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AU in the Neighborhood Newsletter

Au Gospel Choir

December 2010

As the fall semester draws to a close, we look back at what has been an exciting year for AU.  The university welcomed an exceptional freshman class, opened a new School of International Service building, had visitors ranging from President Obama to Gloria Steinem to Elton John, and exceeded $200 million in a fund-raising campaign.

Our students rank as the most politically active in the nation and represent 140 countries. They work in our community, intern around the city, and contribute no matter where they are.  Leah Simoncelli, a senior, was studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, when a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck in February. She and other students partnered with the local chapter of an international aid organization, A Roof for My Country, and went to work building temporary housing for families. Leah was awarded the $10,000 Pearson Foundation Prize for Higher Education for her community service – one of 20 undergraduate students chosen from 10,000 applicants. Leah also is a member of Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity on campus, and helped organize Do Your Service Day on November 13. Two hundred volunteers contributed almost 1,200 hours of service to local nonprofits and community organizations in one day.

Many neighbors joined us on campus this year for concerts, plays, and art receptions; shopped at our weekly farmers’ market; took classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at AU; toured our arboretum and gardens; and helped us plant new green roofs. 

We wish everyone a joyous holiday season and look forward to more opportunities for our neighbors to explore the campus, attend events, and meet our students, faculty, and staff. 

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Community Holiday Reception for our Neighbors

Join us to celebrate the holidays at our third annual Community Holiday Reception on Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Katzen Arts Center.  Enjoy refreshments and a performance by AU’s Gospel Choir. Free parking is available under the Katzen building. Please RSVP to Maria Pahigiannis at As this holiday season brings another year to an end, we want to wish our neighbors peace and joy in 2011. We look forward to seeing you on campus for lots of new activities and events including concerts, classes, and upcoming dinners with students. 

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Facts About AU's New Campus Plan

AU Flag

American University currently is developing its 2011 Campus Plan for approval by the DC Zoning Commission. The Campus Plan is a roadmap for all new facilities that the university plans to build during the next decade. The new plan focuses on two goals: bringing our undergraduate students back to live on campus, and building a new Washington College of Law on our Tenley campus.

Why these choices?
Student housing: AU is required by the city’s Zoning Commission to house two-thirds of our undergraduates, including 85 percent of all freshman and sophomores on campus. Currently, we fulfill that requirement by such means as tripling students in rooms designed for two people and renting 100 units in the nearby Berkshire Apartments. In addition, the demand from our students to live on campus exceeds the current number of available rooms.

Washington College of Law: AU’s law school currently is housed in a converted office building on Massachusetts Avenue in Spring Valley. It has outgrown this space and must rent additional space in the neighborhood. 

Some Useful Facts for our Neighbors:  

  • Our new Campus Plan proposes that more students will live on campus, and out of the neighborhoods.
  • AU is NOT planning any sizable growth in its undergraduate enrollment. AU plans to add 15 undergraduate students per year for next 10 years, for a total 150 new undergraduate students.
  • AU has NOT built any new residential facilities in more than 30 years, and needs to provide more modern, updated accommodations as other universities do nationwide.
  • AU is NOT buying any additional land or expanding into the neighborhood. AU will build on its existing campus property – an eight-acre parking lot at New Mexico and Nebraska Avenues, and its eight-acre Tenley campus.
  • Building on the Nebraska Avenue parking lot will NOT result in more cars parked in the neighborhood. AU will construct underground parking under new buildings.

AU has been meeting with a Campus Plan Task Force of neighbors since July, 2009. All of the information from our meetings is available at If you and your neighbors would like more information, please contact our Community Relations office at (202) 885-2167.


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New AU Resource Guide for Neighbors

Our new brochure lists AU resources available to the public and includes a directory of commonly used phone numbers.

In response to requests from neighbors, we’ve put together a new neighborhood resource guide with handy information about the campus, activities and events, the university’s Web site, and phone numbers that are useful when questions or concerns arise.  We’ll be distributing them around the neighborhood, along with magnets featuring essential university phone numbers. If you would like some for your neighbors, please call Community Relations or send an e-mail to

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AU Student Wins Election for ANC Seat

Deon Jones

Deon Jones, the new ANC3D07 Commissioner
Photo Credit: S. Karsen, The Eagle

On Nov. 2, AU student Deon Jones was elected to the long-vacant ANC3D07 Commissioner position to represent students on the South Side of the AU campus and nearby neighbors.  A student in the leadership program in the School of Public Affairs, Deon came to AU with considerable experience in local politics in Atlanta where he was president of the student body at his high school, and worked for city Councilmember Scott Vaugh and State Senator Kasim Reed, who is now Mayor of Atlanta. Deon also is one of a number of AU students working as interns on DC Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s transition team. Deon is full of energy and eager to represent AU and work with the community. We hope you’ll have a chance to meet Deon – and have a chance to hear him sing as a member of AU’s gospel choir.

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Washington Post Highlights AU Arboretum

Neighbors on an arboretum tour

The Arboretum offers free guided tours, or you can download their audio tour and explore at your own pace.

“If you haven’t been to AU in awhile, you should go. The place is full of tree huggers and it shows,” Washington Post garden columnist Adrian Higgins wrote after a recent walk around the campus. His article chronicles the myriad landscape improvements that AU has made to its 75-acre campus in recent years, including planting 1,200 trees in the past 12 years. Here is a link to the article in case you missed it. 

The article appeared just a day after the AU Arboretum luncheon, attended by a number of our neighbors in the new School of International Service building. We were treated to a lovely luncheon, with fabulous centerpieces made by AU landscapers, and a lecture by Dr. Jeff Kerwin, Professor at Virginia Tech, co-author of Remarkable Trees of Virginia. We also encourage you to download our Arboretum brochure and audio tour at Free group guided tours may be scheduled by calling (202) 885-1145.

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Services at Kay Spiritual Life Center

Exterior view of the Kay Spiritual Life Center taken at night,.

Sitting serenely at the north end of campus, the interfaith Abraham S. Kay Spiritual Life Center is a hub of spiritual life at AU. Today, 25 faith communities call the chapel their home. Whether you are Baptist or Buddhist, Methodist or Jewish, Quaker or Muslim, you can find services to attend at We welcome our neighbors to join us. The circular chapel, dedicated in 1965 and visible from Ward Circle, also is a popular place for weddings, concerts, and other events. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the chapel, stop by the next time you are on campus. Its peaceful atmosphere also offers a welcoming place for quiet contemplation.  

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Video of Fall Semester Highlights with AU President

American University President Neil Kerwin

As the fall semester draws to a close, President Neil Kerwin sent a video message to highlight some of the important things that have happened on campus. They include the strength of the freshman class (2014), the work of the Center for Congressional and Presidential studies, AU’s high scores on the National Survey of Student Involvement, the high academic standings of our student athletes and their success on the field, as well as the success of AU’s All-American alumni and family weekend, and AU’s fundraising campaign AnewAU. 

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Basketball Opener Celebrates Local Schools

Janney Elementary students singing the national anthem at a basketball game.

Backed by the AU cheerleaders and led by Clawed the mascot, students from Janney Elementary sung the national anthem at the men’s basketball game against St. Francis.

The AU men’s basketball team’s recent home opener against St. Francis celebrated “Northwest DC Elementary School Day” with lots of students and parents from local schools.  Whether it was leading the National Anthem, getting autographs from AU’s mascot Clawed, or cheering on the Eagles, the spirited evening was fun for all. The basketball team also goes to local schools to mentor students and give them a chance to run some of their drills. A recent American Minute video profiled the basketball team members and the students at Janney Elementary School in Tenleytown.

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December Events

Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. AU hosts its 3rd annual Community Holiday Reception for our neighbors with refreshments and a performance by AU’s Gospel Choir in the Rotunda of the Katzen Arts Center. Free parking is available under the Katzen building. Please RSVP to or call (202) 885-6216. 

Thursday, December 2 at 7 p.m. Women’s basketball plays George Mason University in Bender Arena. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletics Office at (202) 885-TIXX.

Friday, December 3 at 7 p.m. Winter Dance Informal Showcase. A biannual celebration of AU’s dance program with students performing modern, jazz, ballet, tap, and African dances. Abramson Family Recital Hall in the Katzen Arts Center. Free parking is available under the Katzen building. For more information, visit For tickets, contact the Katzen Arts Center at (202) 885-3634.

Saturday, December 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Women's basketball plays Youngstown St. in Bender Arena. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletics Office at (202) 885-TIXX.

Sunday, December 5 at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Kids @ Katzen workshop for children 5-12 years of age (accompanied by a parent or guardian) will explore the Washington Project for the Arts 35 year retrospective show at the AU Museum with WPA Program Director and local DC artist Kristina Bilonick. Working with museum staff and volunteers, children will create their own exploratory print-making project.  Rotunda of the Katzen Arts Center. $7 cash-only materials fee at the door. RSVP required at or call (202) 885-2787.

Sunday, December 5 from 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m. AU Dance Team Invitational. 300 dancers from 18 local high school and all-star dance teams converge on AU’s campus for high-kicking, high-energy competition.  This is a great event for all ages, so bring your family to watch some terrific dancing! The day begins with solo competition events at 10 a.m. followed by team competition from 1 - 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door, and the $8 admission ticket is good for the entire day's events with the proceeds funding the  AU Spirit Team’s travel expenses to the National Cheer Association and National Dance Alliance Collegiate National Championship.

Tuesday, December 7 from 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Tuesday Lecture Series of AU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) features nationally known author, journalist, and playwright Barbara Graham talking about her latest book, Eye of My Heart, about being a grandparent in the 21st century. The New York Times bestseller also will be for sale. The lectures are free and open to the public. Temple Baptist Church, 3850 Nebraska Avenue, N.W. Room 6/Lecture Hall.

Thursday, December 9 at 7 p.m.  Fourth annual AU Alumni Holiday Soiree co-sponsored this year by the AU Alumni Board and the Friends of the Library. Rotunda of the Katzen Arts Center. Bring a new unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots drive for needy children in DC. Entertainment by AU student group On a Sensual Note.  Tickets: $20 for alumni and guests. RSVP at or call Tara Lang at (202) 885-5921.

Friday, December 10 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 11 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 12 at 2 p.m. 5 p.m. Ballet Petite and Youth Performing Arts School   presents The Nutcracker at the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre at 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.  Tickets are $18 and are available at or by phone at the Greenberg box office (202) 885-2587. Paid parking is available under the building. Enter on Van Ness Street. 

Saturday, December 18 at 2 p.m. Women’s basketball plays George Washington University in Bender Arena. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletics Office at (202) 885-TIXX.

Sunday, December 19 at 1 p.m. Men’s wrestling faces off against Old Dominion in Bender Arena. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletics Office at (202) 885-TIXX.

Wednesday, December 22 at 7 p.m. Women’s basketball plays Troy in Bender Arena. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletics Office at (202) 885-TIXX.

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For event details and a full list of all upcoming events, see the University Events Calendar.