Annual event welcoming GW graduates back to campus set for Sept. 24-27.
By James Irwin
Singer and songwriter Janelle Monae will perform live, and six graduates will be honored for career achievement when the George Washington University hosts its annual Alumni Weekend celebration in September.
Thousands of alumni are expected to return to campus for the four-day reunion, scheduled for Sept. 24-27. Alumni Weekend, a signature program hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations and George Washington Alumni Association, features more than 60 events, ranging from class reunions and academic gatherings to networking receptions and tours of campus.
“It is the biggest opportunity each year for alumni to come together and connect with each other and also to connect back with GW,” said GWAA President Jeremy Gosbee, B.A. ’98, M.A. ’02.
Honoring alumni achievement
Alumni Weekend begins Sept. 24, with the 79th annual Alumni Achievement Awards, where six university graduates will be honored for notable accomplishments in their professional and personal lives. The awards are the highest form of recognition given annually by the university and GWAA to a graduate.
“Every year we have an incredible class of alumni who have achieved great heights in their careers,” Mr. Gosbee said. “I think it speaks to the fact that a GW education can be a great platform for nearly any field.”
Five alumni will receive their awards in September. They will join Dae-Whan Chang, M.A. ’76, chair and publisher of the South Korean-based Maekyung Media Group, who was recognized in a June ceremony while traveling in the United States:
- Richard D. Heideman, J.D. ’72, senior counsel at Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC;
- Christyl C. Johnson, Ph.D. ’12, NASA Goddard’s deputy director for technology and research;
- Jay S. Kaplan, B.S. ’08, M.S. '09, founder of the venture-backed cyber security startup, Synack;
- Elad I. Levy, M.D. ’97, professor and chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo;
- Gregory H. Williams, J.D. ’71, MPHIL ‘77, Ph.D. ’82, former president of both the City College of New York and the University of Cincinnati.
A multi-day celebration
Ms. Monae, a six-time Grammy Award nominee, has released studio albums “The ArchAndroid” and “The Electric Lady” in recent years and has collaborated on projects with Erykah Badu and Bruno Mars. She appeared as a guest vocalist on the 2011 song “We Are Young” by Fun, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her Alumni Weekend concert will be Sept. 26 at the Charles E. Smith Center after the class reunion celebrations.
Classes in years ending in 0s and 5s are celebrating reunions this year, and the class of 2014 is celebrating a special one-year reunion as well. Nearly 17,000 celebrating alumni are challenged to make a gift to GW in honor of their reunion. As part of this year’s reunion challenge, an anonymous reunion donor will give $25,000 to GW in honor of the reunion class with the highest donor participation. The winning class will be announced during Alumni Weekend. There also will be a celebration of valor event for current service members, veterans and/or military family members.
Alumni Weekend, long part of Colonials Weekend, was established as a standalone program in 2007 with about 750 graduates attending. Attendance in subsequent years has more than tripled. The weekend features several signature events, including Friday afternoon receptions hosted by deans of GW’s schools and colleges followed by a kickoff party in University Yard, a Sunday morning political brunch, Saturday afternoon affinity receptions and Saturday’s “Taste of GW” event, where restaurants and catering businesses owned by GW alumni will provide food and drink samples.
“Taste of GW” is an alumni favorite, said GWAA Vice President for Programs Fiona Conroy, B.A. ’04, M.P.S. ’06.
“It seems to sell out every year,” said Ms. Conroy, an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Political Management. “My personal favorite is the political brunch on Sunday. In many ways we’re known for our political involvement. That’s a tremendous event.”
For details regarding Alumni Weekend, including information on class reunions, visit the GW alumni website.