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AU in the Neighborhood Newsletter

AU in the Neighborhood May 2010

May 2010

Hats off to AU's Class of 2010!


With the end of the spring semester, campus life at AU will soon settle in to a quieter cycle as students finish their final exams and pack up to leave the university for the summer.  We will also say goodbye to more than 2,500 graduates in ceremonies during the weekend of May 8-9, followed by the Washington College of Law ceremony on May 23.  We will also open the doors of our new "green" SIS building this month, so we hope you will stop by to see it.  Take a take a walk through the campus and enjoy the gardens, and join us for a reception featuring the new art exhibits at the AU Museum.    

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We’re Moving Into Our New “Green” School of International Service

SIS Interior

Photo by Benjamin Bishop

We have started to move into our new School of International Service Building on the quad (at the intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues), a soon-to-be LEED-Certified Gold building.  The new SIS school has incorporated "green building" in a myriad of ways, from the rain water collected into cisterns for reuse in gardens and some building operations, to the three solar hot water heaters, wood from a sustainable forest, metal window shades that control light during the day, and the LED lights in the underground parking lot. The 70,000 square foot building was designed by architect William McDonough, renown for sustainable design and his "cradle-to cradle" philosophy for recycling and reusing building materials.  The Davenport Lounge, one of the most popular places for coffee on campus, will also move from the old SIS building into beautiful new space on the first floor of the new building with seating inside the spacious light-filled atrium as well as an outside café (whose furnishings were a gift of the Class of 2010).  The water feature in the atrium includes a sculpture with rocks from the excavation of the building.   AU's School of International Service is the largest school of international relations in the country.  AU has adopted a new Green Building Policy that all construction, including new construction, major renovation, and major replacement/repair projects will be implemented to be equal to the US Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard, or better.  

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Commencement Speakers

mortarboard and diplomas

Jeff Watts

We will send off our students with words of advice and wisdom from an impressive group of commencement speakers this year, and thought you might be interested in learning who they are: Michelle Bachelet, the first female president of Chile whose term as president ended on March 11, 2010; Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security;  Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former Secretary of Health and Human Resources for President Clinton (she attended AU as a student in the Washington Semester Program); Seth Goldman, co-founder and President of Honest Tea; Barbara Kopple, award winning filmmaker;  and, Attorney General of the United States Eric H. Holder, Jr.  


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Students Making a Difference

Final exam week is a very stressful time for our students.  We'd like to say thank you to two students, freshman Brian Yannantuono and junior Aileen George, who took time out during finals week to do something very special – finding a way to use extra meals that students have left on their EagleBucks cards at the end of the semester to feed the homeless.  Brian approached AU's food service provider, Bon Appetit, for approval to allow students to use balances on Eaglebucks cards for box lunches. They donated the lunches to the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place in Tenleytown, which provides services for the homeless in Northwest Washington. Aileen set up a table at Mary Graydon to recruit and coordinate volunteers to participate.  Students donated 50 lunches each day for the entire week – a total of 250 lunches.  "Our consumers really appreciated these boxed lunches and drinks," said Bill Long, Director of Volunteer and Community Education Services at Friendship Place.

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Campus Plan Update

Campus Plan Task Force

Work on AU's 2011 Campus Plan, a master facilities plan for the next decade, continues to move forward.  The university will hold another meeting on Tuesday, May 25, with its Campus Plan Task Force that includes more than three dozen neighbors who live around the university. Task Force members recently toured the campus with AU planning officials. While the university is planning for only modest growth in the number of new students, its top priorities include new dorms to improve existing housing, and to bring more current students living off-campus back into dorms on campus.  AU plans to build new student housing on the eight acres of campus property at the intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues, currently used as a parking lot. A possible new home for the Washington College of Law on AU's Tenleytown campus is also under consideration. "American University is pursuing its long-standing educational mission with a strategic plan that emphasizes significant improvements in quality with only modest growth," said AU President Neil Kerwin. "It is our intention to make these changes – and conduct all of our activities – in a manner that brings minimal disruption and substantial benefit to our many communities of interest."  For information about the new Campus Plan, and information presented to past meetings of the Campus Plan Task Force, visit our Campus Plan Web site.

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AU Arboretum and Gardens Sponsors Spring Plant Sale

Plant Sale

We'd like to thank our neighbors who joined us on a recent Saturday morning for our first spring plant sale on the quad, hosted by the AU Arboretum and Gardens.  Our expert landscape/grounds staff won raves from the crowd for their "how to" demonstrations on container gardening, and their advice on which plants work best in sun and shade gardens.  All sales from the event went to support the AU Arboretum and Gardens.



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AU Museum Features Sculpture Garden Exhibition

Sculpture being assembled

Photo by Benjamin Bishop

Join us at a free opening reception at the AU Museum in the Katzen Center on Saturday, May 8, from 6-9 p.m. to celebrate the museum's Late Spring 2010 shows. Meet more than 15 artists from around the world, see a dance performance, and bring a personal photo to become part of a future work by an exhibiting artist.  Programmed by emerging curators in AU's Arts Management Program, inSPIRATion is 15 inspirational shows in one, from graffiti art and spoken word to vanishing photography and junk-clock sculpture. Other exhibits opening on May 8 include Emergence, a glittering glacial pavilion almost 130 feet long and 30 feet high by San Francisco artist Georgia June Goldberg; Family Trees , a metaphorical portrait of the Brzezinski family, crafted out of Emilie Brzezinski's trademark monumental freestanding, natural wood sculptures; and, No, Global Tour,  a large sculpture of the letters NO, conceived as an international touring work by artist Santiago Sierra that has travelled by truck bed through Europe, New York City, and Miami, and represents "the clearest exercise of the right to dissent before reality as a whole."



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Documentary Film Producer Chris Palmer Featured at Upcoming Reception

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking director Chris Palmer canoes with students in Florida during Classroom in the Wild

Please join us for a free reception and book signing on May 20 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations as part of its new Faculty Down the Road program series. The event will feature Professor Chris Palmer who will talk about Shooting in the Wild: An Insider's Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom.  Using clips from his award-winning films on bears, wolves, whales, and dolphins, the veteran producer offers a preview of his insights into the wildlife film business from his new book Shooting in the Wild (Sierra Club Books).  In his book, he reveals a dark side to this world:  a pervasive and troubling trend toward sensationalism, extreme risk-taking, and even wildlife abuse in filmmaking. The reception and book signing will be held at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda, 7400 Wisconsin Ave., 1 Bethesda Metro Center. For more information and to register for the event, call Dan Beardslee at 202-885-5962 by Friday, May 14.

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AU Finishes Third in Nationwide RecycleMania Competition

Recycle Mania Logo

Some people might call our students, faculty, and staff "RecycleManiacs," but it's a label we like.   AU won third place in the 2010 RecycleMania Competition with more than 600 colleges and universities. In the 10-week competition, which measured recycling as a percentage of total waste, AU's recycling rate was 64.90 percent.  We finished just behind California State University-San Marco (71.82 percent rate) and New Mexico University (69.05 percent rate).  What's impressive is that when RecycleMania ended, more than 84.5 million pounds of recyclables and organics had been recovered by all the schools that participated – preventing the release of nearly 137,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. For more information on RecycleMania, visit or AU's Sustainability Web site and learn more about what you can do to reduce, reuse, recycle and be more sustainable.

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AU Teacher/Neighbor Named Most Innovative “Green” Teacher of the Year

Victoria Kiechel

AU neighbor Vicky Kiechel, who teaches Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Design/LEED Training at AU's School of International Service, received this year's university award as the Most Innovative Green Teacher of the Year.  The Green Teaching Program was started in August, 2008, by the university's Center for Teaching, Research and Learning and the student group EcoSense to promote sustainability on campus and in the classroom and to recognize faculty for their efforts.  Faculty can qualify for a Green Teaching Certificate by incorporating sustainability into the courses they teach. More than 125 faculty members have been certified this year and have taught more than 500 courses.  In Kiechel's LEED class, for example, students assessed existing offices across the AU campus to evaluate natural lighting and views.


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May Calendar of Events

Filmmaker Barbara Kopple will speak at the American University School of Communication 2010 Commencement Ceremony

Check out the May Calendar of Events.








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