You are here: American University President Announcements January 17, 2017 Memo

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Memorandum January 17, 2017

AU Community
Neil Kerwin, President, President
Transition: Retirement of Gail Short Hanson, Vice President of Campus Life

With great appreciation and considerable regret, I must inform the AU community that our colleague and friend Gail Short Hanson, vice president of campus life, will retire on March 31, 2017, after 20 years of stellar service to the American University community.

With professionalism and total commitment to AU's students and indeed the entire university for two decades, her positive impact on the campus experiences of a generation of students is difficult to overestimate. She has improved campus life immeasurably for thousands who are now dedicated AU alumni. She will be missed.

Gail came to AU in 1997 as vice president of student services, which became the Office of Campus Life in AY 2001-2002. The goal, rooted in the strategic plan, was to organize campus services to enhance campus life for students, staff, and faculty, and provide more efficient services for students in particular.

After developing a new mission statement, "to integrate students into a diverse university community; promote their intellectual, social, and spiritual development; and in collaboration with faculty, prepare students for lifelong learning and global citizenship," Gail helped it evolve throughout her entire tenure. The students of American University could not have had a more expert, wise, and dedicated advocate for their growth and well-being.

She has left her positive mark in so many ways it is challenging to list them all, as she oversaw so many critical areas-from academic support to mental health services; disability support to community engagement; diversity and inclusion; orientation, housing and dining, student conduct, university center & student activities, student health and wellness, the campus chaplains, and international student and scholar services. She built a strong, dedicated staff in OCL and provided a robust, varied program for their professional development.

Gail has helped the Center for Community Engagement and Service consistently earn AU plaudits on the honor roll of top service-oriented colleges and universities; she has collaborated with partners in expanding and enhancing AU's student housing, the development of a residential curriculum and the professionalization of the resident staff; and she spearheaded the modernization of the Student Conduct Code and the creation of the Veteran's Liaison Network.

Her cross-campus work included chairing the Workplace Conduct Advisory Committee which led to AU's memberships in the Workers' Rights Consortium and Fair Labor Association; creating and chairing of the Community Liaison Committee as mandated by the city zoning authorities; representing AU for eight years on the Patriot League Policy Committee; and providing oversight for our Title IX activities. With regard to Title IX she worked diligently to bring our systems into line with evolving Department of Education policies and guidance.

Over the years, the Office of Campus Life has earned one silver and three gold NASPA Excellence Awards for exemplary programs and initiatives.

To say the least, Gail will be sorely missed. In a few weeks, plans will be communicated for interim leadership of the Office of Campus Life and an event where we can all express our appreciation to Gail for her time as a colleague and friend, and the many great contributions to our university.