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Alumni Newsmakers

In Memoriam

Herbert J. Miller, BA ’48, JD ’49
Nov. 14, 2009
Rockville, Md.

Anne Johnson Scepansky, MPhil ’69, PhD ’74
Nov. 4, 2009

Stephen Lagakos, MPhil ’72, PhD ’72
Oct. 12, 2009
Wellesley, Mass.

Mande Sidibe, MBA ’74
Aug. 25, 2009

Toby Raphael, MA ’77
Nov. 4, 2009
Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Henrietta E. Hestick, MPhil ’80, PhD ’82
Oct. 29, 2009
Baltimore, Md.

Lara Sweat, BA ’91
Nov. 5, 2008
Oakland, Calif.

Gilbert Kombe, MPH ’95
Nov. 6, 2009
Washington, D.C.

Lucas Wooster, BS ’99
Nov. 1, 2009
Ithaca, N.Y.

Ian Dusenberry, BS ’06
Nov. 14, 2009
McLean, Va.

Faculty and Staff

Gene D. Cohen
professor, first director of GW’s Center on Aging, Health, and Humanities
Nov. 6, 2009
Kensington, Md.

Susan Hyatt
director of development, Gelman Library System
Dec. 7, 2009
Takoma Park, Md.

Ruth Helm Osborn, MA ’46, EdD ’63
professor, founder of GW’s Women’s Studies Department
Oct. 30, 2009
Alexandria, Va.

Stephen Pothier
senior research scientist, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Nov. 30, 2009
Washington, D.C.

George Stephens, BS ’67, MS ’69
professor of geography and geosciences
Nov. 2, 2009
Arlington, Va.

Estelle Gelman

GW Trustee Emerita and benefactor Estelle Gelman died Oct. 23, 2009, at age 83.

In 1980, Mrs. Gelman established an endowment in the name of her late husband, Melvin Gelman, BA ’40, a longstanding supporter of the university, for whom GW’s Gelman Library is named. A philanthropist, Mrs. Gelman served on the GW Board of Trustees for 11 years and on the boards of many other nonprofit organizations, including the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the American Cancer Society, where she served as the first female president.

Mrs. Gelman is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren. Several of her family members are graduates of GW, including a daughter, Elise Lefkowitz, BBA ’78; a son-in-law, Marc Lefkowitz, BBA ’77; and a granddaughter, Charlotte (Charlie) Lefkowitz, BA ’07.

Jeanette A. Michael

Jeanette A. Michael, JD ’75, a member of the GW Board of Trustees and a founder of GW’s Black Law Alumni Association, died Nov. 28, 2009. Ms. Michael was a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness and the advancement of African-American members of the legal community.

In addition to her service as the first president of the BLAA, Ms. Michael was an active member of GW’s Black Law Student Association.

In 2009, GW recognized Ms. Michael with the Spirit of Life Award at its Annual Cancer Gala. A breast-cancer fighter herself, Ms. Michael inspired others as a community leader and personal example of perseverance and hope. She also received an Outstanding Alumnus Award from the university in 1997.

During her career, Ms. Michael was a past president of the D.C. Chapter of the National Forum on Black Public Administrators, former chief of staff to the D.C. mayor, and a former executive director of the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Board.

In recognition of her commitment to the GW Law community, GW Law School established a scholarship in Ms. Michael’s name.

Abe Pollin

Abe Pollin, BBA ’45, owner of the Washington Wizards and chairman of the board, chief executive, and majority shareholder of Washington Sports and Entertainment, died Nov. 24, 2009. Mr. Pollin was elected as a member of the GW Board of Trustees in 1974 and served for 20 years. He was honored with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1974 and inducted into the School of Business Sports Executive Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was the longest-tenured owner in the National Basketball Association, having purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. Mr. Pollin also brought professional hockey (the Capitals) and women’s basketball (the Mystics) to Washington in 1974 and 1997 respectively. As majority owners of the Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership, the Pollins oversaw the operations of the Washington Wizards, Washington/Baltimore Ticketmaster, and in-house promoter Musicentre Productions as well as the management of the Verizon Center and the George Mason University Patriot Center.

Mr. Pollin was well known for his philanthropy. He served as the honorable chairman of the Salvation Army’s Leadership Committee for Centers of Hope and co-chair of the Community Capital Campaign for N Street Village in the District. He was also the co-sponsor of the I Have a Dream Foundation, and he personally guaranteed college educations for 55 students. The Pollins relaunched the Abe’s Table program to feed the underserved in the D.C. community and sponsored Gilbert Arenas’ Gilbert Scores for Schools program. In 2008, they donated $1 million to the Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

Mr. Pollin was honored many times for his leadership. In 2007, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty proclaimed Abe Pollin Day in the District of Columbia.

Lee Sigelman

Lee Sigelman, Columbian College distinguished professor of political science and interim director of the University Honors Program, died Dec. 21.

A former chair of the political science department, Dr. Sigelman was recognized with the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prizes for both Service and Faculty Scholarship and with the American Political Science Association’s highest award for service to the discipline. Deeply involved in the department and university, Dr. Sigelman served as chair of two different university professor searches and the political science department’s chair selection committee and as a member of the department’s appointment, promotion, and tenure committee, and American politics search committee.

Dr. Sigelman was the editor of the American Political Science Review and American Politics Quarterly, and he was the director of the political science program at the National Science Foundation. His teaching and research centered on public opinion, mass communication, and electoral behavior, including American national government, research methods, and comparative political analysis. Dr. Sigelman also co-founded a popular political science blog, The Monkey Cage, with GW faculty members. Dr. Sigelman published numerous books and articles, including his most recent book, Attack Politics.

Dr. Sigelman is survived by his wife, Carol, professor of psychology at GW. The Sigelman Fund for Political Science has been established in his memory. These funds will be utilized to assist junior faculty with their research, a passion of Dr. Sigelman’s.

Robert H. Smith

GW trustee emeritus Robert H. Smith died Dec. 29, 2009, at age 81. Mr. Smith was a visionary in real estate development and philanthropy who transformed universities, historical sites, museums, and countless other institutions around the world.

With brother-in-law Robert P. Kogod, Mr. Smith ran the Charles E. Smith Companies for more than
40 years, becoming Washington, D.C.’s largest commercial real estate company, known especially for developing the Crystal City complex in Arlington, Va. Mr. Smith exemplified philanthropic leadership at GW. His most recent gift, a $10 million challenge grant from the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, Charles E. Smith Family Foundation, and Robert and Arlene Kogod, continues to be instrumental in the renovation and transformation of the Charles E. Smith Center and is the largest donation in the university’s history. The Charles E. Smith Center, named for Mr. Smith’s father, was dedicated in 1976.

Mr. Smith and his wife also provided support to the University of Maryland, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Monticello, Montpelier, Gettysburg National Military Park, Mayo Clinic, Wilmer Eye Clinic at Johns Hopkins, the Newseum, New York Historical Society, Hebrew University, Victoria and Albert Museum, and others. Avid art collectors, Mr. and Mrs. Smith donated a number of significant paintings and have promised their world-renowned collection of Renaissance bronze sculptures to the National Gallery of Art.

Mr. Smith is the former president of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art and former chairman of the board of governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also served on GW’s Board of Trustees for 20 years. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Mr. Smith the National Humanities Medal.

Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Clarice, BA ’76, MFA ’79; two children, Michelle Smith of Washington, D.C., and David Bruce Smith, BA ’79, of Bethesda, Md.; a sister, Arlene R. Kogod of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.