Celebratory launch event at Mount Vernon honors George Washington.
By James Irwin
The most ambitious campaign in the 193-year history of the George Washington University—a $1 billion philanthropic effort that will bring GW into its third century and support its “Vision 2021” strategic plan—kicked off publicly Friday with a celebratory launch event at the university namesake’s Mount Vernon home.
Nearly 600 people, including students, faculty, trustees, alumni, friends and members of the university administration, gathered at George Washington’s estate to begin the public phase of “Making History: The Campaign for GW” and to pay tribute to the founding father who envisioned a university in the nation’s capital that would serve as America’s intellectual hub.
“What George Washington would recognize today is our culture of service and our continuing mission to educate citizen leaders for the world,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “In those respects we have remained faithful to our founding vision for nearly 200 years. Tonight we’re announcing an ambitious goal that will enable us to implement the strategic plan that was unanimously adopted last year by the Board of Trustees and provides the blueprint for achieving the full greatness that was always in this university’s future.”
Friday’s event, underwritten by anonymous gifts to celebrate the beginning of GW's historic undertaking, included a special challenge coin ceremony and remarks from Dr. Knapp, Board of Trustees Chair Nelson A. Carbonell Jr., B.S. ’85, and B.J. Penn, M.S. ’80, inaugural chair of the campaign.
"Making History," which began with a quiet phase in July 2011, has raised more than $525 million to date. The campaign is focused on three core areas: breaking new ground, enhancing academics and supporting students. GW has set goals to raise $500 million for academic programs, $400 million for student support—half of which will go to Power & Promise Scholarships—and $100 million for capital projects for new and existing facilities.
“If you look at the mission of the George Washington University, ultimately it’s about human well-being—the students, the faculty and staff, everyone is about helping others and helping them advance,” said Mr. Penn, former assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and environment and a former GW trustee. “Look at the number of students we have going overseas to work in other countries with organizations like the Peace Corps, the number of our students who give back to the community and our commitment to veterans. All of this is making a difference in the world.”