You are here: American University Community Relations Newsletter January 2022 Neighborhood Newsletter

AU in the Neighborhood

January 2022

Message from Maria Barry, Director of Community Relations

Maria Barry

Dear Neighbors, Happy New Year!

I hope you and your families enjoyed the holidays. I wanted to update the community on the operating status of American University. As you know, we are closely monitoring the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and with increasing case counts in the DC region and around the country AU is taking the following steps for the start of the spring semester.


  • Classes will temporarily move online from January 10 to January 30. In-person instruction will resume on Monday, January 31.
  • Upon initial return to campus from the break—whether for students living in the residence halls, students residing off campus using the libraries or other facilities, or faculty/staff for work purposes— AU is requiring a negative test within 48 hours of being on campus.
  • Faculty will teach online, with possible exceptions for a small number of science labs and arts courses. Staff with hybrid work schedules will work fully remotely and those with full presence required schedules will generally return to the work arrangement that was in place for their position in summer 2021. This temporary change will be in place from January 3 through January 30.
  • Our mask requirement remains in effect for all campus buildings, and we strongly recommend wearing a mask in all public spaces or social situations.
  • COVID-19 boosters are still required for all AU members by February 10.
  • For the month of January, campus events will be online, and no campus visitors or guests will be allowed.

As always, you can find more Covid-19 resources on the AU website:

Stay well,Maria Barry signatureMaria Barry
Director of Community Relations
American University


AU Neighborhood Partnership Virtual Open House

AU Open House Flyer Head Image

Please join us at the AU Neighborhood Partnership Virtual Open House on February 17th at 6:00pm!

We invite all neighbors living near American University to join in the work of the AU Neighborhood Partnership. We encourage you to learn more about the Partnership and how you can be involved in the progress of AU and your community.

Now that the 2021 campus plan has been approved by the DC Zoning Commission last year, the Partnership will work collaboratively to ensure the implementation of the campus plan is done in a mutually beneficial manner for both the University and surrounding neighborhoods. 

Founded in 2018, the purpose of the Partnership is to provide a consensus-based forum for resolving issues affecting the communities adjacent to the American University. Interested members of the community can join one of the Partnership’s five standing working groups, which is comprised of community stakeholders and AU leadership.

Through its working groups, the Partnership actively engages with senior university administrators to discuss issues involving – Student Life & Safety; Facilities Planning; Transportation & Parking; Engagement & Communications; and Data & Metrics. Working Groups examine pertinent issues and make recommendations to the Partnership Steering Committee, which operates through a consensus-based process to advance the implementation of mutually agreeable principles and proposals.

The Partnership Steering Committee provides guidance and support to each of the Working Groups, and is comprised of each Working Group’s co-chairs, as well as representatives from ANC 3D, ANC 3E, and four neighborhood associations – Fort Gaines Citizens Association, Spring Valley Neighborhood Association, Ward 3 Vision, and Westover Place – that represent several hundred households neighboring American University and came together to facilitate the Partnership’s initial formation. As the University prepares to embark on implementing its recently approved 2021 Campus Plan, your participation is especially encouraged.

To register for the Virtual Open House, please sign up here:

To learn more about the AU Neighborhood Partnership, please visit our website.

We look forward to you joining us on February 17th!

OLLI Offers February Shorts and Spring Semester Classes

OLLI-group session

American University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is open for registration for its upcoming February Shorts and spring semester classes. Individuals 50 years and older can sign up for a wide variety of classes on topics encompassing the arts, sciences, politics, literature, philosophy, and more.

Part of the American University community for forty years, OLLI lectures and study groups meet for 90 minutes and are based on the concept of peer learning and teaching. Members come from varied backgrounds with a shared common interest in continuing their learning experiences and intellectual stimulation in an organization of like-minded people. They participate fully in study groups by either leading or simply attending them.  Study groups also are led by university schools, including the School of Public Affairs (SPA) and the School of International Service (SIS). There are no tests or grades, as members participate purely for the joy of learning. 

February Shorts are two-, three-, four-, or five-day classes and spring classes run for eight to ten weeks beginning in March. Classes are in-person, online, and in hybrid format. Shorts are $75 per session for up to three classes, while spring semester classes are $300 for up to four classes.

To learn more about OLLI classes, visit

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at American University is an association of, by, and for the people in the Washington, DC area who wish to continue to study and learn. OLLI at AU is dedicated to the proposition that learning is a lifelong process and that curiosity never retires.

Relics of a Bygone Era Brought Down During Winter Break

Asbury Smokestacks

The two 100-foot smokestacks behind Asbury Hall – a landmark on the AU campus skyline for more than 60 years and the last relics of a time when AU’s central heating plant burned oil – were taken down during winter break.

It was the final step in the university’s conversion to a low-temperature hot water heating system that uses natural gas and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 40 percent.

"As the first university in the District of Columbia to convert its campus from steam heating to hot water, the smokestack removal serves as visual reminder of how AU continues to lead by example through further reduction of its carbon footprint in support of President Burwell’s ‘We Are Still In’ pledge as well as local energy and sustainability initiatives," said Brontè Burleigh-Jones, chief financial officer, vice president and treasurer, Office of Finance and Treasurer.

AU became the first urban campus, first research university, and the largest higher education institution in the United States to achieve carbon neutrality in 2018. The university announced its third five-year sustainability action plan in April, following 2010 and 2014 plans. The plan’s ambitious 45 new goals, in the areas of engagement, environment, and administration, align with climate work being done by DC and the United Nations and dovetails with the District’s progressive Sustainable DC plan’s framework for new construction, energy, and water usage.

As for the smokestacks, contractors removed them brick-by-brick from the top down, deconstructing the east one first. To minimize traffic disruption and contain dust and debris, they pushed the debris into each smokestack’s chimney and took it away from an opening in its base. A portion of the brick and concrete will be recycled in compliance with DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs regulations, and the site will be restored with asphalt.

“The removal of the smokestacks is not only a visible and aesthetic improvement, it also symbolizes AU’s continued move forward with its green energy efficiency goals,” said Juan Allen, energy conservation and efficiency manager, Facilities Management.

New Sustainability Initiatives Engage Hundreds of AU Students

Eco Pledge program

As part of American University’s continued efforts to promote a culture of sustainability, this fall the Office of Sustainability launched the EcoRep and EcoPledge programs.   

About 40 students participated in the EcoRep Program and volunteered about two hours of their time weekly to promote sustainability and inspire personal behavior change among students, faculty, and staff.  Their efforts also included: 

  • promoting recycling and compost on campus and assisting with monitoring bins for contamination; 
  • distributing sustainability information through social media and other channels;  
  • assisting with sorting waste in the Terrace Dining Room and at large campus events such as Celebrate AU and Fall Festival; and 
  • staffing in-person outreach events to educate students about sustainability and promote the EcoPledge Program.  

Reflecting on her experience as an EcoRep Leader, Office of Sustainability intern, sophomore Cassie Rodrique said, "It has been so exciting helping run the EcoRep Program. It’s amazing to see progress being made on campus by watching students engage with sustainability issues at our events.” 

Coinciding with the EcoRep Program, the EcoPledge certification program was launched to encourage students to take action for sustainability on campus.  To become certified, students complete an online form and pledge to take at least ten sustainable actions on the AU campus and beyond during the year.  The actions help reduce waste and consume mindfully, conserve energy, save water, commute smarter, and build community.  At latest count, 250 students have become certified through the program.

“There is no ‘right way’ to take action on climate change. We need everyone to do something, whether that’s reducing their personal use of disposable plastics or getting involved with a student organization to advocate for change on the local or federal level,” said Tacy Lambiase, Sustainability Manager.  

“The EcoPledge Program provides students with ideas, prompts, and tools to help them make more sustainable choices on our campus and wherever else they live, work, and learn.”   

Additionally, EcoRep volunteers also helped to launch the Campus Cup initiative at AU.  The initiative is part of a nationwide project to make menstruation and menstrual products more sustainable and accessible on college campuses.  The Office of Sustainability and the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center (HPAC) partnered with AllMatters, a sustainably-focused menstrual cup company, to offer free menstrual cups to interested students.  The campaign and the efforts of the EcoRep volunteers and HPAC’s Peer Health Educators resulted in 452 students signing up to receive AllMatters menstrual cups.   

“Menstrual cups are reusable for two to ten years. So if all of the students who signed up make the switch to a cup, 238,656 disposable menstrual products could be avoided on campus over the next two years. This would help eliminate a significant amount of menstrual product waste from the landfill. It is really encouraging to see the impact that this campaign has on waste diversion at AU,” said Rodrique.  

“Our primary goal with these new outreach programs is to engage as many AU students as possible in learning about and engaging with sustainability on our campus,” Lambiase said. “We will only make progress on our campus sustainability goals if our entire campus community takes ownership of them. We want to empower students with the resources and opportunities to take action in ways that make sense for them, their lifestyles, and their interests.”

Sine Institute

Katzen: Winter-Spring Exhibitions open on January 29

On view January 29-May 22, 2022:
Paper Light Works by Claudia Smigrod Curated by Wendy Grossman Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art
Fields and Formations Organized by The Delaware Contemporary’s inaugural Curator-in-Residence Kristen Hileman
Two Places on Earth Works by Chan ChaoPresented by the AU Museum Project Space
On view January 29-April 8, 2022:
In Place of a Missing Place Curated by Noam Segal
For more information about the Winter-Spring Exhibitions please visit

Sine Institute Fellow 2022 Seminar Series

Crafting National Security for Today and Tomorrow – with Richard Fontaine (Sine Institute Fellow 2022) 
What chief forces are driving today's world, and how should we respond to them? This seminar series will bring together expert guest speakers to discuss issues at the forefront of policymaker minds. From China and technology to Afghanistan and the U.S. government, the conversations will highlight an array of national security challenges – and debate how Washington and others should deal with them.
Dates & Times:
  • January 18 at 4 p.m. (ET)
  • January 25 at 4 p.m. (ET)
  • February 1 at 4 p.m. (ET)
  • February 8 at 4 p.m. (ET)
  • February 15 at 4 p.m. (ET)
The campus location for each these programs will be available closer to the event date. Additional information available at
Advance registration required at
A Woman in the Arena – with Former U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (Sine Institute Fellow 2022)
What challenges do women still face in the workplace and the world? In this seminar series, former Representative Comstock will discuss current and historical challenges for women in leadership and government service. Topics will include what it’s like to run for office, issues involving sexual discrimination or harassment, and women’s empowerment. We will also delve into the meaning of having role models, mentors, and best practices while making your path.
Dates & Times:
  • January 24 at 1 p.m. (ET)
  • February 7 at 1 p.m. (ET)
  • February 28 at 1 p.m. (ET)
  • March 14 at 1 p.m. (ET)
  • April 4 at 1 p.m. (ET)
The campus location for each these programs will be available closer to the event date.Additional information available at
Advance registration required at
How do you Build a Movement to End Gun Violence and Enact Social Change? – with Shannon Watts (Sine Institute Fellow 2022)
Join Shannon Watts as she illuminates us on how she founded Moms Demand Action, one of the nation’s largest grassroots organizations, and shows others how they can build or bolster social movements to enact change in their communities. Through her series, Shannon will bring together some of the most vital voices of the movement and share her unique journey to make her voice heard on one of the country’s most critical issues.
Dates & Times:
  • January 24 at 4p.m. (ET)
  • February 14 at 4p.m. (ET)
  • March 14 at 4p.m. (ET)
  • April 4 at 4p.m. (ET)
  • April 18 at 4p.m. (ET)
The campus location for each these programs will be available closer to the event date.Additional information available at
Advance registration required at