Students, faculty and staff paid tribute to outgoing University President Steven Knapp and celebrated his legacy at a ceremony in the Smith Center Saturday afternoon.
In his farewell address, Knapp, who is set to step down as president this summer, thanked faculty and members of the Board of Trustees for their support and spoke of his pride in watching GW’s growth and development during his decade-long tenure as University president.
“It has been an honor for Diane and me to serve this University and see it continue on to even greater heights,” he said, referring his wife Diane Knapp. “We’ll be watching that progress with great interest and we will always regard this university as our cultural and intellectual home at the heart of our nation’s capital.”
At the event, guests snacked on hors d’ oeuvres and listened to a performance by the GW Jazz All Stars, a band made up of both students and faculty. Knapp, who told the Washington Business Journal last year that he originally aspired to be a jazz drummer, took to the drums for part of the performance.
Speakers cited Knapp’s efforts to improve the University’s research reputation, expand its fundraising capacity and build relationships with the D.C. community as examples of the legacy he will leave at GW.
“President Knapp has unequivocally surpassed our expectations in all three areas,” Board Chairman Nelson Carbonell said. “Countless generations of students will benefit from his legacy for many years to come.”
Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans thanked Knapp for the University’s role in creating job opportunities around the city and for helping people in need. To honor Knapp’s tenure he presented the outgoing president with a ceremonial resolution declaring May 6 a D.C. holiday in Knapp’s honor.
“We’ve seen the University expand and it has just made such a difference to this community and to the city as a whole,” he said.
Alumni Association President Jeremy Gosbee recognized Knapp’s international outreach and focus on keeping alumni engaged in University news and events. Knapp has traveled extensively throughout his presidency to expand GW’s global footprint and court donors.
“He’s traveled countless times all around the world to connect with our alumni and he’s our strongest ambassador when he encourages us to get involved on campus,” he said.
Speakers also recognized Diane Knapp, who has focused on developing sustainable food options during her time on campus. Diane Knapp leads GW’s Urban Food Task Force, which hosts events and provides students, faculty and staff with information about healthy food, and works with the campus GroW Garden.
Former Student Association President Erika Feinman and former Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno concluded the program by presenting the Knapp family with an orchid, meant to symbolize their commitment to growing the University.
“Many of our projects would not have been possible without their support,” Feinman said. “Thank you so much for your service.”