Alumni Members credit GW for success and offer tributes to President Knapp at annual Capitol Hill event.
By Ruth Steinhardt
Six members of Congress with connections to the George Washington University spoke at an annual Capitol Hill networking reception Tuesday, with several of the elected officials offering tributes to President Steven Knapp for his service to GW.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), B.A. ’77, led a toast to Dr. Knapp, who will end his tenure at the university at the end of July, by praising Dr. Knapp’s guidance of GW into “one of the top research, quality of life, forward-leaning schools.”
A first-generation college graduate who “didn’t have the resources” to attend college without support, Mr. Warner also thanked Dr. Knapp for increasing financial aid to students.
About 120 GW alumni, many of them lobbyists, federal employees and congressional staffers, gathered at the Russell Senate Office Building at the event co-sponsored by the George Washington Alumni Association (GWAA) and GW Government Relations. Besides Mr. Warner, attendees included Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), M.A. ’92; Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), B.S. ’66; Tim Kaine (D-Va.), as well as Reps. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), M.D. ’79, and Darren Soto (D-Fla.), J.D. ’04.
Ms. Duckworth said she was “so proud to be a GW alum” and thanked Dr. Knapp for enhancing the university’s commitment to the Yellow Ribbon project.
“I hope those veterans have changed GW for the better a little bit and have added to the diversity of experience,” she said.
Mr. Soto said he spent Sunday at Miami-Dade Airport helping travelers affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. He thanked Dr. Knapp for his commitment to students likely to be affected by it and similar policies, including beneficiaries of the DREAM Act.
“I want to thank Dr. Knapp for standing up for DREAMers and international students in an hour of great need,” Mr. Soto said.
Dr. Knapp expressed pride in GW’s record of environmentally friendly development during his tenure and named the building of Science and Engineering Hall and the addition of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design as high points. He also thanked alumni for helping GW’s Making History Campaign cross the $960 million mark this year.
“Public policy is one of the ways in which we really have an impact on our nation and on the world,” Dr. Knapp said. “But our main contribution is you, our alumni.”
The event has particular resonance at the present political moment, said Jeremy Gosbee, president of the GWAA.
“We’re at a time where we [GW alumni] have both the opportunity and the responsibility to help foster dialogue, find common ground and enable future leaders,” Mr. Gosbee, B.A. ’98, M.B.A. ’02, said in an interview with GW Today.
Mr. Kaine, the 2016 vice presidential Democratic nominee, opened the evening’s remarks. He is the father of Nat Kaine, B.A. ’12, and cited close aide Joe Montano, B.A. ’00, who died in 2016, as an inspiration.
“I’m not a GW alum, but I know the fruit of GW from my great staffer and from my son,” Mr. Kaine said.
Others spoke from more direct experience.
“In many ways I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for George Washington,” Mr. Warner said.
Mr. Enzi said that Congress enabled international police to track terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks by “following the money”—work he tied in part to his accounting education at GW.
“Things I learned at GW [also included] how to find and eliminate government waste,” Mr. Enzi said.
Mr. Soto told GW Today the university would have an important role to play under the Trump administration. “We need to have more of that GW international culture influence our nation’s capital,” he said.