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Development and Alumni Relations

$1 Million Gift Funds Student Exchange Program

Simon S. Lee, MS '05, Anna H. Lee, GW President Steven Knapp, and Korea University President Ki-Su Lee

Thanks to the generosity of Simon S. Lee, MS '05, and Anna H. Lee, undergraduate engineering students at The George Washington University will have the opportunity to study alongside Korean students and professors and extend their learning across the world. The Lees recently made a $1 million gift to GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science to fund a student exchange program with GW and Korea University in Seoul.

The Lees' gift will create the Simon and Anna Lee Korea University Endowment, which will provide assistance for GW engineering students who wish to study abroad at Korea University as a part of the Korea University Partnership. This partnership was created to establish an exchange program allowing Korean engineering students to study at GW, as well as SEAS students to study abroad at the College of Engineering at Korea University. SEAS will begin recruiting students for the program this fall with the first exchange expected to take place in January 2011.

"This endowment is not just about charity, it is not just about money," Mr. Lee says. "It is about building a bridge that links two outstanding educational institutions and brings students from two countries and cultures closer together. This is about building an educational partnership between the two countries I love."

Mr. Lee received a BS in industrial engineering from Korea University before immigrating to the United States in 1979 with his wife, Anna. He enrolled at GW in 1979 but was forced to put his education on hold because of financial pressures. Mr. Lee was finally able to finish the dream he had begun 25 years earlier when he earned a Master of Science in systems engineering from GW in 2005. Three of his children—Julie Lee, MS '05; Philip Lee, MS '05; and Michelle Lee, BBA '05, MS '08—also received degrees from GW.

David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, says that students gaining an international experience is key to success in today's world.

"In a world where technological challenges demand interdisciplinary approaches, and solutions hinge on a complex balance of technology, economics, policy, and politics, our graduates must be able to understand and embrace complexity," Dr. Dolling says. "They must be able to lead teams that may be spread across the globe, cutting across cultures, time zones, and many disciplines. Studying abroad helps lay the foundation for the development of this expertise."

Mr. Lee says he believes that the education he and his children received at GW is invaluable, and that enabling future SEAS students to share the educational experience that he was afforded is one way to give back to the university. The gift will especially aid students who would not be able to take advantage of GW's study abroad programs without financial aid.

"The education I received at Korea University helped shape me and provided the foundation for who I would become, and my education at GW served to fortify that foundation and expand upon an already solid base," Mr. Lee says. "For me, education is one of life's most important priorities and a cornerstone of society. When I give to GW I believe I am investing in the future."

Seven Honored with Alumni Awards

The 2010 Alumni Achievement Award recipients (from left): Lori Garver, Ellen Zane, Rose Gottemoeller, Michael Avenatti, GW President Steven Knapp, Asghar Mostafa, Vanessa Maltin, and Gregory Garre.

Dave Scavone

GW President Steven Knapp and The George Washington Alumni Association honored seven GW graduates with Alumni Achievement Awards at a ceremony at Washington's W Hotel on Sept. 30, 2010. Five individuals received Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards and two received Recent Alumni Achievement Awards.

The 2010 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients are:

Gregory G. Garre, JD '91, partner at Latham & Watkins LLP and former U.S. Solicitor General.

Lori B. Garver, MA '89, the deputy administrator and second in command of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Rose Gottemoeller, MA '81, assistant secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation.

Asghar Mostafa, BS '82, president, CEO, and chairman of technology company Entourage Systems Inc.

Ellen Zane, BA '73, president and chief executive officer of Tufts Medical Center and the Floating Hospital for Children.

This year's Recent Alumni Achievement Award honorees are:

Michael J. Avenatti, JD '00, a founding partner of Eagan O'Malley & Avenatti.

Vanessa Maltin, BA '05, food and lifestyle editor for Delight! Magazine and author of two gluten-free cookbooks.

GW Hosts Global Forum in NYC

The Second annual GW Global Forum brought more than 300 alumni, faculty, and friends from 14 countries to New York City for discussions about timely global issues and for opportunities to connect with fellow Colonials.

The event line-up included keynote speakers Anwar Gargash, BA '81, MA '84, and GW parent, minister of state for foreign affairs, United Arab Emirates; Elisabeth Préval, MBA '88 and GW parent, first lady, Republic of Haiti; Carlos Slim, chairman, Grupo Carso and chairman, Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud; and John W. Snow, JD '67, 73rd secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury.

School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno interviewed Mr. Slim and Dr. Snow. He asked the former Treasury secretary about the dynamic between the U.S. and China.

"We each have an interest in seeing the other do well," responded Dr. Snow. "When China does well, it creates opportunities for our markets…China wants to see us do well, in the sense that they want to see us continue to be a market for them and they also want to see our Treasuries continue to hold value."

Mr. Sesno chatted with Mr. Slim about his business and philanthropic interests, then asked, "If there were one problem in the world that you could fix, what would that be?"

"Poverty," Mr. Slim answered. "I think poverty in the past was a problem of social justice, it was an ethical problem. Today it is an economic need."

In her remarks, Mrs. Préval outlined the significant challenges her country faces in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake, but noted that she is encouraged by the resolve of the Haitian people and by the support from the international community. She also shared her "deep gratitude to George Washington for its constant and growing effort to support the reconstruction process of Haiti."

The program also included panel discussions on the global financial crisis, led by Doug Guthrie, dean of GW's School of Business, and on global women's issues, led by Barbara Miller, associate dean for faculty affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

For a video recap and photos from the forum, visit

Carlos Slim, recipient of the university's President's Medal and chairman of Grupo Carso and of Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud, announced that his foundation is working with Peter Hotez, chair of GW's Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, to address disease and poverty.

Ben Solomon

From left to right: Frank Sesno, John Snow, Steven Lerman, W. Russell Ramsey, Steven Knapp, Carlos Slim, Elisabeth Préval and Anwar Gargash.

Ben Solomon

From The GWAA President

Laura Taddeucci Downs, BA '92, MA '95

Dear Fellow Colonials,

The breadth of our alumni community continually amazes me. To know that we have more than 225,000 alumni living in 150 countries around the globe—including nearly 10,000 GW graduates living outside of the United States—is truly astounding.

While statistics are informative, it is really the collective accomplishments of GW graduates on display at programs like the GW Global Forum (See GW Hosts Global Forum in NYC) that highlight the power of our alumni community. The second annual Global Forum—held in late October in New York City after a successful inaugural event in Hong Kong in 2009—brought together alumni, parents, students, and friends of the university for a dialogue about noteworhy international concerns and to establish new personal connections.

The forum drew hundreds of alumni from around the globe and highlighted the expertise of prominent alumni and faculty members. It continued to raise the bar in terms of GW programming for a global audience.

Earlier in the fall we had alumni from England, Kuwait, and Thailand travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in Alumni Weekend. But we realize alumni living abroad cannot continually travel to the United States for programs. With the growth of our international alumni programming, Colonials living abroad increasingly do not need to come to GW; we bring GW to them.

In fiscal year 2010, the university hosted programs in 14 countries outside of the United States that drew nearly 600 attendees. Programs like the GW Global Forum and International Summer Send-Offs (See Summer Send-Offs Draw 1,000 Colonials) have allowed the university to connect with alumni, students, and parents on their home turf and help ensure geographic distance is not a hindrance to participation.

We also developed programs like international alumni ambassadors, which equips alumni from the United States who travel abroad frequently with resources to update international alumni on happenings at their alma mater.

And to provide international alumni with more of a voice in the inner workings of the GW Alumni Association, we have created an international programs committee. Pilar Rivera, BBA '96, who serves as the committee chair, is a member of the GWAA Executive Committee and works closely with the staff at GW Alumni House.

We have forged a solid foundation but recognize there is more to do. That is where you come in. We need alumni to share their ideas about what more GW can offer.

Check out our calendar of events, benefits, and programs at If you have any suggestions for programs—international or domestic—please send me an e-mail to


Laura Taddeucci Downs, BA '92, MA '95
President, GW Alumni Association, 2009-11

Play Ball!

National Pastime Brings Together All-Star Alumni

Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Lemon once said that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen. For GW alumni, both were in abundance at ballparks across the country this summer during the annual Major League Baseball events hosted by the Luther Rice Society and GW Alumni Association.

Hundreds of alumni and friends gathered in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to cheer on the hometown teams and meet with university leaders and ball club executives. Yankees President Randy Levine, BA '77, welcomed members of the Luther Rice Society in New York; White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, BA '57, mingled with attendees in Chicago; and Nationals owner Ted Lerner, AA '48, LLB '50, and then-Nationals President Stan Kasten held a Q&A with alumni in D.C. that covered everything from Strasburg to community service. GW President Steven Knapp was also in attendance at the games.

The Luther Rice Society and GW Alumni Association host a number of alumni and member events throughout the year.

Washington DC

Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner, AA '48, LLB '50

New York

Alan Lafer, BA '77, and Randy Levine, BA '77, Yankees President


GW President Steven Knapp and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, BA '57

Summer Send-Offs Draw 1,000 Colonials

Events connect alumni with new students in their home towns

More than 1,000 students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends attended the 2010 Summer Send-Offs in locations such as, Orange County, Calif. (above), and Mumbai (below).

Al Nadel, BS '71, JD '76, and Anne Cutler, BA '81, have been involved with the GW Summer Send-Off program for nearly 20 years. They co-hosted an event in Philadelphia this July, one of the 25 Summer Send-Offs in cities around the globe, to help welcome students and their families to the Colonial community.

"The beginning of the evening is always a little tentative as people arrive," Nadel explains. "Invariably, by the end of the evening, the students are all congregating together…it's fun to see the kids come in so reticent, and by the end of the evening they really are engaged."

More than 1,000 students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends attended the 2010 Summer Send-Offs held in 18 locations around the U.S., as well as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai.

Neil Portnow, BA '71, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and GW Board of Trustees member Randy Levine, BA ’'77, president of the New York Yankees, were among the notable Send-Off hosts.

Ahram Lee, a senior majoring in international affairs, joined the Seoul Summer Send-Off. "As a senior, I had many thoughts about the future," he recounts. "Attending the Seoul Summer Send-off gave [me] a great opportunity not only to share such concerns, but also to receive more in-depth advice from GW alumni who are in professional fields."

The connections made at Summer Send-Offs can help students transition in to their freshman year at GW, but ideally the relationships built through these programs continue beyond a single event.

Ms. Cutler, who co-hosted the Philadelphia Send-Off, said one of her favorite things about being involved with the program for nearly two decades has been seeing individuals who attended Summer Send-Offs as freshmen coming back to the event five or 10 years later as alumni.

Mr. Nadel, a patent attorney, recounted a story about how he had lunch this year with a student who he had met at a previous Summer Send-Off. "After lunch I brought him up to the firm, sat him down, and showed him exactly what I do. It's all about making these types of connections."

The Summer Send-Off series is a partnership among the GW Office of Alumni Relations, Office of the Dean of Freshmen, Parents Campaign, Office of Parent Services, and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. For more information, visit

GW Parents Endow Student Aid Scholarship

GW parents Kalpesh and Shefali Patel, who made a $100,000 gift in support of the GW Power & Promise Fund for student aid.

Kalpesh and Shefali Patel became new members of the George Washington community this fall when their son became a freshman at GW. It didn't take long for them to reach out to help support their new extended family.

Wanting other bright, capable students to have the same opportunities as their son, the Patels made a $100,000 gift in support of the GW Power & Promise Fund for student aid to endow The Shantilal P. Patel Scholarship.

The Patels chose to name the scholarship after Kalpesh's father, Shantilal P. Patel, who was not able to pursue his educational aspirations as a young man due to financial limitations. "We dedicated this gift to him because we feel a scholarship can truly change the course of a student's life as well as take the burden off parents who want more than anything to be able to fulfill their child's dream."

Shantilal Patel was born in a small, rural village in India in the 1940s. His father died shortly after he was born, leaving his mother widowed with three small children. In those days, most women in India were not educated and Shantilal's mother had to farm a small parcel of land to support her young family. Despite their meager lifestyle, Shantilal's mother wanted to send her three boys to school knowing that education was their only way out of poverty.

An excellent student who graduated high school with academic distinction, Shantilal's dream was to go to medical school. Despite the financial obstacles facing his family, he applied hoping for a miracle.

"The day the acceptance letter arrived, my father was out running errands," Kalpesh recounts. "His mother opened the letter and, knowing she could not afford the tuition, knew my father would be heartbroken that he was accepted but would be unable to attend. She decided to burn the letter and told my father when he returned that he had been rejected and she had burned the letter as she was angry with their decision."

Shantilal would not discover the truth until years later and to this day often wonders what his life would be like had he attended medical school.

Kalpesh and Shefali, who came to the U.S. 20 years ago with just their diplomas and their suitcases, credit their own successes to education and hard work and hope that this endowed scholarship fund will ensure that bright and talented students are not stopped short of their dreams because of finances. The annual need-based scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences with preference given to students who perform community service.

"We both really believe that the best gift one can give to a child is an education," say the Patels. "We are excited to share our reason for giving with other parents, and to let them know any contribution can snowball into changing the course of a student's life, which is a powerful outcome."

To make a gift to the Power & Promise Fund, please visit

Alumni Weekend Draws Thousands Back to Campus

The Barenaked Ladies concert (above) and photo booth (below) were two of the big hits at Alumni Weekend 2010. For more photos, visit

More than 2,500 alumni returned to campus to participate in the 50-plus events scheduled during Alumni Weekend 2010, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.

Highlights of the weekend included a concert by Barenaked Ladies; a discussion of women in politics featuring analysts Eleanor Clift from Newsweek, Norah O'Donnell from MSNBC, and EMILY's List founder Ellen Malcolm, MBA '84; the Alumni Achievement Awards presentation; an open house at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery featuring alumnus John Safer's, AA '46, BA '47, sculptures; multicultural alumni events; class and affinity reunions; and an open house with President Steven Knapp.

Events on Saturday included a breakfast with deans from schools across GW, tours of campus and Thurston Hall, a 3k run around the monuments with the basketball team, receptions for Latino and LGBT alumni, and the Taste of GW, which showcased food from 13 restaurants owned and operated by alumni.

On Saturday evening the GW Black Alumni Association presented IMPACT Awards to Daniel B. Fagbuyi, BS '95, MD '99, medical director of disaster preparedness and emergency management at Children's National Medical Center and assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at GW School of Medicine, Vincent Gray, BA '64, fresh off his win in Washington's Democratic mayoral primary, and Joseph R. Rogers Jr., BA '99, director of policy and civic engagement, Education Voters of New York.

Saturday night also featured special reunions for current and former Presidential Administrative Fellows, Student Association members, several Greek organizations, athletic teams and the classes of 1995, 2000, and 2005.

"This weekend has been a watershed moment for me, and its great to be back in the fold and to share and build on the positive experiences at GW," says Rennie Silva, BA '05, who attended the Barenaked Ladies concert, the Latino Alumni Association reception, and his 2005 class reunion.

Liberty Mutual, an alumni benefit provider, provided financial support for Alumni Weekend 2010. Alumni Weekend 2011 will be held Sept. 15-18 in Washington, D.C.

The Transformation of the Charles E. Smith Center Continues

Thanks to the challenge gift from the Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod, GW students and the Foggy Bottom community are already enjoying many of the transformational elements of Phases I and II of the Charles E. Smith Center project. Phase III is well underway and will dramatically enhance the exterior into a vibrant centerpiece of campus. This final Phase will complete the three-year renovation of this signature facility in the heart of the Foggy Bottom campus and community. It includes:

  • A renovated exterior façade
  • A new hall of fame and box office entryway
  • An improved concessions concourse

GW has received $8.9 million in gifts toward the Charles E. Smith Center initiative, bringing the $10 million goal in sight! Join us in making the final stage of the transformation a reality. Learn more about gift and naming opportunities by contacting Dan Rocha at or 202-994-9366. You can also visit

Senior Class Gift Kick-Off

The 2011 Senior Class Gift Campaign kicked off by providing more than 200 seniors with breakfast at Alumni House and the chance to mingle with classmates before the start of fall classes. This year's committee, which aids in the promotion of the campaign, is led by senior Eric Thibault and comprises 45 members representing all five undergraduate schools and more than 90 student organizations and university departments. 

While students can give to whatever part of the university that has meant the most to them over their four years at GW, their gifts will be generously matched by members of the Luther Rice Society to provide a gift on behalf of the class of 2011.

This year's theme, "Live up to the Cha11enge," encourages seniors to meet a goal of raising 1,100 senior gifts. The campaign will continue to host events throughout the year aimed at educating seniors about becoming involved and staying engaged as alumni.