Colonials Reunite at Alumni Weekend

Alumni visited the university this weekend for more than 60 events, including a concert, food festival and alumni awards.

DAAA Award Winners
From left: James Quinlan, Tara Jeanne O’Toole, Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Victoria Clarke, President Steven Knapp, Ariel Hollinshead, Junaid Shams and Steven Frenkil.
September 30, 2013

More than 2,100 alumni returned to the George Washington University to attend this year’s Alumni Weekend, which boasted events like a Cyndi Lauper concert, class reunions and the annual Taste of GW food festival on University Yard.

“Alumni Weekend 2013 is the most successful so far. We are so proud to see Alumni Weekend established as an important and integral part of the GW landscape,” said Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development Adrienne A. Rulnick.

The weekend kicked off on Thursday with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards dinner to honor the university’s most accomplished Colonials. The prestigious awards were established in 1937 and are presented annually to those who have obtained notable success in their professions. The winners this year were Victoria Clarke, B.A. ’82; Ariel Hollinshead, M.A. ’55, Ph.D. ’57; Tara Jeanne O’Toole, M.D. ’81; and Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, M.B.A. ’87. Junaid Shams, B.S. ’08, received the 2013 Recent Alumni Achievement Award.

Ms. Clarke is senior vice president for global corporate affairs for SAP, a leading multinational software company. She has served in three presidential administrations, most recently as assistant secretary of defense. Dr. Hollinshead is a professor emerita of the GW Department of Medicine who has been called the “mother of immunotherapy.” Dr. O’Toole is the former undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security. Ms. Schwab-Pomerantz is senior vice president at Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. and president of Charles Schwab Foundation. She also serves as director and chairman of the Schwab Charitable board. Mr. Shams is the co-founder of GSM Nation, where he oversees the company’s financial planning, business innovation and growth strategies.


During opening remarks, President Steven Knapp congratulated this year’s award recipients on winning an honor shared by actor Kerry Washington, B.A. ’98, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, M.B.A. ’71.


Each recipient was introduced to the stage individually. After being presented with their award, they spoke of their time at the university and how their education was integral to their success.


“When you go to GW, you’re a member of the Washington, D.C., community, you’re a member of the national community and you’re a member of the global community,” said Ms. Clarke. She was honored with a speech by GW Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles, B.A. ’81, her longtime friend and former classmate.


Friday marked the seventh annual Ramsey Student Investment Fund Conference, a forum that provides investing insights and highlights of the student-managed $1.9 million Ramsey Student Investment Fund. Lawrence Cunningham, a Henry St. George Tucker III research professor at GW Law School and director of GW’s Center for Law, Economics and Finance (C-LEAF), delivered a keynote address.


Alumni also flocked to traditionally popular events, like the sold-out Alumni Kickoff Party in the Charles E. Smith Center. The party was followed by the Alumni Weekend Concert, featuring a performance by recent Tony Award winner Cyndi Lauper.


Saturday’s fifth annual Taste of GW sold out quickly and gave attendees the chance to snack on treats from 14 local restaurants. Alumni were able to sample food from Luke’s Lobsters, Leopold Bros, Pork Barrel BBQ , and more.


Saturday afternoon continued with other well-attended events, like the Black Alumni Association IMPACT Awards, the LGBT Alumni Reception and the Affinity Reunion that honored 155 years of Greek life at GW. The Political Science Department also celebrated its 100th year with a reception Saturday night in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom.


The weekend also gave former GW student-athletes a chance to don the buff and blue again during several alumni games, regattas and meets. Alumni from all 23 varsity sports enjoyed each other's company and that of current coaches and administrators during a reception at the Charles E. Smith Center on Saturday, at which the 2014 GW Athletic Hall of Fame class was revealed.


On Sunday, politically minded alumni attended a brunch discussion on bipartisanship and enacting positive change in the American government. The event featured former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee Dan Glickman, J.D. ’69, and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.


Many alumni trekked from different cities to bond with their former classmates and make new connections to the GW community. Kyle Farmbry, B.A. ’92, M.P.A. ’94, Ph.D. ’99, the vice president for communications for the GW Alumni Association Board, flew in from New Jersey to participate in the weekend’s activities.


“One of the things I really enjoy is that there are lots of phenomenal opportunities get to know other alumni and see what’s happening on campus. Alumni Weekend always provides that chance to reconnect and get involved,” Dr. Farmbry said.