Top stories from graduating class’s time at GW show range of visitors and experiences.
It was the summer of “Call Me Maybe,” the Curiousity landing on Mars and the London Olympics when the class of 2016 arrived at the George Washington University. On Sunday, they’ll cross the stage on the National Mall as graduates. As seniors prepare for the next phase of their lives, we’re taking a look back at some of George Washington Today’s top stories and memorable cultural moments from the past four years.
Freshman Year: 2012-2013
- Media antagonists Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly squared off in a head-to-head political debate at Lisner Auditorium.
- GW dealt with the wrath of Mother Nature as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast with wind speeds of almost 90 miles per hour. In its aftermath, many students mobilized to contribute to relief efforts.
- Beginning a partnership that would only grow stronger during the class of 2016’s time on campus, the university announced that Chef José Andrés would bring his “The World on a Plate” class to GW in the spring semester.
- Web searches for the definition of “malarkey” skyrocketed as Vice President Joe Biden used the word to genially dismiss Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan in a televised debate.
- On election night, many took to the streets for an impromptu party at the White House celebrating the reelection of President Obama. Two months later, as inaugural celebrations swept the city, students enjoyed the inaugural address and got glamorous for GW’s inaugural ball.
- First Lady Michelle Obama visited in March to discuss the importance of ending childhood obesity.
Sophomore Year: 2013-2014
- The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—who was also at GW in March 2013 to celebrate Constitution Day—visited Lisner Auditorium to reminisce about his 30 years on the highest bench in the country.
- Students from GW, Catholic University and American University teamed up to build a sustainable home for the Department of Energy’s prestigious Solar Decathlon.
- Beyoncé unexpectedly released her self-titled album at the end of the fall semester, ensuring that students returned from winter break with something to talk about.
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited campus twice in January, first to discuss her memoir “My Beloved World” and then to join the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly established Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics.
- José Andrés’ self-deprecating and powerful commencement speech, which featured video cameos by celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow, was one of the university’s most popular.
Junior Year: 2014-2015
- The year’s biggest story: President Obama’s visit to Lisner to appear on a special episode of comedy news powerhouse the Colbert Report. The president discussed immigration, the Affordable Care Act and the Keystone pipeline before an excited crowd of GW community members.
- Celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Bill Gates took the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” drenching themselves in cold water to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- José Andrés’ reign as GW’s favorite chef continued as he announced that he would bring his first fast-casual restaurant, Beefsteak, to the Science and Engineering Hall in 2015. Judging from the lines at lunchtime, enthusiasm has not ebbed.
- Many students had the chance to see a childhood hero in action when popular educator Bill Nye visited Lisner Auditorium to advocate for critical thought in America.
- Blake D. Morant began his tenure as dean of the GW Law School, while Linda Livingstone became dean of the GW School of Business.
- Several new institutions opened their doors: Faculty moved into the university’s Science and Engineering Hall in December, and more than 2,000 visitors attended opening celebrations for the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in March.
- If Justices Scalia and Sotomayor were not enough to satisfy, the class of 2016 had the chance to see a third Supreme Court legend their junior year: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a.k.a. “The Notorious RBG,” who spoke at Constitution Day. A few months later, she would return with longtime friend Antonin Scalia to discuss friendship across ideological lines.
Senior Year: 2015-2016
- New leaders abounded this year. Ambassador Reuben Brigety became dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs and longtime arts advocate and educator Sanjit Sethi was named inaugural director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.
- Pope Francis paid his historic visit to Washington, D.C., spending much of his time within a walking radius of the Foggy Bottom campus.
- Fascinating faculty research came to the forefront in three of the year’s most-read stories: a professor of anthropology’s work on 400-year-old skeletons at Machu Picchu, an instructional librarian’s high-flying analysis of Harry Potter, and a museum studies professor’s key role in preserving Star Wars’ C-3PO.
- In related news, Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted to box office triumph.
- Retired Daily Show host Jon Stewart anchored Colonials Weekend in October with two sold-out performances.
- Just as the class of 2016 was welcomed to Washington, D.C., with a hurricane, their final semester was marked by a record-breaking winter storm.
- In February, newsman Anderson Cooper discussed the challenges and rewards of his career as an openly gay journalist with a major national platform.
- Sen. Cory Booker will be the class’s highly anticipated commencement speaker.