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AU in the Neighborhood Newsletter

May 2014

May 2014

Dear Neighbors:

You may be aware of a recent, alleged assault of an AU student by other AU students near the campus, as well as a string of emails released by an anonymous source describing behaviors and activities that, if proven to have occurred, would constitute violations of District law as well as American University’s Student Code of Conduct. The University takes these matters very seriously and is addressing them both internally, through the Student Conduct process, and in cooperation with several law enforcement agencies.

To learn more about American University’s actions to date and plans to address these issues, please visit

Gail Hanson

Vice President for Campus Life

American University

How to Contact Us

Office of Community Relations
(202) 885-2167

Public Safety
non-emergency: (202) 885-2527
emergency: (202) 885-3636
Community Incident Reporting Form

Dean of Students
(202) 885-3300

Parking & Traffic Office
(202) 885-3111

Spring Exhibits at the AU Museum

AU Katzen Museum

Exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center this spring showcase the diversity of American and global artists, while encouraging viewers to contemplate past events and contemporary times. The Museum is open to all of AU’s neighbors.

An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle, showing now through Sunday, Aug. 17, features work by Jess Collins, known simply as Jess, and his partner, the poet Robert Duncan. Soon after meeting in San Francisco in the early 1950s, they began a romantic and professional partnership that lasted until Duncan’s death. They merged their personal and artistic lives by exploring a mutual interest in cultural mythologies, transformative narrative, and the appropriation of images. Jess’ collages and drawings often were published to accompany Duncan’s poems and essays. In turn, Duncan’s writings and ideas made their way into Jess’ dense and allusive works. The couple’s gatherings at their San Francisco home served as a salon and gallery space for their artist friends.

This exhibition looks at Jess’ and Duncan’s influence and unique position as precursors of Postmodernism, and will present works by the couple, along with a selection of works by the couple’s artist friends. Commenting on the show, AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen observed, “The Beat Generation is the antidote to our increasingly monetized contemporary art world – more transformative than strategic, more collaborative than entrepreneurial.”

Double Mirror, showing now through June 1, features the works of 30 Korean and Korean-American artists. Paintings, drawings, photography, reliefs, video projection, and other installations convey the complexity and richness of the reflective processes inherent to being a creative wanderer in the mainstream art world. Artworks also explore the challenges of being a minority or an outsider in the United States.

Mynd Alive / BK ADAMS•I AM ART features outdoor sculpture by BK ADAMS and runs through Sunday, August 17. Of Adams’ work, The Washington Post journalist Michael O’Sullivan wrote that it “evoke[s] the squiggles of Jackson Pollock, the graffiti-like scribbles of Jean-Michel Basquiat and African figuration, all topped with a healthy sense of humor and play that keeps the work from seeming derivative.”

Brink and Boundary showing now through Sunday August 17, invites viewers to experience how spaces often overlooked and forgotten in the Katzen Arts Center – its emergency stairwell, entryway, elevator, and exterior – can transform with surprising and inventive installations. New and interactive technologies in sound and video redefine the boundaries of traditional exhibition spaces.

The Neighbors, curated by AU professors Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud, runs through June 1. The show features painting, sculpture, video, and installations by teaching artists from 13 Washington, DC-area universities and colleges.

Students in pursuit of Masters of Fine Arts degrees at AU will showcase their work in Perambulators which opens Saturday, April 26, and runs through May 12. The show features an exciting range of art including works in painting, sculpture, collage and material studies, photography, and new media.

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AU Commencement Ceremonies Slated for May 10, 11, and 18

AU Commencement

AU schools and colleges will hold their 2014 graduation ceremonies in Bender Arena on Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11. The Washington College of Law commencement will take place on Sunday, May 18, also in Bender Arena. The university anticipates increased activity around campus, as families and friends visit for the occasion.

All parking areas on campus will be open for commencement. The Nebraska Avenue lot and Katzen Arts Center and SIS parking garages are recommended for graduates and guests. Parking also will be available, but limited, in the Sports Center Garage and in lots adjacent to Bender Arena to accommodate guests with special needs.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will be on hand to assist AU Public Safety with traffic control at the Katzen Arts Center garage, the intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues, NW, and Ward Circle.

American University awarded its first degrees (two doctorates and one master’s degree) in 1916 at a commencement ceremony held in the university’s amphitheater. AU commencements have grown over the years as the university has become larger and more diverse. More than two thousand students from AU’s six schools and colleges participate in commencement ceremonies each year.

For additional information on AU’s 2014 commencement, please visit

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AU Staffer Leads Youth from Hoops to Higher Ed

Donald Curtis

On Saturdays, American University’s Donald Curtis meets 15 youths at 9 a.m. to play basketball. It’s an early start for most teenagers, but the outdoor court can get dicey later in the day. Aside from scattered glass shards, gangs stake claim to the blacktop as afternoon arrives.

While Curtis is an avid basketball player and fan, it’s not just the sport that brings him to the Washington, DC public housing community of Clay Terrace. His real mission here is to encourage, educate, and empower the local youths. Curtis, who is a programs and operations coordinator at AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service, also is one of the founders of the nonprofit Student-Athletes Organized to Understand Leadership (SOUL). The organization uses athletics as a gateway to academic and professional development for at-risk boys and young men.

“Anytime a kid puts on one of our jerseys and they play well or they play badly, they have a vision of themselves playing at the college or professional level,” he said. “That’s the college access point.”

In less than a year since its inception, SOUL has gathered considerable momentum and backing for its holistic approach to youth development. The program currently meets on Saturdays and is planning to create a full-time summer camp. Youths participating in the program receive literacy instruction from a local DC professor, professional development, and basketball coaching from private trainer Shawn Samuels whose clients have gone on to play at Duke and the University of Kentucky, among other places.

Curtis explains that the SOUL program is more than just about playing basketball or introducing college as an ideal. He explained, “We can get our kids to college, but we have to figure out how to get them prepared first.”

To address the academic preparation aspect, Curtis and SOUL work with American University’s Community Service – Learning Program to offer mentoring and tutoring services provided by university student interns who, in turn, receive course credits. SOUL also collaborates with local companies to hold career-day visits and internship opportunities at local offices.

Curtis’ aim is to shift at-risk youths’ expectations and self-images, as well as change corporate perspectives of youths. “Part of these career days with kids is actually to build a level of trust with business so they can see these kids as more than just poor kids from the community, but young kids with minds who aspire to achieve more.”

Corporate interest has been encouraging. Recently, SOUL hosted its inaugural Corporate Basketball Challenge at the Verizon Center – home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards. After raising funds through entry fees, company teams, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Evolent Health, Advisory Board Company, and Royal Bank of Canada all competed with the youths from SOUL. The funds raised will help SOUL strengthen its summer program and resources.

Marcy Campos, director of AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service, views Curtis’ successes with SOUL as an extension of the work he does for the university. “In his six years at AU, Donald has demonstrated a strong commitment to equity and social justice in every aspect of his work, on campus and off,” she said. “He is a leader who speaks from the heart and practices what he preaches.”

Curtis, who was once a teen who played on a glass-strewn court similar to that at Clay Terrace, hopes to pass on the same motivation that he received from his high school basketball team to the youths in the SOUL program. “Somebody helped me in this way. Somebody pushed me to do a little bit more. They used sports as a mechanism to get me to college. I’m trying to do the same now,” said Curtis.

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AU Invites Neighbors To DC Invasives Day at Turtle Park


The Little Falls Watershed Alliance invites neighbors to participate in DC Invasives Day on Saturday, May 3 from 1 – 3 p.m. at Friendship (aka Turtle) Park, located at 45th Street and Van Ness Streets, NW.

Volunteers will work to remove invasive vines and non-native plants that are killing trees around the park and focus especially on the trees between the athletic fields. Tools and gloves will be made available and volunteers are asked to wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes.

The Little Falls Watershed Alliance was started in 2008 to protect the natural environment in lower Montgomery County and adjacent DC neighborhoods, and to ensure that the natural spaces in the area remain vibrant for generations to come.

For additional information, please visit the Little Falls Watershed Alliance website.

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AU Designated A Tree Campus USA University

Tree Campus USA

American University again has been designated a Tree Campus USA University by the Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. This marks the sixth year in a row that AU has received this designation – the only university in the District of Columbia to hold this distinction. AU also hosts the only university arboretum in Washington, DC.

The 2014 designation was announced during the university’s 21st annual Campus Beautification Day, held April 22. Campus Beautification Day provides students, faculty, staff, and neighbors an opportunity to pitch in to help beautify the campus by planting new trees, shrubs, and flowers. The event is a university tradition which incorporates both campus beautification and sustainability goals and strives to build and strengthen the AU community.

To earn the Tree Campus USA distinction, the university met five core standards of tree care and community engagement. They include the creation of a campus tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, verification of dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree-care plan, involvement in an Arbor Day observance, and the institution of a service-learning project to engage the student body.

AU Landscape Architect Michael Mastrota said, “We’re proud to be recognized as a Tree Campus USA University by the Arbor Day Foundation. To be named six years in a row makes it especially special. Trees are a very important part of our campus and our community. The Tree Campus USA program helps us celebrate our love of trees, but more importantly, it helps us educate the community about the many values that trees provide to our environment.”

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SPExS Announces New Offerings

AU's School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS) presents a new certificate program for adult women in transitional stages of their lives, called LEAD – Leadership, Empowerment and Professional Development. While the certificate is earned by taking four courses, students also may opt to take the courses individually.

Professor Iris Krasnow (, a best-selling author of books on women's issues will teach two LEAD courses to be offered in September:

Voices of Women – an immersion in the study of women authors through the ages with the purpose of self-reflection and redirection in personal and professional lives.

Write Well (and Get Published) – course offers instruction in journalistic style, feature article writing, the art of the memoir, blogging, and how to get published.

Additionally, SPExS will offer the following courses in May, as well as in the fall:

Women and Leadership (beginning May 21)

This course will help women lead more thoughtfully and effectively in the workplace, in membership organizations, or in personal relationships. The course also will help participants better understand the distinct challenges and opportunities women face when assuming a leadership role, and provide them with choices for their leadership.

Mastering Digital and Social Media (beginning May 20)

In an increasingly digital world, leaders must master social media to spread their messages and enhance their clout. In this class, participants learn about the appropriate uses of different social and digital media tools for both personal branding goals and organizational purposes. This course teaches the uses of several different digital and social media tools to demonstrate expertise; promote a cause, product, or organization; or reach a wider spectrum of audiences.

For registration and further information on instructors and courses, please visit: Space is limited, so be sure to enroll today.

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Another Successful Campus Beautification Day

CBD at 4401

American University celebrated its 21st annual Campus Beautification Day on Earth Day, April 22. One of the university’s enduring traditions, Campus Beautification Day brought together a group of more than 350 people comprising faculty, staff, students, and neighbors to help beautify the campus by planting new trees, shrubs, and flowers.

As a result of the community’s day-long efforts:

·240 cubic yards of mulch were spread at various sites throughout the AU campus

·220 trees and shrubs were planted, as well as more than 3800 perennials and ornamental grasses

·A new rain garden was installed next to Hughes Hall

·A new ornamental garden was installed at the entrance to Kreeger Hall.

·Three native Red Bud trees, three Arrowwood Viburnums, and more than 80 perennials, annuals, shrubs and ornamental grasses were planted at 4401 Connecticut Ave., NW.

The day also featured Earth Month-related speakers, performances, workshops, and symposia throughout the campus as well as the annual barbecue.

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Calendar of Events


May 3, 4 p.m.

AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Join the artist BK Adams for a discussion on his exhibition MYND ALIVE.

Yoga in the Galleries

May 7, 10 a.m. and May 21, 10 a.m.

AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Led by certified Kripalu Yoga teacher Eva Blutinger, this yoga class is a great opportunity to de-stress and start your day with mental clarity, relaxation, and art. Please bring a mat.

Gallery Talk: Brink and Boundary

May 17, 4 p.m.

AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Join curator Danielle O’Steen for a discussion on the exhibition Brink and Boundary.

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