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President's Message | Reports & Announcements


April 30, 2012

 TO: Campus Community
 FROM: Neil Kerwin, President
 SUBJECT: End of Semester Update


As the academic year draws to a close, this is my final written update on a number of issues, to complement my April 30 video message.

Financial Condition
The financial condition of the university remains strong. We will complete fiscal year 2012 on target with our revenue goals and expense budgets, including funding for the third year of strategic plan implementation. As approved by the board in February 2011, we will begin fiscal year 2013 with a $573 million operating budget and will advance our larger goals in the fourth year of strategic plan implementation. I encourage you to view the university budget and funding priorities online (

Enrollment Prospects for Summer and Fall

The enrollment picture for the summer and fall semesters is taking shape as registration is in progress for both terms. While online summer undergraduate enrollment continues to be as strong as last year, overall summer enrollment lags comparatively at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Because of changes to this year’s registration schedule, year-to-date comparisons of fall undergraduate and graduate enrollment is challenging at this time, and a more accurate assessment will be available in May. For fall semester, the Washington College of Law full-time enrollment is solid. Overall graduate enrollment for fall is lower than anticipated but is at the same level as two years ago with considerable variability in the school and college deposits, with SPA, Kogod, and SOC falling below their historic pace.

The fall 2012 undergraduate admission cycle is drawing to a close. To date, 17,045 applications have been received, the second highest total number of applications in AU history. Acceptance letters were mailed on March 20, and we continue to monitor deposits in anticipation of National Candidate’s Reply Date on May 1. The admissions staff doubled its outreach to admitted students this year, hosting 24 conversion events in targeted cities. Although transfer student admission deposits received are below past performance levels, undergraduate deposits match the numbers received this time last year.

Campus Plan and Tenley Approval
In March I reported that American University had earned Zoning Commission approval for the first two parts of the campus plan, which enables us to proceed with construction of major projects such as the North Residence Hall facility; Nebraska Residence Hall addition; and the entire East Campus project on what is now the Nebraska Avenue parking lot.

On April 9, we earned Zoning Commission approval of the final part of the campus plan—construction of the Washington College of Law at the Tenley campus. In the next few weeks, the Zoning Commission will issue the written orders that outline the specific understandings reached and the obligations we will fulfill. American University will honor our commitments with the District and the surrounding neighborhoods, as we improve our campus and better serve our students, faculty, staff, and local community.

These construction and renovation enhancements will provide the facilities to match AU’s academic standing and reputation. Work will begin immediately, with the construction of North Hall and the Nebraska Hall addition starting as spring semester ends; our goal is to finish both projects by next summer for use in fall semester 2013. The new law school construction will begin in summer 2013 and East Campus in summer 2014.

It is inevitable these projects will affect daily campus life and travel patterns. When coupled with other facilities upgrades such as the renovation of McKinley for the School of Communication and 4401 Connecticut Avenue for WAMU, several academic programs, and University Communications and Marketing—construction, renovation, and relocation will be ongoing for the next four years. We will keep the campus informed through ongoing communication; a dedicated website is now being created to provide project updates, timelines, and information.

Never before has AU undertaken this much change at one time to our physical campus, with two of the projects on a fast track for completion. But never before has American University had such a transformational opportunity.

New Deans
In the coming weeks, we welcome two new deans—Jeffrey Rutenbeck to the School of Communication and Barbara Romzek to the School of Public Affairs; and I again say “thanks” to retiring deans Larry Kirkman and Bill LeoGrande for their stellar work and the legacy they leave.

Middle States Accreditation
Every 10 years, American University must seek reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and conduct an extensive self-study and assessment of the pursuit of our higher education objectives. Our last one was in 2003–2004. The process will result in a thorough report and site visit by a peer review team from Middle States in 2014. In addition to posing fundamental questions on whether AU is meeting its academic objectives, the study provides a chance to identify current and future challenges and how we plan to remedy them.

Our two-year effort has begun and is cochaired by Karen Froslid Jones, director of Institutional Research and Assessment, and Robert Blecker, chair of the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. A steering committee has been assembled, subcommittees formed, and study questions are being compiled. We will keep the campus informed of the project status and opportunities to be involved.

President’s Award
I am pleased to announce that the 2012 winner of the President’s Award is Carol Foster, a graduating senior in the School of Public Affairs. As a CLEG major (Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government) she earned a 3.96 GPA while taking classes in the Honors program and the SPA Leadership program. She was a 2011 Truman Scholarship National finalist, director of AU’s Bike Lending program, and vice president of Sigma Delta Tau sorority. Her personal, research, and volunteer interests have demonstrated a tremendous interest in environmental sustainability, and freshwater systems and transportation infrastructure improvements. The President’s Award is given to the undergraduate student who best exemplifies American University’s ideals of scholarship and service to both campus and community. The award will be presented to Carol at the SPA graduation on Sunday, May 13.

Other student award winners also are being announced this week and the recipients will be honored during commencement weekend. This includes awards for outstanding scholarship at the undergraduate and graduate levels, outstanding service to the university community, and ten student achievement awards. More information on each award and this year’s winner is available on the student awards website.

Commencement Ceremonies and Speakers

AU will confer degrees on more than 3,500 undergraduate, graduate, and law school students at 2012 commencement ( on Saturday, May 12; Sunday, May 13; and Sunday, May 20.

The ceremonies and this year’s honorees on May 12 include

  • 9 a.m., School of Communication—Tom Curley, Associated Press president and CEO, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree
  • 1 p.m., Kogod School of Business—Barbara Krumsiek, Calvert Investments president and CEO, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree
  • 4:30 p.m., School of International Service—Rajiv Shah, U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, will receive an honorary doctor of international affairs degree

On May 13 the honorees include

  • 9 a.m., School of Public Affairs—Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton, cochair of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and former President of the University of North Carolina system, will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree
  • 1 p.m., College of Arts and Sciences—Wayne Clough, Smithsonian Institution secretary and former president of Georgia Tech, will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree

On May 20, the honoree is

  • 1 p.m., Washington College of Law—Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree

WAMU 88.5

In its 50th anniversary year, WAMU 88.5 has earned a new standing in the local radio market. For the first time ever, WAMU is the #1 station in the Washington, D.C., metro area with a 7.5 share of all radio listening. Based on the winter 2012 Arbitron readings (which measured listening for the first three months of 2012), the total audience (not including web or streaming) is 744,800 weekly listeners, which includes 619,400 in Washington and 125,400 in Baltimore. Also for the first time, in the D.C. market WAMU is #1 in morning drive time as well as #3 in afternoon drive time. The “Diane Rehm Show” is #2 for its time segment. On weekends, WAMU is #1 (6 a.m. to midnight) Saturday and Sunday; Metro Connection Saturday was #1, The Animal House #2, Hot Jazz Saturday Night is #1 in the market among listeners 35 years and older and The Big Broadcast is #1.

These significant station milestones reflect a number of “first time ever” claims. Full credit goes to station management, staff, on air talent, and station supporters across the Washington, D.C., region. Of course, the program ratings are only part of the good news, as work continues on the renovation designs for WAMU’s new home at 4401 Connecticut Avenue. Work will begin this summer on a rapid scenario that should have WAMU 88.5 operating from its new home one year from now.

Communications and Marketing
American University and America’s favorite pastime have joined forces in an AU-Washington Nationals partnership. In keeping with our strategic objective to raise visibility and extend recognition in the Greater Washington metro area, the deal for 81 games in April, May, August, and September, includes advertising opportunities in the park prior to and during games, as well as TV and radio promotions leading up to “Celebrate AU Night” on August 31 when the Nats face the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. That night, 20,000 fans will receive AU T-shirts; tickets will be available free (for 200 students) and discounted for alumni, faculty, and staff; and I will have the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Fans will be treated to a double eagle sighting as Clawed and Screech join in the festivities. More details on our plans to fill the park with AU friends and family will be shared when everyone returns for fall semester.

Web Updates
Two important enhancements will be made to AU’s web presence progress over the next few weeks. First, the “beta” launch of AU’s mobile web presence has gone “live” with functions that access services ranging from library search to shuttle tracker and dining menus. Emphasis has been placed on delivering services in high demand among students, faculty, and staff; using device agnostic functionality; and leveraging existing software and resources. The Web Steering Committee will collect feedback on Phase I of the mobile web over the spring and summer as they scale up for more functionality for fall semester.

Second, AU’s content management system will receive an important upgrade in early June, providing content publishers with new tools and improved work flow. The latest version of the software will also lay the ground work for enhancements including more robust faculty profiles, better integration with social media tools, and improved site performance. The upgrade will not interrupt the presentation of content on the website, but there will be a short, three day freeze on additions or changes to content (except in an emergency) while the change is implemented. Content publishers across the university will be briefed periodically leading up to the switch.

Development and Alumni Relations
We were pleased to share great development news this spring, with two substantial gifts from university friends. Trustee Emeritus Michael Forman made a gift of $1.5 million for the School of Communication Building Campaign, naming the Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater, a 150-seat venue that will be at the heart of SOC’s teaching and connection to the community. Susan E. Lehrman has established the Susan E. Lehrman Chair of Russian History and Culture, enhancing the foundation of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Initiative on Russian Culture, which has made a significant impact on campus during this academic year. In addition to catalyzing further giving in our community, these gifts will provide tremendous support for those units and we are grateful to the donors for their generosity and vision.

We have had a number of successful alumni events across the country this spring, including receptions in Seattle, Denver, and Minneapolis-St.Paul, which I enjoyed attending. A recent event in Washington capped the academic year by attracting more than 600 alumni (a record in recent history) to the Hotel Monaco in Chinatown. The success of these events demonstrates the increasing commitment of our alumni to be engaged in the life of AU.


In closing, I thank everyone who made the year and university successful. Good luck on exams and congratulations to the graduating students—our newest alumni.

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