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AU in the Neighborhood Newsletter

AU campus in Fall

September 2010

Segue from summer to fall


 We don’t usually think of DC as a college town – but maybe we should. According to the Consortium of Colleges and Universities, there are 120,000 undergraduate and graduate students in DC. Our universities are also some of the city’s largest employers and contribute millions of dollars in tax revenue. For example, AU visitors, students, faculty, and staff contribute $50 million annually to the DC economy. Giving back to the city also is a key component of university life. At AU more than 83,422 hours of volunteer service were donated to 169 DC-area nonprofit organizations in 2008-2009. This past August, more than 600 AU freshmen fanned out across the city to places including the Capital Area Food Bank, the Washington Home, and a number of schools and parks to contribute 13,660 volunteer hours as part of Freshman Service Experience (FSE). See the story in the Northwest Current in its Aug. 25 issue.   

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School of International Service Open House

School of International Service atrium

Please join us for a neighborhood “Open House” at our new School of International Service on Wednesday, September 22, from 2 – 4 p.m. We’ll have refreshments and tours of our newest “green” building with its light-filled glass atrium, skylights, rain gardens, and a passive solar heating system. The 70,000- square foot building is expected to be certified LEED Gold by the U.S Green Building Council. The new building is also home to one of the most popular campus meeting spots – the Davenport Lounge – where you can have morning coffee or afternoon chai in one of the eclectic mixes of donated mugs. Thanks to AU’s class of 2010, you can enjoy the new patio furniture outside the “Dav.”

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Community Green Roof Raising

This beautiful "meadow" is actually one of AU's green roofs! AU has the highest density of green roofs of any campus in DC.

Did you know that DC has the second largest number of green roofs in the country? Now there’s one more. In fact, AU now has four green roofs, which is the highest density of green roofs on a DC campus. Building on the theme of an old-fashioned barn raising, some 50 students, faculty, staff, and neighbors pitched in to install a new green roof on the Kogod School of Business over Labor Day weekend. Under the direction of DC Greenworks, low-maintenance plants were installed on the 2,500-square foot, ground-level roof at Kogod. The group included residents from nearby McLean Gardens who are interested in learning about the benefits of installing green roofs in their own community. AU also hosted last week’s meeting of the Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Council.

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What's a Wonk?

Wonks at Work: students volunteering during FSE

In a city where abbreviations and government acronyms reign, WONK — which is KNOW spelled backwards — is a familiar word. Wonk is defined as: (1) a hard-working, intellectually curious person — an expert in a field — such as a physics wonk; (2) a knowledgeable Washington insider — a policy wonk; and, (3) someone focused on an issue and passionate about creating meaningful change in the world that could be a financial reform wonk, a human rights wonk, or a sustainability wonk. In the coming weeks, you’ll see and read a lot more about Wonk, as it becomes part of a new AU branding campaign — Policy Wonks, Art Wonks, Community Wonks, Athletic Wonks, Legal Wonks, and much more — featured in designs by Alumni-Wonk Nat Beeler, cartoonist for the Washington Examiner.

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AU Museum Artists' Reception to Celebrate Fall Exhibits

BG Muhn, From the series Lover, Empress

Join us at the AU Museum on Saturday, September 11 from 6 – 9 p.m. for a free artists’ reception to celebrate the opening of the early fall exhibitions. BG Muhn’s first painting installation, Love Affair of the Empress, features more than 70 mythical Chinese empresses, created using a variety of techniques. RE-VISION features works by AU alumni. The exhibits also include Luciano Peny: Time, News, Paintings, and Natural Forms; Alan Binstock’s Way-Finders; and Norse Soul-The Legacy of Edvard Munch, Social Democracy, Old Myths, Anarchy and Death Longings. The AU Museum is located in the Katzen Arts Center. There is free parking for this event under the Katzen.

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Alumni Book Club

A new book club series for AU alumni was launched this month at the home of AU President Neil Kerwin, hosted by his wife Ann, also an AU graduate. The series will include diverse works by AU alums with a reception and talk by the authors. Alumni from around the world can participate by reading the books in the series, and submitting questions for guest authors before scheduled discussions. The September 1 launch featured The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. Stay tuned for more information about the next event, an All-American Weekend Author Panel on Saturday, October 23, at the Bender Library’s Mudbox Café. For more information about the book series and other alumni events, go to

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New Course on the 1960s Includes a Baby Boomer Film Festival

Film Festival Logo

If you have children who are in college, you’re probably a Baby Boomer. You’re also the subject of a new class that AU Public Communication professor Lenny Steinhom is teaching titled Talking About That 60’s Generation: Understanding Baby Boomers and How They Have Shaped Us. In conjunction with the course, we’re having a Baby-Boomer Film Festival starting September 15 that is being sponsored in part by our wonderful neighborhood Italian restaurant DeCarlo’s in Spring Valley. The 10 featured films are: Where the Boys Are, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Alice’s Restaurant, The War at Home, Easy Rider, Coming Home, The Big Chill, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More, and Network. The films will be shown at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Wechsler Theater on the third floor of Mary Graydon. Dates for each film are listed in the September calendar below. It will be a groovy time, so come join us.

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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Keeps Growing

Olli attendees at a lecture

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute – better known as OLLI – kicks off its fall program this month with 70 study groups and some 600 participants, including many AU neighbors.  “We are going gang busters,” says OLLI’s Executive Director Anne Wallace. As their new fall catalog touts, “Word on the street is that it has become very cool to be a Study Group Leader at OLLI.”  The array of classes ranges from Great Decisions of 2010: Foreign Policy, to Why Conservatives/Liberals are Always Wrong, to "Do Jellyfish have Eyes?": Grandparenting Today. The program also offers a Fall Lecture Series that is free and open to the public. The series begins on September 28 with a conversation with DC Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) on major issues facing the District. Since it will be after the September 14 primary election, there will be lots to talk about. See the September calendar for more details.

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Former Balducci's Space Still Looking for Tenant

3201 New Mexico Ave

Many of our neighbors have been asking about our plans for the vacant space at 3201 New Mexico Avenue that was formerly Balducci’s. As we continue to solicit businesses that would serve the neighborhood best, as well as be able to thrive financially in this space, finding the “right combination” in this economy continues to be challenging. For more than a year, AU and our agent, Summit Commercial Real Estate, have been in discussions with many prominent market prospects including Trader Joe’s, Mom’s Organic Market, Organic to Go, Dean & Deluca, Yes! Organic Market, Epicurean, and Marvelous Market – just to name a few. While many gourmet and organic markets have expressed interest initially, they have passed on the space due to what they perceive as limitations with regards to the amount of space, hours for delivery, insufficient parking during prime hours, and potential customer traffic. Financing also has proved to be challenging in this economic market. We share the neighborhood’s desire to have a gourmet market, restaurant, or casual dining in this niche location, and continue our search. Prospective businesses that we continue to have discussions with include gourmet pizza restaurants, salad/health green casual dining, bakeries, delis and ethnic restaurants.

We hope to find a neighborhood-appropriate business to occupy the space as soon as possible, and will make an announcement once that happens. In the meantime, we appreciate everyone’s patience.

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AU Provides Parking for Janney Teachers and Staff

Teacher and Student at Janney Elementary

With construction under way for improvements at Janney Elementary School in Tenleytown, teachers and staff lost their places to park at the school. AU is providing teachers and staff free parking at our Nebraska Avenue parking lot and at Tenley campus. In addition, Janney students will use the field at our Tenley campus for recess and physical education classes.

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September Events

Tuesday, September 7 at 7 p.m.  Campus Plan Task Force Meeting. Mary Graydon Center, Rooms 5 & 6.

Saturday, September 11 at 5 p.m. Museum Gallery talk with artist B.G. Muhn. AU Museum in the Katzen Arts Center.

Saturday, September 11 from 6 – 9 p.m. Free Artists Reception at the AU Museum to celebrate the Early Fall Exhibitions. Katzen Arts Center. Free parking at the Katzen.

Sunday, September 12 at 1 p.m. Kids @ Katzen. American University Museum and Katzen Arts Center Rotunda. For kids 5 – 12. AU Art department, faculty, exhibiting artists, and volunteers lead children in creating original art based on themes in the AU Museum’s new exhibition RE-VISION featuring works by AU Alumni. $7 cash fee for materials. Free parking at the Katzen.

Wednesday, September 15 at 12 p.m. Table Talk Lunch Series sponsored by the Office of the University Chaplain, Kay Spiritual Life Center. Topic: China & the US: Development Models in China. $5 donation requested for lunch. Lower Level in the Kay Spiritual Life Center. Reservations required. RSVP 24 hours before event at (202) 885-3321 or at

Wednesday, September 15 at 7 p.m. Baby Boomer Film Festival screening of Where the Boys Are. Wechsler Theater, Mary Graydon Center, Third Floor.

Thursday, September 16 at 12 p.m.Table Talk Lunch Series at Kay Spiritual Life Center (see above for details) Topic: Gitmo Detainees: Military Commissions vs. Civilian Courts. RSVP 24 hours in advance at (202) 885-3321 or at

Thursday, September 16 at 6:30 p.m. Norwegian Design Symposium. Abramson Family Recital Hall in the Katzen Arts Center. Free parking is available at the Katzen.

Wednesday, September 22 from 2 – 4 p.m. Open House for neighbors at the new School of International Service Refreshments and tours of AU’s newest “green” building, located on Nebraska Avenue at the intersection with New Mexico Avenue.

Thursday, September 23 at 12 p.m. Table Talk Lunch Series at Kay Spiritual Life Center. Topic: Brazil Rising: Impact on the Hemisphere. RSVP 24 hours before event at (202) 885-3321 or at

Thursday, September 23 at 5:30 p.m. Human Rights Film festival. Abramson Family Recital Hall at the Katzen Arts Center. Free parking at the Katzen.

Friday, September 24 and Saturday, September 25 at 8 p.m. New Student Showcase: Almost Me and Outta Here. Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre. 4200 New Mexico Avenue. Box office: (202) 885-2587.

Saturday, September 25 at 4 p.m. Museum Gallery Talk with Alan Binstock. American University Museum.

Tuesday, September 28 from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s Tuesday Lecture Series. A Conversation with DC Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3). Free and open to the public. Temple Baptist Church, 3850 Nebraska Avenue, NW. Room 6/Lecture Hall. Parking is available at the Katzen Arts Center.

Tuesday, September 28 from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. The Films of Argentine Filmmaker Alejandro Agresti. Abramson Family Recital Hall. Katzen Arts Center.

Wednesday, September 29 at 12 p.m. Table Talk Lunch Series at Kay Spiritual Life Center. Topic: Congress Acts: Are Banks Still Too Big to Fail? RSVP 24 hours before event at (202) 885-331 or at

Wednesday, September 29 at 7 p.m. Baby Boomer Film Festival screening of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Wechsler Theater, Mary Graydon Center, Third Floor.

Wednesday, September 29 at 8 p.m. Memoir Reading: Joan Wickersham. Butler Board Room, Sixth Floor, Mary Graydon Center.

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