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Development and Alumni Relations

Celebrating Power & Promise Scholarships

Recipients personally thank donors at seventh annual celebration

GW President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman participate in a pinning ceremony for new endowed fund donors, including GW faculty member Ambassador Philip Kaplan (second from left) and his wife, Barbara, and David Karlgaard, DSc '74 (far right).

More than 150 George Washington University students thanked the donors who helped fund their education April 1 at the GW Power & Promise Celebration of Scholarships and Fellowships dinner. Held this year at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C., the annual event celebrates the generous donors who establish and contribute to scholarships and fellowships for students at GW.

The evening unveiled the new GW Power & Promise 2011 video and featured a pinning ceremony for new endowed fund donors. Among those present to receive their pins were former GW faculty member Ambassador Philip Kaplan and his wife, Barbara, and David Karlgaard, DSc '74. Twenty-three new endowed scholarships and fellowships have been created this year.

Dr. Karlgaard, who along with his wife, Marilyn, endowed the Karlgaard Scholarship in Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2010, was the evening's keynote speaker. A member of the GW Board of Trustees, Dr. Karlgaard received a doctoral degree in electrical engineering and computer science from SEAS in 1974.

Vice Chair of GW's Board of Trustees Nelson Carbonell, BS '85, and his wife, Michele, attended the GW Power & Promise dinner to meet with one of their student recipients, Andrew Vasko, BS '13.

President Steven Knapp announced the creation of the GW Power & Promise Fund for student aid in 2008 to increase access and affordability for current and future GW students. Annual gifts for student aid have more than doubled since he arrived on campus in 2007.

Three out of five GW students receive some sort of financial aid, with many receiving assistance from the more than 400 donor-funded scholarships and fellowships.

GW's Power & Promise Fund aims to ensure that qualified students, regardless of their financial situations, can take full advantage of a GW education and reduce the loan burden of graduates. Annual gifts to the Power & Promise Fund rose to $1.3 million in 2010, which accounted for 22 percent of all annual giving.

(Left to right) Mark Forrest, associate director of clubs and groups; Francisco Semiao, MPH '02, director of development for SPHHS; Venessa Perry, MPH '99, member of the Black Alumni Philanthropic Society; and Roslyn M. Brock, MS '89, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors

Black Alumni Association Honors
NAACP Chair at Reunion

On April 9, GW hosted the fourth annual Black Alumni Reunion at the American Foreign Services Association in Washington, D.C. More than 40 alumni gathered for the daylong event, which included a reception with black faculty and staff members and a luncheon honoring Roslyn M. Brock, MS '89, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. After lunch, members of the group joined Bernard Demczuk, PhD '08, GW assistant vice president for D.C. government relations, for his "Spirit of Black Foggy Bottom" walking tour. Mr. Demczuk, who created the tour a few years ago, led the group through sites in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood that have connections to the Civil War, the civil rights movement, and D.C.'s black history.

From The GWAA President

Laura Taddeucci Downs, BA '92, MA '95

Dear Fellow Colonials,

As your George Washington Alumni Association president, it is my distinct pleasure to take the podium at Commencement on the National Mall and welcome graduates to the worldwide alumni community. As I told the Class of 2011, for every stage of your life, wherever you may live, the GW Alumni Association is here to serve you.

To meet the needs of recent graduates—from career services, to online connections, to social events, to alumni discounts—we have developed the Young Alumni Network (YAN). As well as offering events tailored to young alumni, YAN allows you to:

  • audit GW courses for $125
  • access premium online library resources
  • receive discounted Zipcar® memberships
  • obtain 10 percent off select Kaplan Test Prep courses

There are no paperwork or fees—all graduates of the past 10 years are automatically YAN members!

Another benefit available to all alumni—but widely used by our young alumni in these difficult economic times—is the ability to harness the power of the alumni network.

There are 225,000 alumni around the globe who share your affinity for GW. More than 14,000 Colonials are members of our GW Alumni Association LinkedIn group, and 1,100-plus GW graduates have volunteered to provide counsel through our online Career Advisor Network.

Leveraging these networks can help you get your foot in the door and establish meaningful professional relationships. I encourage you to explore these resources online and build lifelong connections!

Transitioning to a personal note, this marks my last column as your GW Alumni Association president. Jim Core, MA '96, will take the helm as GWAA president at the association's annual meeting on June 16.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors for their hard work! And to all the alumni who remain involved with your alma mater—by attending events, mentoring students, making a gift, or connecting with fellow alumni in your region—a big thank you! I hope you will consider someday joining the GWAA Board of Directors. Serving on the board is a rewarding way to give back to your alma mater in a leadership role.

I also appreciate the support of GW's Board of Trustees, President Knapp, administrators, faculty, and staff, who have invested in alumni relations and always have an open door for the Alumni Association. And last but not least, kudos to GW students for your continued inspiration.

I am proud of what we have accomplished in the past two years—including establishing the President's Advisory Council and examining the structure of the board to make it more representative of the alumni community—and pleased to have been able to work with so many wonderful people.

Great things are happening at GW and throughout our worldwide community. Whether you graduated in 1961 or 2011, stay involved and take advantage of all that GW has to offer!


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

Alumni Participation: Why It Matters

Alumni participation refers to the percentage of George Washington alumni who give to the university each fiscal year. It is universally regarded as the best way to measure alumni satisfaction with their alma mater, based on the assumption that alumni who are satisfied with their education will participate by giving. For this reason, alumni participation is considered by publications like U.S. News & World Report when determining GW's national college ranking each year. The rankings influence how others view GW and also affect the university's ability to secure grants from corporations and other organizations.

These publications and institutions do not look at the dollar amount of alumni gifts, just the percentage of alumni who give each year. This means a gift of $25 is just as important as a gift of $2,500 when it comes to alumni participation.

Alumni gifts to any area of the university count in participation rates, so GW alumni are encouraged to give to whatever area is important to them—from the Power & Promise Fund for student aid to their school or academic program, athletics, or student organizations.

To give online, visit Or to make a gift over the phone, please call 1-800-789-2611.

While improved rankings and greater recognition increase the value of a GW degree, the bottom line is that alumni gifts help sustain the George Washington University. Collectively, thousands of individual gifts allow us to support scholarships and fellowships, groundbreaking research, an excellent faculty, and GW's vibrant student life experience.

Gifts of all sizes make a difference; last year, gifts of $100 and less totaled almost $1 million. So please make your gift of any size by the end of GW's fiscal year on June 30. GW relies on the collective power of alumni gifts each and every year.

Trustee-Funded Course Brings Renowned Jewish Author to Campus

Acclaimed author E.L. Doctorow reads from his new book as part of the Jewish Literature Live course.

William Atkins

GW President Steven Knapp welcomed an audience of more than 200 to Funger Hall April 7 for a special event featuring renowned author E.L. Doctorow, who read from his new book, All the Time in the World, and spoke about his artistic process. The award-winning author was on campus as a part of English professor Faye Moskowitz's Jewish Literature Live course, which gives students the opportunity to read novels or short story collections and then pose questions to the authors when they visit. Students in the course had read Mr. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel.

"The most important benefit for student and professor alike is the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the author," Ms. Moskowitz says. "We are able to ask questions about author intent, inspiration, and influences on the spot without an intermediary."

Among those in attendance was trustee David Bruce Smith, BA '79, who funds the course. Mr. Smith and his family are longtime GW benefactors. He has established two scholarship funds for undergraduate students and has provided support for other GW initiatives such as the Charles E. Smith Center, the Cancer Institute, and the President's Fund for Excellence.

"Thanks to the generosity of David Bruce Smith, some fortunate GW students—and their equally lucky professor—will encounter the work of established, as well as emerging, Jewish American writers and then have an opportunity for face-to-face dialogue with those writers," Ms. Moskowitz says.

In addition to E.L. Doctorow, the course brought five other Jewish authors to campus during the spring semester, including poet and literary critic Adam Kirsch and novelist Steve Stern. Previous authors featured in the class include Pulitzer Prize-winners Michael Chabon and Art Spiegelman.

"I don't know where else students have an opportunity to meet with a series of authors in such an intimate setting," Ms. Moskowitz says. "Truly, this is a literature course of a lifetime and GW students are very fortunate to have such an unforgettable experience."

Alumni Course Audit Program Offers New Beginnings

Two years ago, Michael Tokar, BS '74, retired from the federal government. He felt the need to "change and be a part of something else" outside of his career in science and engineering.

Music provided this change for Mr. Tokar. He had taken piano lessons many years ago and continued to enjoy music.

The Alumni Course Audit Program offered Mr. Tokar the opportunity to reconnect with music and GW. So far, he has audited three music courses with plans to audit another this fall. He has been taking piano lessons again, too.

"Music is about emotion, and performing, and challenge, and expression," he says.Most of all, it's about people getting together to enjoy one another through this unique language that we all have experienced."

Mr. Tokar adds that his GW music courses have helped him look at retirement as a new beginning rather than an end.

Having graduated years ago, Mr. Tokar notes that although there have been physical changes on campus, "one thing that remains the same is that GW has an excellent teaching staff along with many exceptionally talented students. I feel honored to be given this opportunity to interact with the teachers and students in the music department."

The Alumni Course Audit Program allows all GW alumni—and D.C. residents 60 and older who reside in the neighborhoods surrounding GW's Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses—to attend a wide selection of GW courses on a not-for-credit basis.

Registration begins one week prior to the start of each semester. Per course, the cost is $125 for alumni under the age of 60 and $65 for alumni and Foggy Bottom/Mount Vernon campus area residents over 60. Departmental listings and registration forms are available at

The Gift of Giving to GW

Estate gift boosts study of government procurement law, establishes professorship

By Les and Kathy Megyeri

Our commitment to make the George Washington University the beneficiary of our estate came about after a recent automobile accident, but our long affiliation with the school dates back to the late 1950s.

Les, a refugee to this country following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, came to the United States with an expectation of a free education as it is in Hungary—an assumption he quickly discovered was not the case. After being turned away from a nearby university because he could not afford tuition, Les sought financial aid from GW's then-treasurer, Morris Hartfield. Somehow the university arranged the necessary financing, and Les enrolled at GW as an undergraduate student in economics.

In 1962, I met Les in Professor Hennigen's speech class in the basement of Lisner Auditorium. He was working part time as a waiter (luckily, this provided him with two meals a day, albeit at 5 p.m. and midnight) and I later supported him through law school on my yearly salary of $4,700.

After we married, the two of us continued to amass five degrees at GW, so the school has been an intricate part of our lives for half a century. Les' first legal position, a clerkship in the U.S. General Accounting Office, resulted from a conversation with GW Law Professor John Cibinic, a government contracts expert who took an enormous amount of pride in placing his students in law firms and government agencies.

As Les and I approach 70 years of age, we recognize the extent to which GW has impacted our lives and want to remain a part of the institution even after we pass away. We also appreciate the direction that GW is taking to establish itself as a nationally renowned school of research and we hope to contribute to its success. For these reasons, we decided to make GW the beneficiary of our estate through a revocable trust and will.

We discussed a number of worthy initiatives including scholarships, faculty and librarian positions, facility upgrades, and the deans' funds. In other words, the myriad giving opportunities guarantees that one's desires for a lasting legacy will be met and reflect one's own unique circumstances and charitable objectives.

Eventually we decided on two initiatives that hold particular meaning to us: We established an endowed chair in government procurement law and contributed to the existing Nash-Cibinic Professorship, which honors John Cibinic, the professor who made such an impact on Les' life. The entire process was directed with ease and respect for our desires. The paperwork consisted of no more than a will being drawn and a confirmation of our asset portfolio.

And what have we gained? We now have peace of mind that should we, God forbid, not survive our next automobile accident, our estate matters have been settled and our charitable wishes met. The university will benefit from the fact that, not only did we meet at GW, but we were both able to make a comfortable life together from the education we received there. Additionally, we gained membership into the Heritage Society, a group of like-minded individuals who have chosen to leave a legacy at GW through their estate planning. We've been truly blessed by the school, its leadership, and its scholarship, and now it's our turn to say "thank you" through our planned giving.

The seven-figure bequest in the estate plans of Leslie (BA '63, JD '68, MBA '80) and Kathryn (MA '69, MA '82) Megyeri is completing the Nash-Cibinic Professorship and establishing the Megyeri Chair in Government Procurement Law. These professorships will join 44 endowed faculty positions at GW Law.

The Nash-Cibinic Professorship in Government Procurement Law and the Megyeri Chair in Government Procurement Law will ensure that government procurement law, an academic discipline founded by GW Law in 1960, continues to grow in significance and impact within the Law School and nationally, in academia as well as in policy and practice.

Mr. Megyeri is president of the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America. He came to the United States as a refugee following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He credits his success in this country especially to the legal training he received at the Law School from John Cibinic, who took great pride in placing his students in law firms and government agencies city-wide. Mrs. Megyeri, enjoyed a long and successful teaching career, thanks to her graduate education at the GW School of Education and Human Development. They are grateful to have met each other in the basement of Lisner Auditorium when both were enrolled in the same speech class.

Business Plan Competition Winners Receive $25,000

MBA student Anthony Shop, Thomas Sanchez, and Daniel Zaslavsky, winners of the 2011 Business Plan Competition, celebrate with Jim Chung, director of GW's Office of Entrepreneurship; Business Plan Competition Director John Rollins; competition sponsor Annette Scott; Edward R. Barrientos, MBA '90; and judges Mario Cardullo and Bill Wilson.

Jessica McConnell Burt

Master of Business Administration student Anthony Shop, alumnus David Raffel, BA '76, Daniel Zaslavsky, and Thomas Sanchez beat out a record 112 teams to win the 2011 GW Business Plan Competition. Their idea, Lead Driver, allows car dealers to provide brochures tailored to customer preferences.

The GW Business Plan Competition finals in April was a two-day culmination of a yearlong series of educational events and mentorship for teams of GW students, faculty members, and alumni. The event is funded by entrepreneurs Florida Gov. Richard Scott and his wife, Annette, whose daughter Allison Guimard, BBA '05, is also an entrepreneur. Additional sponsors this year included Blank Rome, iStrategyLabs, and Tech Cocktail. This year's participants received guidance from mentors and weekly workshops, which trained participants on how to conduct market research, make financial projections, and give oral presentations.

Lead Driver is already in use at five dealerships in Kansas City, Mo. The web-based software, DealerPrints, creates brochures that are made specifically for the dealership, the car, and the customer. A dealership's sales staff enters unique information about the customers and their needs and generates a personalized brochure for them to shorten the sale cycle.

"This win is a great boost of confidence for us," Mr. Shop says. The team will use the funding to implement Lead Driver in 24 dealerships in Kansas City and Chicago.

"The judges were very impressed that Lead Driver is a product that's up and running today in multiple car dealerships and also that it was a multidisciplinary team," Business Plan Director John Rollins says. "That kind of balance makes a big difference when you're starting a business."

The company prevailed during four rounds of competition that included developing an executive summary and business plan, as well as two rounds of oral presentations in front of a panel of entrepreneurs and venture capital investors, including alumni and friends of GW. One of this year's judges, Edward R. Barrientos, MBA '90, CEO and chairman of the board of Brazen Careerist, received GW's 2011 Annual Entrepreneurship Award.

The three runner-up teams—Bookstore Genie, Leafworks, and Ascend Air—received $10,000, $4,000, and $1,000, respectively. GW junior Farhan Daredia of Bookstore Genie, a company that sells textbooks online at the cheapest price, also won $10,000 for best undergraduate plan. Leafworks sells disposable dinnerware made of leaves and offers sustainable tips. Ascend Air is a skyship that helps executives in Virginia avoid traffic during their commute.

Ford Foundation Grant Supports Dialogue on Key China Issues

The Elliott School of International Affairs China Policy Program at GW will partner with several international organizations to discuss key issues thanks to a recent grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant will be used to convene policy dialogues and scholarly conferences as part of a multinational project—"Integrating China Globally: Bilateral and Regional Dialogues"—which will address key issues surrounding China's domestic evolution and international posture.

The China Policy Program will partner with the East-West Center and the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Sydney) for the "First American-Australian Dialogue on China" in Honolulu. In Beijing, it will host the "Fifth U.S.-China Dialogue on Sino-American Relations in the Global Context" with the China Institute of International Studies and the "International Dialogue on Reforms in the Communist Party of China" with the International Department of the Communist Party of China. The China Policy Program will also host the "Seventh American-European Dialogue on China" in Paris with the Asia Centre at Sciences Po.

"Hosting unique dialogues in different regions of the world is an important way to inject new and different perspectives into the ongoing global discourse about China's domestic evolution and role in the world," says David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program and political science and international affairs professor. "The rise of China impacts the entire global order, not only the United States."

Affiliated with GW's Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the China Policy Program was created in 1998 to build upon the Elliott School's longstanding expertise and involvement in U.S.-China relations and contemporary Chinese affairs. It serves primarily as an outreach program to governments, media, and academic and research institutions concerned with China.

A Clarion Call

Elliott School Receives $3.15 Million to Support Research and Policy Engagement

Philanthropy is an investment and a partnership," says the anonymous donor who contributed $3.15 million to the Elliott School of International Affairs. "It is more than writing a check," he adds, noting that it took many conversations with university leadership to determine how to achieve his aspirations and those of the school.

Elliott School Dean Michael Brown agrees. "A gift of this magnitude is based on true partnership between the individual and the institution. Our donor believes in the mission of the Elliott School, shares our aspirations, and is tremendously supportive of our strategic plans and initiatives. It is gratifying to work with someone who shares our commitment to studying critical global issues and making the world a better place."

The gift, says Dean Brown, is complex and funds research and policy engagement. "This will have a tremendous impact because it is multifaceted and interconnected. The Elliott School is intensely interdisciplinary, and our programs are interconnected with other schools, departments, and programs across campus. This gift will strengthen the Elliott School's academic capacities and raise our institutional profile across a range of key international issues. This is good for the Elliott School, for GW, for America, and for the world—a win-win-win-win proposition."

The donor applauds university and Elliott School leadership, calling the gift "a tribute to Chairman [W. Russell] Ramsey, President [Steven] Knapp, and Dean Brown who took an active role in achieving their goals and mine."

This gift goes beyond 1957 E Street, Dean Brown says. "It will have an immediate, substantial, and tangible impact on the Elliott School and its programs, and benefit our students, faculty, and our broader academic community."

Inspiring other donors is one of the donor's aspirations. "This is a clarion call to other philanthropists to roll up your sleeves and get involved in your philanthropy—don't be afraid to tackle complicated problems," he says. "Take an interest in a partnership that provides a solution bigger than any one person."

"This extraordinary gift enhances the capacity and profile of GW's Elliott School as a global leader in the study of the most important issues facing humanity in the 21st century."
— Elliott School Dean Michael Brown

The gift of $3.15 million over three years will fund:

Research institute and project support: Funds will support institutional research projects, faculty and student research; new courses; and special events, workshops and conferences sponsored by the Elliott School's Institute for International Economic Policy, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, and Global Gender Initiative.

Institutional capacity-building: The gift funds four new associate director positions at the Elliott School, which will support initiatives through project development, fundraising, and building external relationships.

Outreach: The gift expands the Web Video Initiative which provides for dissemination of many of the Elliott School's signature events around the world via the school's website.