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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                          CONTACT: Tracy Schario
April 5, 2006                                                           (202) 994-3566


WASHINGTON - Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who today holds the longest tenure as President of a Washington, D.C., university, has announced that he will become a University Professor when his current contract ends in the summer of 2007. Trachtenberg, who will be 69 when he leaves office, was called to GW as the University’s leader in 1988. In addition, Charles T. Manatt, chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, has asked Trachtenberg to take on the role of President Emeritus, continuing to provide his expertise to the University in the years to come.

“After almost two decades at the helm, it is time for me to contribute to this great University in a different way and to work toward some personal goals that are impossible to achieve with the 24/7 demands of the presidency,” said Trachtenberg. “Serving as head of this special University has had my undivided attention for nearly 20 years. I’m now exchanging my first love for my second; it’s the American thing to do. I want to test the hypothesis that those who can do - can also teach.”

Trachtenberg will become a University Professor of Public Service, redirecting his professional focus to his academic field of expertise.

“I hope to develop new ways of thinking about higher education. I expect to study where American universities are headed in the 21st century and examine everything from a three-year B.A. and a year-round curriculum, to liberal arts degree requirements,” he noted. “This is not the type of scholarship that can be undertaken while trying to actively lead a major university. I expect to write a book on the subject. Maybe two. With the restoration of my First Amendment Rights, I plan to create some conversation and have some fun.”

Board Chairman Manatt said, “Steve has not only firmly established the University as a premier institution of higher education, he has strategically charted the University’s course for the future. We are extremely indebted to Steve for all that he has accomplished, and we are also very fortunate to have him remain here as a vital part of both George Washington University life and as a continuing contributor to the greater Washington, D.C., community.”

Among the key highlights of Trachtenberg’s tenure as President, Manatt cited:

  • Entering students’ SAT scores are up nearly 200 points
  • Applications for undergraduate admission have risen from 6,000 to more than 20,000 per year
  • Endowment has risen from $200 million to nearly $1 billion
  • Created five new schools: Public Health and Health Services, Public Policy and Public Administration, College of Professional Studies, Graduate School of Political Management, and Media and Public Affairs
  • Developed relationships with thousands of students and alumni, including every Student Association president over the past 18 years; and maintains those contacts to this day
  • Quality of faculty has been dramatically enriched
  • Initiated University Honors Program
  • Upgraded GW's library system, which now contains more than two million books and is a member of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries
  • Elevated GW’s NCAA Division One athletic program, including record-setting years for men’s and women’s basketball teams
  • Strengthened University relations with District of Columbia civic leadership
  • Established Northern Virginia and Mount Vernon campuses
  • Upgraded and developed University academic, residential, and recreational facilities
  • Enhanced the University’s position and positive reputation as Washington, D.C.’s center of scholarship

Trachtenberg added, “When people talk to me about changes they’ve witnessed over the years in The George Washington University, the adjective they use most often is ‘reinvented.’ That description may be my proudest achievement, and I look forward to viewing all of those changes from a different perspective. Without support from the greater George Washington University community, this level of success would not have been possible.”

The Board of Trustees will be acknowledging Trachtenberg’s transition at its May 19 meeting. The University will begin its search for a new president in the coming months.

Located four blocks from the White House, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the nation’s capital. The University offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 120 countries.

To read President Trachtenberg’s letter to the GW community
visit the GW News Center at

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