You are here: American University President Announcements April 26, 2023

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

Spring and the pace of this time of year often remind me of rowing in bumps races. While I will not bore you with details about quick starts and settling in, I will mention an important idea that I have shared before—firm finishes. This refers to the end of a stroke and how it makes the boat send—go further faster. Here is to firm finishes as we wrap up this spring semester! It is a great time of year. We will be celebrating more than 3,400 students as they receive their degrees and commence on their next steps. We just commemorated our inspiring faculty contributions, and we will be celebrating our staff awards and staff appreciation week soon!

Thank you to our whole community for your changemaking work creating impactful research, learning through experiences and engagement, and building community. I’ve been thinking about all we have accomplished and want to celebrate a major milestone, share an important “thank you” that will hopefully help our community enjoy a break this summer (think holiday fireworks!), and note a few recent highlights (there are too many to count!).

Change Can’t Wait Reaches $400 Million
Almost six years ago, we launched the quiet phase of the transformative Change Can’t Wait fundraising campaign, with the public launch following in May 2021. Thanks to the hard work of our team and the support of our community, our alumni, and many others, we have now raised more than $400 million towards our $500 million goal. We’re in the home stretch of this critical work that is building a bright future for AU, and we are not slowing down. I want to highlight a recent campaign gift that illustrates why people are investing in American University and our people.

The Shahal M. Khan Cyber and Economic Security Institute is launching with a $5 million gift from Shahal M. Khan, SIS/BA ’95, and a partnership with Cyber Range Solutions (CRS), a global leader in cyber security training solutions. Spearheaded by Diana Burley, AU’s vice provost for research and innovation and a leading cybersecurity expert, the Khan Institute will provide unique educational opportunities for AU students and professional development opportunities to help practitioners better understand evolving cybersecurity threats. Innovative partnerships like this are a core element of the future of research and knowledge development and bring together the unique expertise here at AU with practitioners, companies, and visionaries to address today’s great challenges.

In Appreciation for All That You Do, AU Will Close Monday, July 3
In recognition of your hard work over the past year that made our achievements possible, we will close on Monday, July 3, so community members can enjoy a long break for the Fourth of July holiday. I hope you can take time to recharge, participate in your favorite activities, and spend time with family and friends. For our team members who work that day in support of core campus functions, thank you. Your manager will work with you to identify alternatives to ensure you have the opportunity to take corresponding time off.

A Community in Action
As we head towards the end of the semester, here are just a few more things that I am excited about. We are fortunate to have many opportunities to come together as a community and celebrate what it means to be a part of American University.

  • Check out our spring 2023 commencement speakersAlice Albright, chief executive officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation; Adena T. Friedman, chair and chief executive officer, Nasdaq, Inc.; Larry Hogan, 62nd governor of the State of Maryland; Ketanji Brown Jackson, associate justice, Supreme Court of the United States; Julie Kent, artistic director, the Washington Ballet; and Ted Leonsis, founder, chair, principal partner, and chief executive officer, Monumental Sports and Entertainment. These outstanding speakers continue the long tradition of leaders coming to AU to celebrate our graduates and charge them with continuing their lives of service and purpose.
  • Speaking of our graduates, I’m looking forward to gathering with the class of 2023 at our upcoming Graduating Student Barbeques. We will host these fun events at the AU House, which was generously gifted to the university by Mary Weinmann, an admired Washington, DC, philanthropist and civic leader. American University is now the caretaker of the property, which provides a gathering place for our community of changemakers and serves as the residence of the AU president and their family.
  • We recently celebrated the 30th annual Campus Beautification Day and campus looks amazing! More than 300 student, staff, and faculty volunteers helped plant 12 trees and 5,000 perennials and shrubs and spread 300 cubic pounds (that’s nearly 20,000 pounds) of mulch. This month, we are also marking the 20th anniversary of the AU Arboretum and Gardens—the result of years of dedication, planning, and hard work by our community, including our neighbors and friends.
  • Continuing our commitment to our environment, April marks the fifth anniversary of American University becoming the first university in the United States to achieve carbon neutrality. We realized a net-zero carbon footprint two years ahead of schedule by reducing and offsetting emissions and using renewable energy. Carbon neutrality was just the beginning—AU is committed to acting on our values and leading sustainability efforts into the future, including our commitment to achieving zero-waste by 2030 and eliminating single-use plastics on campus.
  • Congratulations to our 2023 University Faculty Award recipients, who advance our commitment to teaching, scholarship, and service; help our students grow and thrive every day; and make AU a special place for learning. And I’m looking forward to Staff Appreciation Week this June; be on the lookout for the schedule of events (including the food trucks!) that will celebrate our outstanding staff.

As we gear up for this final push through finals and commencement, I hope you take a moment to reflect on all you have accomplished and all we have done together as a community. Enjoy the spring warmth walking around our beautiful campus (thanks again to the great facilities team and everyone who participated in Campus Beautification Day!) and watch this community thrive. Those special moments propel me forward every day. Thank you for being changemakers and thank you for a great spring 2023 semester.