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President's Message | Reports & Announcements


September 14, 2016

TO: AU Community
FROM: Neil Kerwin, President
SUBJECT: Gift of Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA

I am pleased to announce that American University has received the generous gift of the Airlie Center from the Airlie Board of Directors. Airlie is a magnificent property that includes the historic Airlie house and village of guest rooms and meeting facilities set on more than 300 acres in Warrenton, Virginia.

For over half a century, Airlie has been welcoming global leaders, heads of state, and diplomats who have convened at the storied Virginia estate for conferences and programs dedicated to social progress, education, environmental research, and public health. Airlie succeeded in becoming a world-renowned meeting and conference destination, a place LIFE magazine heralded as “an island of thought.”

Airlie was one of the first conference facilities of its kind in the country, a center where individuals and organizations could meet in a distraction–free and neutral environment to candidly exchange ideas on issues, ignite thought, and inspire collective action around shared interests, purpose, and values. Early conversations among participants in the Civil Rights Movement established Airlie as a supportive venue for dialogue. Airlie was the venue for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s first annual conference in 1962; the place where, in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson made public his concept of Earth Day; the site of significant gatherings aimed at peace in both Northern Ireland and the former Republic of Yugoslavia, and the home of groundbreaking ultralight-led migration studies with Trumpeter swans and Canadian geese that resulted in restoration programs for endangered whooping cranes and other species.

The university is honored to have been selected for this wonderful gift. It is our intent to carry on the very impressive and important legacy of Airlie, while leveraging this marvelous facility for American University’s academic initiatives. We will rely on the deans and academic leaders to lead those discussions.

I want to thank Doug Kudravetz, CFO, Vice President and Treasurer; Mary Kennard, General Counsel; and Professor Bob Karch for their work with the Airlie Board of Directors to realize their plans for this remarkable gift to AU.

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