Thousands of family and friends descended upon George Washington’s Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses over the weekend to celebrate Colonials Weekend, the university’s premiere family event.
This year is an especially exciting one for the university, as it celebrates 100 years in Foggy Bottom.
Colonials Weekend—hosted by Parent Services in the Division of Student Affairs— kicked off with visits to the GW Making History Mobile Studio; “Centennial Central,” a historical walking tour of Foggy Bottom; and free dance lessons with GW Ballroom, a student-run ballroom dance team.
On Saturday morning, university and student leaders, including President Steven Knapp, Executive Director of Parent Services Rodney L. Johnson, Alumni Association President James Core and Student Association President Ashwin Narla, spoke to parents and students about all that George Washington has to offer at the Colonials Weekend Welcome in the newly renovated Lisner Auditorium.
In his remarks, Dr. Knapp recalled some of the major events that have happened on campus in the last few months, including a groundbreaking for a new university museum, a sold-out mock debate with Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly and the construction of the university’s new state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Hall and home for the School of Public Health and Health Services.
He also noted the major research accomplishments of GW’s faculty, including a record five-year $134 million grant for a clinical diabetes trial and the election of two School of Public Health and Health Services faculty members to the Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
Dr. Knapp thanked the parents in the audience for entrusting GW with their sons and daughters and encouraged the students to stay connected with the university.
“We are really going to make a tremendous difference together in their lives, and I hope they will always go on to consider themselves part of our worldwide and lifelong community,” he said.
Dick Golden, special assistant for broadcast operations and university events, also moderated a discussion with Provost Steven Lerman about the university’s strategic plan. Dr. Lerman recently released the first full draft of the plan, which will lead the university into the next decade.
That afternoon, families and local residents carved pumpkins and sampled fall desserts at the Mount Vernon Campus’ annual Octoberfest, the popular outdoor festival sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs.
Also Saturday afternoon Gen. Colin Powell, M.B.A ’71, held a book signing in the Marvin Center’s Great Hall for his new book, “It Worked for Me,” which reveals the principles that shaped his life and career. His book is available for purchase in the GW Bookstore.
A performance by Grammy Award-winning band Train in the Charles E. Smith Center rounded out the day. GW Program Board President Lauren Shenfeld introduced the band.
Sunday’s events began with live music at the annual Jazz Brunch in GW’s Marvin Center and included a GW men’s soccer game and the 10th annual Foggy Bottom/West End Neighborhood Block Party on the 2200 block of Eye Street. Approximately 3,800 people attended the block party, a community tradition which featured a variety of local food and craft vendors and musical and dance performances, and included remarks by Dr. Knapp and D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans. Dr. Knapp also helped cut a cake to mark the university’s centennial.
"With all the local community associations in attendance, volunteers that included staff, students and community members and a new exciting location, this year's block party was easily the best yet,” said Director of Community Relations Britany Waddell. “GW’s centennial celebration 'went out with a bang,' and more importantly with a community focus.”
Other weekend highlights included the Deans’ Breakfasts, Office of Parent Services Silent Auction, “Classes From GW’s Best” and a Science and Engineering Hall site tour.
Paul and Jane Swanson flew in from Franklin, Mass., to visit their daughter, freshman Cindy Swanson. Their schedule for the weekend included Oktoberfest, the Department of Theatre and Dance’s student performance of Almost, Maine, and a visit with their son, James Swanson, B.S.’10, M.S.’11, who now lives in Arlington.
Mr. Swanson said he and his wife always look forward to visiting their children at George Washington.
“We’ve enjoyed the parents stuff,” he said. “[GW] does really good job of making it entertaining.”
“We like GW,” he added. “It’s neat to be right here in the city.”
Calling Colonials Weekend “an outstanding weekend,” Mr. Johnson said the Train concert was one of the “most exciting and vibrant” shows he has seen in his 27 years at the university. He also noted the large number of parents of GW juniors and seniors who have continued to return to Colonials Weekend, saying that the university works hard to make sure everyone feels welcome.
“This was just an outstanding weekend,” said Mr. Johnson. “We get such positive feedback from parents and families that they enjoy having the opportunities to do all the different events over the weekend.”
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of preparation, but at the end of the day it’s a wonderful opportunity for the university to welcome parents and families back to the university,” he added.
Mr. Johnson said Parent Services is already hard at work planning for Colonials Weekend 2013, which will be held Oct. 18-20.