Award celebrates courage, character and leadership.
George Washington President Steven Knapp presented the President’s Medal to Norma Lee and Morton Funger, A.A. ’52, B.A. ’53, in a ceremony May 2 held in the hall named for the Fungers on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus.
Mr. and Mrs. Funger are native Washingtonians, dedicated philanthropists and longtime supporters of the university. The George Washington University President’s Medal is bestowed by the president of the university to recognize individuals who have exhibited courage, character and leadership in their chosen fields and who exemplify the ability of all human beings to improve the lives of others.
“We’ve all come together to honor two remarkable friends of the university,” Dr. Knapp said. “Tonight, Norma Lee and Morty Funger join an illustrious line of recipients that include musicians Dave Brubeck and Judy Collins, distinguished journalist Walter Cronkite, playwright and statesman Vaclav Havel and Nobel laureates Mikhail Gorbachev and Shimon Peres, to mention just a few.”
Mr. Funger is a real estate developer who is currently principal of Condur Corporation and chairman of the board and cofounder of Community Realty Company. He was a member of GW’s Board of Trustees from 1987 through 2005, when he was named an emeritus trustee. Mrs. Funger is a licensed real estate agent in Maryland and Washington. She graduated from Syracuse University and Wilson Teachers College. The Fungers have four children, one of whom, Scott Funger, was a 1983 graduate of the GW School of Law. Scott died in 2012 and the Fungers endowed the W. Scott Funger Memorial Scholarship in his memory.
Mr. and Mrs. Funger serve on the boards of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, American Art Museum and National Gallery of Art, as well as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—a two-year term appointed by President Barack Obama. Mrs. Funger is also a member of the board of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and a longtime supporter and volunteer at Children’s National Medical Center. The Fungers also regularly lend pieces from their personal art collection to Washington-area museums and galleries.
Dr. Knapp read aloud from a letter written by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., citing the “energy and focus” the Fungers bring to their endeavors, creating “real and lasting change.”
The ceremony also included remarks by several friends of the couple, including Frederick Lawrence, president of Brandeis University and dean of the GW Law School from 2005 to 2010, and Susan Phillips, dean and faculty member of the GW School of Business from 1998 to 2010. Dr. Phillips spoke about the Fungers’ ongoing support for GW, which included the renovation of the Norma Lee and Morton I. Funger Hall, named in 1986.
After awarding the medals to the Fungers, Dr. Knapp read from the official award citation, which called their devotion to the arts and humanities “boundless.”
“Your abiding love of more than 60 years is not held selfishly,” Dr. Knapp read. “It spills over endlessly to your family and friends, worthy institutions and causes and grateful citizens.”
Mrs. Funger thanked Dr. Knapp as well as the family’s friends, whom she called “the backbone of our lives.”
“We are extremely humbled by this honor,” she said. “Thank you so much.”