Spring 2012 President's Message (April 30, 2012)
(President Neil Kerwin) I’m Neil Kerwin, president of American University. Springtime and the cherry blossoms came early to Washington, and the 126th commencement of our university is rapidly approaching. Then we will celebrate the remarkable and many achievements of our graduating classes.
They came to us to educate themselves and to prepare themselves for a lifetime of accomplishment. They leave us well prepared to deal with some of the great challenges of our time. Fully 58 percent have studied abroad. Eighty-five percent have interned in some of the most important and significant organizations and institutions in Washington, across the nation, and indeed around the world.
(Student) Since I’ve been in D.C., I’ve interned at the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. I’ve also interned at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, and currently I’m interning at the U.S. State Department’s Economic and Business Bureau’s Office of Development and Finance.
(President Neil Kerwin) We’re very proud of our student award winners. Their accomplishments demonstrate the American University can compete and succeed at the highest levels of academic and professional competition.
The quality of our academic programs and the significance of our faculty are also being recognized. US News & World Report ranked our School of Public Affairs 12th in the United States, and the American Society for Public Administration this year gave Professor Robert Durant the Dwight Waldo Award, the highest honor that they can bestow on a scholar in that field.
Our Kogod School of Business moved up five places in the Business Week/Bloomberg rankings, and our Washington College of Law this year was named by Legal Times having the finest clinical legal education program and the finest LLM in the region.
This year we experienced a 50 percent increase in early decision applicants for the freshman class, a strong indication that larger numbers of students are selecting American University as their first choice for study.
We continue to celebrate philanthropic investment in our faculty and programs, including Susan Lehrman’s generous gift of $2 million to create a chair in Russian history and culture in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Continuing our long tradition of learning from leaders, we hosted extraordinary speakers on the campus this spring. President Bill Clinton joined us and accepted the first WONK of the Year Award from our Kennedy Political Union.
Governors Perry and Brewer from Texas and Arizona spoke to our students during the height of the Republican primary campaign season.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined by the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to discuss major education reform in our cities.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron, wife of the British prime minister, came to campus, met with olympic gold medalists to promote the summer games, and Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.
Our campus will always be a destination for bright, inquiring minds, famous or not. Our transformational campus plan will provide on-campus housing for greater numbers of our students. It will create a new home for our Washington College of Law. It will provide for more space for our core academic activities and provide a new home for WAMU, our leading public broadcasting station.
Construction begins this spring to transform the McKinley Building into a new home for our School of Communication. It was given a great boost with a $1.5 million gift from Trustee Emeritus Michael Forman for a high-tech theater, one of the many innovative features planned for that facility.
With these and other projects, we will maintain our commitment to be carbon neutral by the year 2020. With eight other university presidents from the region, I signed Mayor Vincent Gray’s sustainability pledge in an effort to ensure Washington, D.C., and its universities remain leaders in sustainability.
Our women’s basketball team, our wrestling squad, our field hockey team had great success on the field and in the classroom. Visit the athletics website to review all of the successes of all of our teams this past spring.
Thank you for making this a memorable semester. I look forward to hearing from you, and as always, seeing you on campus.