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Alumni News

250,000 Alumni and Going Strong

This spring's Commencement marked a milestone for the members of the class of 2012 and for the university: For the first time, the GW community includes more than a quarter million living alumni.

GW's 250,000-alumni base consists of graduates living in more than 150 countries and all 50 states. There are prominent alumni in fields from media to law, sports to politics, medicine to business, and many more. Graduates include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, MBA '71, actor Kerry Washington, BA '98, CNN correspondent Dana Bash, BA '93, U.S. Representative Eric Cantor, BA '85, and fashion mogul Rachel Zoe, BA '93, to name just a few.

Graduating students—along with their family members and guests—were shown a video at Commencement celebrating the breadth of the alumni community. (You can view the video and the entire infographic at


Got a GW Degree? Try Six.

Glenn Geelhoed, Res. '75, MA '91, MPH '93, MA '95, MPhil '02, EdD '09, is the only alum to have earned six degrees from GW and one of only two individuals to hold five or more GW degrees.

"I think learning and life are pretty much synonymous," says Dr. Geelhoed, a professor of surgery and international medical education at GW. "I don't want to be in a position where I say 'OK, I've got that down, I don't need to learn anything more on that subject.'"

Dr. Geelhoed is joined in the five-or-more-degrees club by George McCullars, MS '71, MPhil '74, MD '75, PhD '76, Res. '77, who is now in private practice in Mobile, Ala.

"It was worth all the effort…I didn't do this for the earning capacity. I did it for the learning experience afforded me at GW," Dr. McCullars says. "Every single day was exciting."

These two prolific learners also have a personal connection: Dr. Geelhoed was Dr. McCullars' surgery professor at GW medical school.

"I've crossed a lot of finish lines—I've run 138 marathons—and I can tell you the final tape isn't why you run the race," Dr. Geelhoed says. "I've crossed quite a few podiums at GW too, and that isn't the finish of your education, it just provides you the tools to start. That's why they call it commencement; it's a beginning, not an end."

Dr. Geelhoed and Dr. McCullars are among a group of about 100 alumni who have earned four or more degrees from the university.

First GW Alumnus Named Gates Cambridge Scholar

Todd Tucker, BA '01

Todd Tucker, BA '01, has been studying poverty since he was a child.

The son of missionaries doing social work in South America, Mr. Tucker would accompany his father on his trips into the slums of Argentina and Costa Rica at a young age. He noticed early on that although the children he met lived in extreme poverty, they were entrepreneurial and street smart, and could easily figure out how to get the assistance they needed from the visiting missionaries.

"It was apparent that these kids in a different social context might have really prospered," he says. "Even at that age, I was interested in understanding those political and economic structures better and figuring out how and why they persisted over time."

That interest led him to earn a bachelor's degree from the Elliot School of International Affairs and a master's degree in development studies at Cambridge University with the support of a GW Bender Scholarship. This August, Mr. Tucker will return to Cambridge to pursue his doctorate as the first GW alumnus to be named a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship Program is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and provides full scholarships to graduate programs at Cambridge for students from outside the U.K. Similar to the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, the program aims to identify future leaders who are committed to improving the lives of others.

Through the fellowship, Mr. Tucker will pursue a doctoral degree in Cambridge's new development studies PhD program. His dissertation looks at how international investment agreements have constrained or enabled developing countries' economic development policies, an area that he currently researches for the global trade watch division of Public Citizen, a D.C.-based nonprofit.

"The department [at Cambridge] takes a very rich and textured approach to questions of economic development," Mr. Tucker says. "They look at not just economic theories and economic models, but how economic policies play out on the ground."

GW Athletic Hall of Fame inductees, family members, and university leadership gathered at a ceremony this spring. (Left to right) Jack Tarr (brother of Jim Tarr), Jack Kvancz, Ingrid Wicker-McCree, Tina Brown, Mike Bassett, Athletics Director Patrick Nero, Barbara Monroe, Shawnta Rogers, Joe McKeown, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Russ Ramsey, and Charles Monroe (father of Chris Monroe).

Newest Athletic Hall of Fame Class Inducted

The George Washington University Department of Athletics and Recreation inducted its 49th class of the GW Athletic Hall of Fame this spring. The inductees are: Mike Bassett, BBA '02, (baseball); Tina Brown, BA '90, (women's rowing); Jack Kvancz (athletic director); Ingrid Wicker-McCree, BA '89, (volleyball); Joe McKeown (women's basketball coach), Chris Monroe, BA '03, (men's basketball); Shawnta Rogers, BA '11, (men's basketball); and the late Jim Tarr, BA '60, (men's tennis). The inductees' names are permanently inscribed in the David and Abbie Friedman Family Foundation George Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame located on the mezzanine level of Charles E. Smith Center.

GW Athletic Communications

Olympic Dunk

Former Colonials basketball star Pops Mensah-Bonsu, BA '06, is heading to the Olympics this summer to play with the Great Britain national basketball team. Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, who was born in London, helped lead the Colonials to two NCAA tournament appearances in 2005 and 2006. After GW, he played with NBA's Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets, and he now plays in the Turkish Basketball League.


Notes On Scandal

GW alumna and board member leads hit show on ABC.

ABC's "Scandal" stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

ABC's new show Scandal has all the makings of a hit: mystery, romance, controversy—and a GW alumna for a star.

Board of Trustees member Kerry Washington, BA '98, plays Olivia Pope, a District lawyer-turned-crisis communications consultant who helps her high-profile clients navigate some pretty juicy problems—and stay out of the local newspapers.

Ms. Washington, who recently adopted Savoy Elementary School in Anacostia under President Obama's Turnaround Arts Initiative, spoke with GW about her new show and the chances of GW being featured on an episode.

Q: Your character is based on Judy Smith, a local crisis consultant who helped clients such as Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick. Were you familiar with her before you were cast?

A: No, I had never heard of Judy and didn't really know anything about "crisis management" (which incidentally used to be the title of the show). Before doing press for Scandal—and also for her recently released book, Good Self, Bad Self, which I highly recommend—it was virtually impossible to find information about or pictures of Judy anywhere! It did not take me long to realize that her ability to maintain a low profile was part of what allows her to solve problems so covertly.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration for playing Olivia Pope? Do you identify with her?

A: I draw inspiration for Olivia mostly from the exquisite writing. From the very first episode her depth and complexity were right there on the page. I am forever indebted to [Grey's Anatomy creator] Shonda Rhimes for writing this beautifully complicated character and then entrusting me with the responsibility to play her.

Q: Olivia and her team have covered a lot of local ground so far. Do you have any favorite D.C. spots you hope get mentioned on the show?

A: Great question. It'd be fun to shoot at a Colonials basketball game in the Smith Center. Or at Thurston where I was a resident assistant during my junior year. Also, Lisner is such an institution.

Q: How do you feel about all the positive press about the show?

A: I try not to read reviews, but I am thrilled that people are enjoying the show—especially D.C. insiders. I was recently at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner and was delighted to get such enthusiastic positive feedback from inside the Beltway.

Q: Any chance GW will be featured on the show soon?

A: I'll see what I can do! Ha! We shoot the show entirely in Los Angeles, but it would be fun to get a GW mention in there.

This Q&A was originally published in GW Today. For more GW news and exclusives, visit

Incoming and outgoing chairs of the GW Black Alumni Association James Walker, BA '07 (left), and Beverly Bogerty, MTA '99 (right), with retired Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, BA '67, MS '73, the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and first African-American Marine Corps general.

Black Alumni Gather at African American Civil War Museum for Reunion

The GW Black Alumni Association hosted the fifth annual Black alumni reunion on April 21 with a two-part event. In the morning, GWBAA members and GW Culture Buffs met at the African American Civil War Museum for a private reception and discussion with retired Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, BA '67, MS '73, the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general. Petersen talked with Professor Jennifer James, director of Africana Studies, about the effects of war on the African-American experience. Later that evening, GWBAA members enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Washington.

From The GWAA President

Jim Core, MA '96

Dear Fellow Colonials,

Like many of you, my George Washington University student experience started with graduate school rather than freshman orientation.

Fifty-two percent of GW alumni have one graduate or professional degree from the university. Thirty-five percent of our alums earned one undergraduate degree, 8 percent have two or more GW degrees, and 5 percent earned a certificate at GW.

This fall, several dedicated GW Alumni Association volunteers—led by GWAA board members Josh Hiscock, BA '03, and Christine Magee, EdD '09—worked with the staff at Alumni House to compile a report on the programming for and participation by graduate and professional degree holders. This assessment allows us to create a baseline for future advances in meaningful engagement with this specific alumni population.

Our results indicated nearly half of those who attended an event hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, held a graduate or professional degree. Furthermore, two-thirds of participants in the Alumni Course Audit program hold a graduate or professional degree.

However, we found that graduate and professional degree recipients are slightly less likely to be involved in the Career Advisor Network or to be volunteers than their undergraduate counterparts. These are both areas where we can develop as an Alumni Association—as I have noted in previous columns—but overall I was pleased to see that there is not a significant gap in participation between alumni with graduate/professional degrees and those with undergraduate degrees.

As a follow-up to this research we met with GW's Center for Student Engagement (CSE) in February to explore how we could further connect alumni with current graduate and professional students. Providing more opportunities for students—at all levels of study—to connect with GW graduates is a priority for your alumni association.

We identified several areas for collaboration with the CSE, including: highlighting alumni engagement opportunities as we welcome all new students to the GW community; surveying graduate and professional students and alumni of graduate and professional programs to better understand their interests; and inviting graduate and professional students to alumni programming that fits their life stage and personal interests (such as family-oriented activities and networking events).

Ultimately, to ensure we continue to serve your interests, we need to hear from you. If you are a graduate or professional degree holder and have ideas about programs or benefits that your alumni association should explore, please email me at

Thank you for helping to enhance the GW community.


Jim Core, MA '96
President, GW Alumni Association, 2011-13

Alumni Outstanding Service Awards

During the 51st annual Alumni Outstanding Service Awards in May, the GW Alumni Association honored five graduates who are working to advance the mission of the university through their volunteer efforts. The 2012 honorees are (left to right): John Holmblad, MS '80, CERT '02; Jeremy Gosbee, BA '98, MBA '02; Christopher Barley, MD '93; Christine Coleman, BA '91; and Edward "Skip" Gnehm, BA '66, MA '68. Gnehm, an Elliott School professor, was the recipient of the Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award, which commemorates Jane Lingo, BA '46, an alumna, staff member, and friend who was a lifelong participant in the GW family.

GW Holds Third Global Forum in Seoul

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shared his optimism about a better world emerging from increased innovation.

Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine Chris Anderson, BA '81, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, MBA '71, discussed growth and innovation at the third annual GW Global Forum in Seoul, South Korea.

More than 300 people attended the two-day event in March, which featured keynote addresses from Mr. Anderson and Gen. Powell. Other highlights of the forum were a video message from Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-Bak, former visiting scholar at GW and honorary degree recipient, and remarks from Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation in the Office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chang Dae Whan, MA '76, chairman and publisher of Maekyung Media Group (Maeil), and three panels about emerging global issues featuring university faculty, alumni, and other experts.

During his keynote, Mr. Anderson shared his vision of a third industrial revolution fueled by desktop prototyping and new manufacturing models.

"We have the capacity to be manufacturers," he said. "This is a big deal. It's a combination of desktop prototyping and global access to manufacturing for anybody of any scale. It allows us to replicate the web model with physical goods."

Gen. Powell shared his optimism for the future and the importance of advancing technology and education.

"People are moving to a different dynamic that will make the world a better place through innovation and change. The most important part of that is economic growth and wealth creation—wealth creation that brings all people up, wealth creation that creates jobs."

"I see a world of promises," he said. "I see a world that we can shape in a better way. I see a world where we can educate youngsters. I see a world where we can teach children to believe, believe in themselves, believe in their country, believe in their society. But the one thing girding all of this is the education of our children."

Past GW Global Forums took place in Hong Kong in 2009 and in New York City in 2010.

View photos and video from the event at

Editor in Chief of
Wired Magazine Chris Anderson discussed a third industrial revolution during his Global Forum keynote address.

More than 300 people attended the Global Forum, which featured experts in issues related to global growth and innovation.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens Jim Rees, MS '78, received the GW President's Medal.

William Atkins

Honoring the Head of Washington's Estate

On a night when he was feted with an eruption of fireworks over the Potomac River, the man in charge of George Washington's historic home also received one of his alma mater's highest awards, the GW President's Medal. The celebration in May in honor of Jim Rees, MS '78, came as he prepared to step down, due to health issues, as the president and chief executive officer of Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens, in Virginia.

The citation on the award recognizes Mr. Rees' 29 years of service, in which he "channeled George Washington himself as an innovative, tenacious, and bold leader."

For more on Mr. Rees' impact, the event, and a pair of sheep named George and Martha, read the full story at

Giving Power

(Left to right) GW President Steven Knapp, Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder and CEO Nancy Brinker, and Kathy Megyeri, MA '69, MA '82. Each forum participant received a copy of Ms. Brinker's memoirs, thanks to a gift from Ms. Megyeri.

More than 150 alumni and friends gathered at D.C.'s Mandarin Oriental Hotel in May for the fourth annual Women and Philanthropy Forum.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder and CEO Nancy Brinker, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003, delivered a keynote speech highlighting how women can drive change and success in philanthropy.

"I hope, because of our talent, our work, and our leadership, we are no longer a small group," Ms. Brinker said. "And together we are changing the world."

Guests also heard remarks from Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the Washington Area Women's Foundation, and Sherri Rose, BS '05, winner of the GW Alumni Association's 2011 Recent Alumni Achievement Award, about the need for the next generation of women to become involved in philanthropic advisory work.

The program included a panel discussion with prominent female philanthropic leaders, including Cynthia Steele Vance, BA '79, a broadcast journalist and member of GW's board of trustees; Madeleine Jacobs, BS '68, executive director of the American Chemical Society; and Mahsa Pelosky, member of the boards of directors of several New York foundations. 

Alumni on the Hill

(Left to right) GW President Steven Knapp and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recognize retiring U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in May during GW's Capitol Hill Alumni Reception.

William Atkins

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., JD '64, and GW honored retiring U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., MBA '75, for his 26 years in the Senate at the GW Annual Capitol Hill Alumni Reception in May.

Calling Sen. Conrad "very calculating in what he wants to accomplish," Sen. Reid praised his colleague's work addressing the country's deficit.

"I told Kent Conrad several years ago that I joined his church," Sen. Reid said. "That's the church of doing something about the deficit."

Sen. Conrad reminisced on his time at GW, reflecting on how he transferred to the business school mid-year after realizing a law degree wasn't for him.

"In class after class, the professors were engaged, the students were engaged," he said. "And I really enjoyed my time there."

Thirteen members of Congress, including Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who was at the event, are GW alumni, and many more serve as Hill staffers.

"We have this strong dedication to public service, which is reflected in what so many of you in this room have chosen to do with your career," President Steven Knapp told the alumni.