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Development and Alumni Relations

Donald and Elyse Lehman — $2 Million Bequest Caps a History of Giving and Service

Elyse B. Lehman, MA ’67, PhD ’70, and Donald R. Lehman, PhD ’70

For Donald R. Lehman, PhD ’70, and his wife, Elyse Brauch Lehman, MA ’67, PhD ’70, the reason for giving is simple: GW is family.

Last June, the Lehmans generously expressed their affinity for and appreciation to the University through a $2 million bequest commitment, crowning a long history of philanthropy to GW. Their donation will establish the Elyse B. and Donald R. Lehman Endowed Professorship in Theoretical Physics to attract leading scholars and teachers and advance the study of theoretical physics.

“We want science, especially physics, to be an integral part of the future of GW so that others may have the type of experience we had,” says Don Lehman, GW’s executive vice president for academic affairs and the George Gamow Professor of Theoretical Physics.

“One of our goals is to provide infrastructure support that will enable talented faculty to continue their scholarly activities,” adds Elyse Lehman, professor emerita of psychology at George Mason University. “Strong science departments are essential if a university is to achieve and maintain greatness.”

As graduate students, the Lehmans began what would prove to be a mutually rewarding relationship with the University. Don Lehman remembers his experience as a GW graduate student as an extremely positive one. “I shall always look at that time in my life as a period that set me on my way to a wonderful career doing research in theoretical nuclear physics.”

“Don and I were incredibly fortunate to have such wonderful mentors,” notes Elyse Lehman, who received both her master’s and doctorate in psychology at GW. “We had the opportunity to learn from the best. Our support provides a way of honoring the faculty who played such an important role in our training and careers.”

The Lehmans moved to D.C. in 1964 after Don Lehman was assigned to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. When his supervisor suggested he work toward a doctorate, he knew GW was the school for him. While completing his dissertation, he joined the Physics Department as an instructor, his first appointment at GW. After a two-year post-doctoral period at the National Bureau of Standards, he returned to the University as an assistant professor—placing him on a career path at GW that would flourish during the years ahead.

Because of their commitment, the Lehmans are members of the Tempietto Circle of the Heritage Society, a GW recognition society that honors donors who make documented, planned gifts of $500,000 or more. The Lehmans also generously support the Gelman Library, the Richard Walk Scholars Fund, and other University projects.

Inspired by the accomplishments of the past and the opportunities of the future, the Lehmans actively are giving back to the University that they acknowledge gave so much to them. “At the many GW events we’ve attended, we’ve heard people talk about the GW family,” Elyse Lehman says. “We can honestly say from experience that there is such a family.”

A noted physicist, Don Lehman was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1988, and he received the Columbian College Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 1989 and The GW Award for Outstanding Contributions to the University in 2006.

Elyse Lehman is a former director of the Developmental, Biopsychology, and School Psychology programs at George Mason University. Her area of specialization is cognitive development in children. She currently serves as co-chair of the Gelman Library System Development Advisory Board.

Volunteers Play a Leading Role in Planning Alumni Weekend 2008, Sept. 25–28

As a member of her 25th Reunion Planning Committee, Jennifer Eckel, BA ’83, didn’t have to wait until her reunion to see familiar faces from college. A surprised Eckel walked into the first planning committee meeting to find one of her freshman-year suitemates. “The opportunity to reconnect quickly presented itself when I realized a fellow committee member was a Thurston Six roommate,” Eckel says.

Eckel was inspired to assist with her reunion after attending her husband’s (William Eckel, BS ’81) 25th reunion. She is one of several hundred alumni volunteers who participate in planning committees to help orchestrate a weekend that creates new memories and provides activities for all ages.

“There’s no limit to the ways alumni can become involved,” says GW Senior Director of Reunions Andrew Kaufteil. “Our philosophy is that we want people to participate to the extent of their interest and their availability.”

Reunion celebrations for the Classes of 2003, 1998, 1988, 1983, and 1958 and earlier are not the only activities to look forward to during Alumni Weekend 2008. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Greek life on campus and special events are planned to celebrate the 1960s during an era-based reunion for the Classes of 1960 through 1969. There also will be unique programming in conjunction with the election year, a Political Power Brunch, a Kalb Report program, an opportunity to meet President Knapp and view his new residence, a film screening of Matador, Family Day, and a variety of D.C. activities for all alumni, family, and friends.

“We call the weekend a ‘choose your own adventure,’ ” Kaufteil says. “It’s an opportunity to not only connect with classmates but also with the campus and the city based on experiences that specifically interest you.”

More than 1,500 people attended last year’s Alumni Weekend. To learn more about the 2008 Alumni Weekend or to get involved in your upcoming reunion, visit

—Caitlin Carroll


Dear Fellow Colonials,

As the weather warms, the days grow longer, and the flowers bloom in Washington, another GW Commencement ceremony approaches. We prepare to welcome several thousand graduates into our 220,000-person strong alumni community in May. On behalf of The George Washington Alumni Association, I congratulate the graduating students and their families and encourage them to remain engaged, to provide feedback, and to give back to their University.

This charge corresponds with the three priorities established by the GW Alumni Association for the next 18 months: Lifetime Engagement, Gathering a Voice, and Building a Culture of Philanthropy. After addressing Lifetime Engagement in my fall column, I now want to elaborate on our second goal.

Gathering a Voice: In short, we want to institutionalize a two-way dialogue between GW and its alumni through personal interaction with University officials and improved use of technology. I have met with President Steven Knapp several times and personally can attest to the significant value he places on alumni feedback and involvement in the life of the University.

One of the three main themes President Knapp highlighted during his inauguration was the University’s “need to strengthen our base of support among alumni by deepening their sense of belonging to GW as a lifelong and worldwide community.”

As their schedule allows, President Knapp and his wife, Diane Robinson Knapp, are traveling across the globe to listen to alumni and help build that sense of community.

Over the last five months, President Knapp has met with alumni in Washington, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, London, Paris, South Florida, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York City. You can visit to learn more about the president’s tour and alumni outreach.

If your town is not currently on President Knapp’s schedule or you are unable to make it when he visits, do not despair. There is a feedback form at, where you can share your thoughts with the president and the GW alumni relations staff.

The approximately 70,000 alumni in the greater Washington region, and those who travel to our nation’s capital, also will have opportunities to interact with GW’s president during the Colonial Conversation with President Knapp series at Alumni House @ 1918 F Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. This series will provide a comfortable and intimate setting where alumni can discuss current events and hot topics during an evening with President Knapp. More information on this series is available at

With alumni in more than 145 countries, we understand the important role technology plays in keeping in touch. Another major component of the Gathering a Voice initiative is to make our Web site——a destination for alumni.We are in the process of revamping the site to better meet your needs, and we encourage you to visit the Web to reconnect with your fellow Colonials by joining the online community and to explore the benefits available through the GW Alumni Association.

Remember, to “gather a voice” for alumni, we need your input! If you have an idea for an event, want to suggest an additional alumni benefit, or would like to see something new on our Web site, send an e-mail to us: We look forward to hearing from you and transforming your great ideas into new initiatives!

Richard Crespin, BA ’93
President, GW Alumni Association, 2007-09

Inaugural Tour Takes President Around the World

In a continued effort to strengthen The George Washington University community at home and abroad, President Steven Knapp launched an extensive inaugural tour last December—one that took him to four countries outside of the United States and more than a dozen cities.

The first leg of the trip took Knapp and his wife, Diane Robinson Knapp, to Asia and Europe where conversations with alumni, parents, friends, and institutional partners took place in Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, and London. The meetings gave Knapp the opportunity to listen, learn, and engage the international GW community in the life of the University, as well as share his ideas for GW’s future. A celebratory event sent the president back to Seoul: the inauguration of Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak. President Lee spent nearly two years at the GW School of Business as a visiting scholar. This return trip provided the opportunity to visit Taiwan and meet alumni and friends there. The second phase of the tour brought the Knapps closer to home with coast-to-coast events in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York.

“Talking with our alumni and friends and learning about their aspirations for GW is the reason for this inaugural tour,” says Laurel Price Jones, vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, who has been traveling with the president. “It is critical to the success of this University to build on our partnerships and secure the support of all constituents.”

London Alumna Meets President Knapp

Julia Rafal, BA ’04, and President Steven Knapp at a reception in London

On a cold Wednesday in January, Julia Rafal, BA ’04, left her flat in Cambridge, England, boarded the train, and headed for the Charing Cross Hotel in downtown London. Although she traveled the route many times, this trip was particularly significant because she was joining more than 25 study-abroad students from The George Washington University to meet and mingle with GW President Steven Knapp.

“It was fantastic to actually meet President Knapp,” Rafal says. “He was extremely approachable. He asked what my plans were, what I was interested in, and took the time to hear about my experiences.”

Knapp, who is committed to building a global “lifelong and worldwide community,” visited London as part of an international outreach tour. The objective of the ambitious trip was to solidify relationships among GW alumni, parents, friends, donors, and academic partners around the world.

A Marshall Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa/summa cum laude honors graduate of GW’s psychology program, Rafal is pursuing a doctorate in education policy at Cambridge University. As an undergraduate at GW, she was a recipient of the Hoover Scholarship and was instrumental in founding the University’s first mental health support group for students.

For many graduates, being a part of a well-connected alumni network is advantageous both professionally and socially. Rafal recognizes the importance of having access to mentors—including faculty members and other alumni—who are in a position to advise and encourage. “The one thing that I constantly tell people about GW is that you have the chance to build relationships with people who, although you don’t necessarily realize it at the time, can impact the type of opportunities you’re afforded in years to come.”

Rafal appreciates Knapp’s commitment to building and maintaining a strong international alumni community. “As a student, I don’t think I realized how many GW graduates lived abroad. President Knapp’s decision to engage this alumni network will, in my opinion, be key to the long-term success of GW students both past and present.”

Giving Societies Recognize Donor Generosity

Trustee Emeritus Clifford M. Kendall, MBA ’65 (center), and Camille Kendall with GW President Steven Knapp. The Kendalls are members of the 1821 Benefactors.

Since Luther Rice first raised $6,000 to open the original Columbian College in 1821, The George Washington University has relied on the generosity of donors to sustain and support its mission of providing the best in education, research, and service to the community. This same philanthropic tradition continues today and has helped make possible new academic initiatives, state-of-the-art facilities, a first-rate faculty, and a myriad of scholarship opportunities.

GW honors the generosity of the many alumni, parents, faculty and staff members, students, and other friends of the GW community through membership in its prestigious donor recognition societies. Some of the benefits of membership include attending exclusive receptions with the president, visiting dignitaries, celebrities, and entertainers; priority seating at GW sporting events; and recognition in GW publications.

Nearly 2,500 donors comprise GW’s donor recognition societies through contributions of $1,000 and above. Sixty-one members recently were inducted into the top four giving levels through their gifts of $500,000 or more to the University. These new inductees were celebrated at the President’s Ball in November, which was held during President Knapp’s inauguration week festivities.

“We are continually grateful to the many individuals who, through their continuous generosity, have made the GW experience so exceptional,” says Maureen Merluzzi, executive director for university stewardship. “We are pleased to honor them in our donor recognition societies.”

Donations to the University come in a variety of ways and include monetary contributions, charitable bequests, asset donations, and gifts-in-kind. Last fiscal year nearly 23,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations gave to GW, with gifts and commitments totaling a record $81 million.

For more information about the University donor recognition societies, send an e-mail to, call 202-994-8719, or visit

Five GW Graduates Receive 2008 Distinguished Alumni Service Awards

The George Washington Alumni Association honored five Colonials with Distinguished Alumni Service Awards on Thursday, April 10, at a ceremony in the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Distinguished Alumni Service Award is presented to alumni who advance GW’s mission through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs, thereby ensuring the University’s impact on our community and future generations of students.

Additionally, the Jane Lingo Distinguished Alumni Service Award was awarded for the first time this year. The award commemorates the service of Jane Lingo, BA ’46, who passed away in 2007. As an alumna, 50-year staff member, and friend, she was a lifelong participant in the GW family. This recognition will be awarded annually to a faculty or staff member who also is a GW graduate and who consistently advances the University’s mission through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs.

The 2008 Distinguished Alumni Service Awards recipients:

Kamden Hoffmann, MA ’02, MPH ’03, is a specialist in child and maternal health with the U.S. Agency for International Development. As president of the Public Health Alumni Association since 2006, Hoffmann has reorganized and revitalized the association. Additionally, she has been a member of the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2006.

Candace G. Kaplan, BA ’70, is the founder, CEO, and president of Kaplan Financial Group, a financial services and consulting firm. Kaplan has served as the chair for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences National Council for Arts and Sciences since 2005. Due to her demonstrated commitment to the University, Kaplan was tapped in 2005 to serve on the search committee to select the new Columbian College dean.

Alexia Morrison, JD ’72, is an attorney for the McCammon Group, a leader in mediation and arbitration. Morrison has served as a committee chair of the Law School Board of Advisors since 1999, is a former president of the GW Alumni Association (1996-98), and was a member of the GW Board of Trustees (1999-2005). In addition to her numerous volunteer duties, Morrison is an adjunct faculty member for GW Law School.

Christopher Young, BBA ’80, MAccy ’83 is a principal at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Young has served on the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors as treasurer (2002-04), president-elect (2004-05), president (2005-07), and past-president (2008). He also supports the GW Career Center, co-chaired his 25th reunion, hosted a Summer Connection event for incoming freshmen, and connects with students through the “Dinner with Alumni” program.

The recipient of the Jane Lingo Distinguished Alumni Service Award:

Amy Mazur, BA ’71, MA ’74, EdD ’77, is a professor of special education and director of teacher training programs at GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Mazur organized the GW student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children in 1977 and now serves as the University adviser to this group. She hosts reunion receptions for bilingual special education alumni, is a member of Columbian Women, and has volunteered for more than 100 GW committees.

Nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Service Awards are open to the entire alumni community. To learn more about the GW Alumni Association’s recognition programs, or to nominate fellow alumni, visit