and then I have to wait to see what they say before I know what my response is.”

Nine of the University’s 15 former presidents served terms that lasted longer than five years.

Under Knapp, tuition increases have been held to 3 percent or less, and the Power and Promise Fund for financial aid was established.

The University partnered with local organizations including the Smithsonian Institute, Phillips Collection and Arena Stage.

Knapp’s presidency, aiming to boost the University’s reputation, has seen a dramatic shift toward science and research. The groundbreaking for the Science and Engineering Hall will take place Thursday, a research initiative Knapp actively supports, though it was planned before his tenure.

Knapp’s administration is building a “worldwide and lifelong community” for the University by prioritizing alumni outreach and development. Fundraising reached a record of $113.5 million last year, and this fall’s turnout for Alumni Weekend peaked.

University Provost Steven Lerman, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger, Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa, Vice Provost for Diversity Terri Harris Reed, Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles, Director of the Office of Sustainability Meghan Chapple-Brown and nine of 10 academic deans are among Knapp’s high-profile recruits.

“I’m very proud of the team we’ve put together. I’ll take a certain amount of credit for putting together the team,” he said. “What the team has accomplished has been pretty terrific.”

Knapp conceded there is still work to be done. He added several goals to his list this year, most notably the creation of the University’s first strategic plan in 10 years – kicking off what he calls a “decade of transformation.”

His team will also undertake comprehensive strategic fundraising and rebranding campaigns this year.

Knapp’s presidency is comparable to others at four-year private institutions, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At institutions like GW, 53 percent of presidents served in that role for six years or longer.

More than half of the presidents were between 50 and 64 years old. Knapp is 60 years old. Ninety-two percent of college presidents were white, and 74 percent were male.

Like Knapp – who was an English professor at The University of California at Berkeley before becoming provost at Johns Hopkins University – 68 percent of presidents were faculty before becoming administrators.

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