In Memoriam: Dwight S. Cropp

The former GW professor and administrator was also a long-time public servant in the District of Columbia.

Dwight Cropp
Dwight S.Cropp. (Photo: McGuire Funeral Service Inc.)
January 04, 2022

The George Washington community is remembering the life of Dwight S. Cropp, a former GW professor of public administration and special adviser to GW President Emeritus Stephen J. Trachtenberg. Prior to joining the university, Cropp was a dedicated public servant in the District of Columbia.

Shortly after Trachtenberg came to GW, he hired Cropp as an adviser in an effort to ease racial tensions on campus and build bridges with the larger D.C. community. The former president was saddened by the news of his death.

“This is a real loss of a real friend,” he said. “He was a terrific guy. He had this wonderful smile and a great sense of humor.”

Cropp’s wife, Linda, was the first woman elected to serve as chair of the D.C. Council. She also ran unsuccessfully for mayor of the District of Columbia.

Linda Cropp’s involvement in local politics, Trachtenberg said, “limited what he could do for me as a consultant. He was always saying ‘I can’t advise you about this.’

“So, eventually, I said, ‘You need to go over and teach politics and public policy.’ This was before there was a Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.”

Students consistently rated Cropp highly as a teacher. “He was the kind of person who you’d want teaching your child,” Trachtenberg said.

The GW Hatchet reported in 2006 that Cropp and his students were helpful in Linda Cropp’s mayoral campaign.

“Every time we’re out campaigning,” said Ron Eckstein, Mrs. Cropp’s campaign manager, “we run into GW students. They always yell, ‘Hey, your husband’s my professor.'”

Dwight Cropp earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in Russian history at Howard University, followed by another master’s degree in public administration at American University. He taught at Eastern Senior High School in D.C., where he met the woman who became his wife, and worked in D.C. government before earning a doctorate in public policy and administration at GW.

He became a full-time professor at GW in 1996, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

Cropp occasionally invited his friend, Julius Hobson Jr., M.A. ’80, to speak to his classes. The two friends met in 1973 when Cropp was the executive secretary of the D.C. Board of Education and Hobson was a newly elected member from Ward 8. Thus began a long personal as well as professional association, with the two interacting in various professional capacities over the years as well as meeting socially on and off the tennis court.

“He invited me to lecture his class each semester,” said Hobson, “which got me wondering why I didn’t do that myself. And I started teaching at GSPM in 1994.”

As an adjunct faculty member, Hobson taught a class on public administration.

“Once I started teaching,” Hobson said, “I got some of his students in my classes. They always expressed a strong appreciation for his teaching style and for what they learned in his class. His students really liked him.”

Cropp was probably not a stiff grader, Hobson said, but he was rigorous in assigning a lot of work and covering a broad array of issues in his class.

“He always cared about the people he worked with and the people who worked under him,” Hobson added. “He always looked out for people.”

A recipient of GSPM’s alumni achievement award in 2021, Hobson now works as a senior policy advisor at Polsinelli, one of the nation’s largest law firms. He expressed the highest praise for Cropp’s work in government.

“He was the consummate public servant, dedicated to making government work,” Hobson said. “He saw his role in government as serving the public.”

Dwight Cropp died in late November. At a memorial service held in December at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) eulogized Cropp as “a true son and champion of our city.” She praised his exceptional talent, humility and accomplishment and offered condolences to his family.

“Our city is grateful to have been served by Washingtonians like Dwight,” Bowser said.

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