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Army Corps of Engineers, Project Update | Archive


August  9, 2007

TO: AU Campus Community
FROM: Neil  Kerwin, President-Elect
SUBJECT: Late  Summer Update

With the new academic year  nearly upon us, I will update the community on a number of developments, some  of which are central to our preparations for the start of school.

But, I'll start with  another word of thanks to the Board of Trustees for their support in appointing  me president of our university. It is a signal honor that I appreciate and welcome  as a great opportunity. I also want to thank the AU community for the many  expressions of encouragement I've received since the appointment was announced.  Having experienced (and benefited from) AU from a variety of perspectives—as a  student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, provost, parent, interim president,  donor and fan—as I said at the announcement of my appointment, I will work to  advance our university in a manner consistent with our mission and values. As  proud as we are of our past, we can look toward our future with excitement and  anticipation that AU's best years are ahead.


Fall Enrollments
We expect to welcome  close to 1300 new freshman to AU during Welcome Weeks in August—with almost 97 percent  having participated in orientation. In addition, some 350 transfer and a new  group of mentorship students will join our returning undergraduates to begin  their studies. The freshman numbers are lower than anticipated—a mild surprise  given the record number of applications received. The quality of our entering  freshman and transfer classes is strong, essentially unchanged from last year.  Study Abroad will enroll record numbers of AU students this fall and is  currently on track to do the same in the spring. Washington Semester will  enroll slightly below the levels set for its fall domestic component but the  non-credit international program will meet or exceed its target.


The returning student  component of our undergraduate enrollment is still developing, but no great  surprises appear to be in the offing. Student retention is of great importance  for AU; and while we compare favorably to national norms, efforts are underway  led by interim provost Ivy Broder to ensure this area gets serious and  concentrated attention in the coming years.


Graduate enrollments are  on target. There is some variation across the schools and colleges but most are  ahead of last year in deposits for their master's degree components. The  Washington College of Law will have another very strong year in numbers  enrolled and the qualifications of incoming students. Our doctoral programs  also will meet their goals.


The overall message of  this latest recruitment cycle is familiar. We work in a highly competitive and  challenging environment, and the extensive use of the common application and our  free, online application makes it increasingly difficult to predict enrollment  based on traditional indicators. Prospective students considering us and other  institutions focus on academic quality, cocurricular experiences and expected  value when making their enrollment decisions. These fundamental dynamics will  not change in the near future and we need to focus hard on them as well.


Consistent with the  current enrollment situation, our budget is essentially on track. We will  benefit from solid summer enrollments, which provide a positive start for  current fiscal year revenues. The fall revenue situation will be clearer when I  write again in September, but at present, considering what we know about those  figures and current expenditures, we should not confront significant  difficulties in keeping the budget in balance for this current fiscal year.


Emergency Preparedness
While it enters the  headlines only occasionally these days, the Virginia Tech tragedy remains fresh  in our minds. As we approach the start of the new academic year, it is  imperative that our entire community refresh its familiarity with our  procedures for dealing with various emergencies. We have an Emergency  Preparedness link on the university main page for that purpose, and I urge  everyone to take a few minutes and review those materials—including information on the D.C. Alert system, which allows  us to send text messages to parents, students, faculty, and staff in an  emergency. Throughout the year our emergency planning work group will  continue its efforts to ensure that we take every reasonable step to protect  our community while respecting the fundamental values that define a university.


Congratulations are in  order for the Office of Information Technology and everyone on campus involved  in the successful completion of the Datatel R-18 project. The upgrade was  completed on schedule on July 20, and to date, our business operations have  been functioning normally. Such a comprehensive project can become exasperating  – but the efforts of all across campus, led by the IT office, have made this  effort as smooth as possible. 


In addition, through the  summer we have continued to work with the Web design and consulting firm HUGE  to reach a practical understanding regarding the important work to be done to  reinvigorate AU's Web presence. The talks have been productive as we have  continued to drill down on the costs and scope of work for a first-phase  effort. We are very close to closure, and I expect an announcement around the  start of the school year. 


With the campus goals for  academic year 2007-08 in circulation this week, you will note that the $200  million Campaign for AnewAU remains a  high priority for us all. It is pleasing to note, building on the efforts of  the development office and the individual schools and units, that our campaign  total is now almost $143 million. We must re-double our efforts and commitment  to the campaign's success, which is fundamental to building a stronger  foundation for AU's future.


In other fund-raising  news, thanks and congratulations to the 2007 senior class for raising more than  $22,000 for their gift—an on-campus “Park and Park” and the Class of 2007  Endowed Scholarship. The “Park and Park” will combine picnic tables with a  stationary bike parking area; the scholarship will provide financial assistance  for one or more deserving students with demonstrated need. 


The facilities management  team uses the summer months to improve the teaching, learning, and living  spaces on campus through a series of upgrades and renovations. This  summer was particularly busy, with projects that included:

  • Nebraska Hall – Suite style housing for 113 students and a faculty apartment was created by gutting the old building interior. It will open for move-in on August 17.  
  • University Center/Mary Graydon First Floor – The north end was remodeled to open up the space and improve the lounge areas; it includes an expanded seating and gathering venue in what was formerly the Tavern. A new cyber-café area, expanded information desk, and quiet lounge will greet students returning to campus this fall. The entire floor has new or refurbished finishes that give it a more contemporary look. The first floor will reopen on August 17, and the food service venues on August 27. 
  • Leonard Hall – Many of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components were replaced as part of the regular schedule of residence hall refurbishment. The data cabling was also replaced to improve the speed and reliability of connections. 
  • Greenberg Track – A new track surface was installed.
  • Kogod Expansion – The KSB renovation got rolling this summer, with the gutting of the former Butler Instructional Center to add classrooms and offices for the Kogod School of Business. The target completion date is August 2008.  
  • Media Production Center – A new vegetative “green roof” was added as part of a regular maintenance/replacement plan. The green roof will reduce energy use.
  • Other Projects – Other north campus projects included the replacement of transformers, cabling, piping, manholes, and other equipment to save energy and improve system reliability. The amphitheater has been affected by a steam pipe replacement project, which will conclude in late August with site restoration and resumption of use by mid-September. 

Notable Recent Achievements
Our schools and units have maintained a strong pace of innovation, activity, and achievement over the summer and preparing for fall. A few examples:

  • College of Arts and Sciences – CAS partnered with the D.C. College Success Foundation to host 200 college-bound high school students from high-needs D.C. schools in Ward 8 for their first campus experience—a three-day program (supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) to introduce them to the process of selecting a both a college and a major and in preparing their applications. Also, the School of Education, Teaching and Health was awarded a $1,080,539 Transition to Teaching grant to recruit, train, and facilitate the retention of new teachers in Washington, D.C. high-needs schools.
  • School of Communication – This summer's Discover the World of Communication high school program, in collaboration with the National Student Leadership Conference, enrolled some 351 students (double from last year) taking 421 classes under the leadership of Professor Sarah Menke-Fish. Also, planning continues in a partnership between the SOC and USA Today to host a series of events at Katzen in September to mark the newspaper's 25th anniversary. Events will include an exhibition, American Forum, and special panel and reception with founder Alan Neuharth on September 10.
  • School of Public Affairs – The July issue of PS: Political Science and Politics ranks political science PhD      programs based on the success in placing graduates in tenure-track      positions at graduate universities. SPA is ranked 46th, one spot behind Syracuse and ahead of Maryland, GW, and Georgetown. Also, Dean Bill LeoGrande was selected to be a member of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Educators' Advisory Panel.
  • Washington College of Law – In June, the War Crimes Research Office at WCL launched the Summer Law Program in The Hague, Netherlands—a one-month, six-credit study abroad program that is a unique collaboration between the WCL and the T.M.C. Asser Institute, one of the most prominent international law research institutes in Europe. Twenty-six students (including 21 from AU), studied cutting-edge issues of international criminal law and legal approaches to terrorism, taught by judges and practitioners from universities and legal organizations. Integral to the program were visits to major courts and legal organizations in The Hague.
  • Kogod School of Business – Starting this past summer, Kogod began offering hybrid courses to provide students greater flexibility in the delivery mechanism and improved delivery of content in areas where technology is more efficient than face-to-face presentation. Hybrid courses are taught both online in an asynchronous fashion and in the classroom synchronously. Starting this fall, the Kogod MBA program will offer three of its core courses in a hybrid fashion. Student response has been positive, as they are excited about not only the later evening start time for classes, but also fewer on-campus classes per week; they take class online one evening, and on campus a second evening.
  • School of International Service– On June 9, the school celebrated the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking by reenacting the original event with more than 30 members of the Class of 1967 present for speeches and recollections. The next SIS groundbreaking event to begin construction of its new home is expected later this year.
  • WAMU – The spring Arbitron numbers revealed that WAMU 88.5 claimed some 656,900 listeners—a record high in the total service area and an almost 15percent increase in audience in the past year. This places WAMU as third most “listened to” public radio station in the nation.
  • Athletics – The fall sports season gets underway in late August, headlined with the  volleyball, cross country, and field hockey teams defending their respective sixth, fifth, and fourth consecutive Patriot League titles. Student athletes posted their highest combined GPA ever (3.32) spring semester. 
  • General Counsel – AU Vice President and General Counsel Mary Kennard is a finalist in the general counsel category of the Washington Business Journal's “Top Washington      Lawyer” awards program. The winners will be announced on September 11.

Army Corps of Engineers
In the weeks to come, the  Army Corps of Engineers will resume their work on the two AU owned residential  properties on Glenbrook Road  adjacent to campus—4825 and 4835. This means that 4835 Glenbrook (the  president's house) will be effectively unavailable for university use and  functions as of August 2007 and not available for use as a president's  residence or as a site for president-hosted events for the 2007-08 academic  year. We will be using other campus venues for our events. 


The work at 4825 Glenbrook  is, in essence, a return by the Army Corps to that site to complete work begun  some years ago. The nature of this work—which entails the removal of a known  cache of World War I munitions buried on the site—will require that the Army  Corps take ample safety precautions to protect the workers on site, the  residents along Glenbrook, and the adjacent area of the AU campus. We are  currently working with the Army Corps regarding their work plans and timelines  and  our expectations for the safety measures we insist they have in  place to ensure the protection of the campus community. We continue to have the  assistance of a leading environmental science consultant, Dr. Paul Chrostowski, to help us in defining these requirements. 


Those of us who have been  part of AU for even a short time are aware of the long tenure of the Army Corps  on our campus. The community is also used to periodic updates from me and other  AU administrators on the Corps activities. However, this familiarity should not  diminish our focus on the next round of work. It is significant, and when the schedule and safety precautions are finalized and the community returns from  summer break, we will provide a full briefing, will post pertinent information  on campus Web site devoted to the Army Corps operation, and will give this issue our sustained attention.


Housing & Dining Programs
More than 13,000  residents and guests were housed in the residence halls this summer, which  included AU summer school students, interns and conference participants. The  halls open for fall semester on August 17. In mid-June, Housing & Dining  Programs launched a new web site with Off Campus Partners, Inc., which permits  registrants to search current housing listings, post a new listing or use the  message board to find roommates, buy and sell furniture, and other aspects of  housing. The site should be particularly helpful for transfer, graduate and law  students.  


Strategic Planning
I will provide a  mid-September report on the start of school and update many of the items  outlined above. At that time I will also discuss the start of a new strategic  planning effort.  The time has come to  replace the current “15 Points” plan with a new document to project the mission,  values, and priorities of our institution and set specific goals for which we  all will be accountable. I intend to fashion a planning process that is  inclusive of the widest range of views and opinions as we move toward a clear,  coherent document that enjoys wide support among key constituencies. By mid-September I will have done a substantial amount of initial consultation  regarding the process best suited for American University.  I expect to hear a great deal on the topics and issues our new plan should  address. I ask that every member of our community begin thinking about this  important work and send your initial thoughts and ideas to me at As the strategic  planning process begins, we will establish a strategic planning Website to post  relevant documents and communications for easy access and review.


Enjoy what remains of the  summer. The work in the year ahead will be plentiful and challenging but with  more than ample rewards. We look forward to the symbolic start of the new  school year—Opening Convocation on Friday, August 24 (11:00  a.m., Friedheim Quadrangle) that features Scholar-Teacher of the Year  Pamela Nadell, and the first day of classes on Monday, August 27.  I invite you to the Celebrate AU festivities that afternoon (2:00 p.m., Friedheim Quadrangle; raindate:  Friday, August 31, 2:00 p.m., Friedheim Quadrangle). 

August 9, 2007 4:49 PM