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April 28, 2006 

CONTACT: Tracy Schario
(202) 994-3566;


Trachtenberg Joins Accomplished Alumni Featured On School's "Wall of Distinction"

WASHINGTON - Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president of The George Washington University, will be honored as a distinguished alumnus of the James Madison High School, Brooklyn, N.Y., during a ceremony at the school on April 30, 2006. A 1955 graduate of the high school, Trachtenberg was student government president (1954-1955) and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Madison Highway, so named because of the school's proximity to King's Highway.

The James Madison High School Alumni Association created the honor in 2001 to recognize graduates who have made a difference in society. This year, the association will induct 10 new honorees, including President Trachtenberg, who is being recognized for his nearly 30 years as a college president; Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker; the late Bill Gaines, Mad Magazine founder and publisher; Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.); and microbiologist John Robbins. Each honoree receives a plaque featuring a photo and biography, which is displayed on the school's "Wall of Distinction" at the main entrance.

"My teachers and classmates played an important role in my professional development, interest in public service, and commitment to academic excellence," said Trachtenberg. "I'm honored to be among the noted alumni of James Madison High School and to join such an illustrious group."

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Trachtenberg graduated from P.S. 254 and James Madison High School. He earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1959, the Juris Doctor from Yale University in 1962, and the Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University in 1966. In 1968 he was selected as a Winston Churchill Traveling Fellow for study in Oxford, England. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Trachtenberg and his wife, Francine Zorn Trachtenberg, have two sons: Adam and Ben.

"Steve was a member of the class of 1955, and he showed how special he was early on," said Dick Kossoff '53, coordinator of the Wall of Distinction event.  "He earned the respect and recognition of his classmates and had the unique distinction of serving both as class president and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  Steve joins an illustrious company of graduates who have been honored since the Wall was inaugurated by the Alumni Association in 2001.  Our honorees include two sitting members of the United States Senate, a Justice of the Supreme Court, four Nobel laureates, and many noted musicians, writers and athletes."

Trachtenberg became the 15th president of The George Washington University on August 1, 1988. He came to GW from the University of Hartford (Conn.), where he had been president for 11 years. Before assuming the presidency of Hartford, Trachtenberg served for eight years at Boston University as vice president for academic services and academic dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Earlier, in Washington, D.C., he was a special assistant for two years to the U.S. Education Commissioner, Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He has been an attorney with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and a legislative aide to former Indiana Congressman John Brademas.

A professor of public administration, he published Reflections on Higher Education (2002-Oryx Press), Thinking Out Loud (1998-Oryx Press), and Speaking His Mind (1994-Oryx Press). He is co-editor of the book The Art of Hiring in America's Colleges & Universities (Prometheus Books, 1993). Trachtenberg also has served as a consulting editor to The Journal of Education and The Presidency.

Trachtenberg most recently chaired the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA). He is a past chairman of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic 10 Conference Presidents Council, and continues to be a member of both. He serves on the boards of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the D.C. Federal City Council. He also serves on the boards of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Panel and the International Association of University Presidents. President Trachtenberg has chaired the Rhodes Scholarships Selection Committee for Maryland and the District of Columbia. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Directors of the Chiang Chen Industrial Charity Foundation in Hong Kong, and a trustee of Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco.

In 2005, the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce honored President Trachtenberg with the D.C. Business Leader of the Year Award. In 2003 the Albert B. Sabin Institute presented him with its Humanitarian Award. Other awards include the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award, B'nai B'rith Humanitarian Award, Jay Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement by Columbia University, American Jewish Congress' Spirit of Democracy Award, Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, among others. He has received honorary degrees from Boston University, University of New Haven (Conn.), Odessa State Medical University, Gratz College, Southern Connecticut State University, Trinity College, Richmond College (London), and Kyonggi University (South Korea). This May, he will receive honorary degrees from Lyon College and Touro College. He was named a "Washingtonian of the Year 2000" by the Washingtonian Magazine.

By Proclamation of the City and County of San Francisco, Feb. 2, 1999, was proclaimed "Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Day in San Francisco!" By Resolution of the Council of the District of Columbia, Jan. 22, 1998, was declared "Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Day" in honor of his commitments to minority students, scholarship programs, public school partnerships and community service.

James Madison High School is a New York State Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  The mission of James Madison High School is to provide an instructional program that addresses students' individual needs and interests and holds them accountable to high standards.  It will do so by providing students with academic and enrichment opportunities as well as windows of access to all content areas through a balanced literacy approach and an emphasis on numeracy. James Madison counts among its alumni four Nobel Prize winners; leaders in government and politics, most notably Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and sitting U.S. Senators Charles D. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.); as well as prominent academics, researchers, journalists, doctors, celebrities, athletes, authors, and business leaders, including Stanley Kaplan, the developer of the eponymous SAT preparation company.

For more information, about James Madison High School, please visit For more information about James Madison High School Alumni Association, please visit

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