Two students, faculty member and staff member receive the George Washington Award for their commitment to the university.
May 11, 2016
Four members of the George Washington University community received George Washington Awards for their outstanding contributions to GW and will be recognized during the 2016 Commencement ceremony.
This year’s GW Award winners are Professor of Computer Science Rahul Simha, University Registrar Elizabeth Amundson, School of Media and Public Affairs senior Chris Evans and Graduate School of Education and Human Development student Tim Rabolt.
They were each nominated by other GW community members for their commitment to improving the university.
Dr. Simha, who has been teaching at GW since 2005, was nominated for his transformational teaching strategies. Fellow faculty members noticed his ability to energize others and come up with grassroots solutions to problems and innovative ways to present new information to students.
According to one of Dr. Simha's nomination letters, “Rahul is known as one of the ‘usual suspects’ in SEAS, because if there is a good idea for change coming up from the faculty, he is surely involved."
In the Office of the Registrar, staff members noticed how Ms. Amundson had instituted major business changes and introduced new processes to better support the needs of students.
The ideas she has introduced include implementing transcript express to get students and alumni documents 24/7, introducing faculty feedback in GWeb so individual students could evaluate instructors online and bringing DegreeMap functionality to complete degree audits and “what-if” strategic plans to allow students to see how their academic history compares to the degree requirements of another degree, major, minor or concentration.
Her colleagues called her an “exemplary leader” who goes to extraordinary lengths to resolve issues.
“When I look at the list of past recipients of the GW Award, I find that it is filled with the names of my mentors and those to whom I've turned for advice and inspiration for so many years. It is an honor to join such an elite group,” Ms. Amundson said.
Senior Chris Evans stood out for his multiyear project GW Listens, the university's inaugural peer support program. He started legwork for GW Listens his junior year by studying other university peer groups and working with student groups and partners. By his senior year, he had spread the word about GW Listens so effectively that nearly 100 students from across the university applied for the 20 peer support spots.
“Chris read every application and conducted face-to-face interviews with 50 of them,” Mr. Evans’ nomination letter read. “He then built a dynamic team that will become the very first peer support listeners in GW's history.”
Mr. Evans also organized an Alternative Spring Break trip to Atlanta to help refugee populations and completed a White House internship his junior year.
As both an undergraduate and graduate student, Mr. Rabolt has supported community members in recovery. He founded Students for Recovery as a senior, and continued to strengthen the group with advocacy, dedication and personal storytelling while he attended graduate school.
Today, Students for Recovery hosts university-wide events, such as "Raise High for Recovery Day.” They also conduct meetings at the "Serenity Shack" a safe student space. But the most important thing, according to Mr. Rabolt’s nomination letter, is that the group has raised awareness so that GW students know that they are not alone in their struggles—and it’s all thanks to the efforts Mr. Rabolt spearheaded.
“For me, it really feels more like a group award than an individual award because I know it's recognizing the work of GW Students for Recovery. It feels very liberating to see support for students in recovery from mental illness and addiction reach the Commencement stage,” Mr. Rabolt said.