October 28th, 2010
Photograph by Zain Shah.
Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Dana Tai Soon Burgess opened his new performance Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love last Friday to much anticipation thanks to a feature story in The Washington Post. In this autobiographical piece, Dana’s choreography reveals a glimpse into his childhood in Santa Fe, where he grew up watching and admiring Charlie Chan on television. The fluid movements of his dancers were exquisite and brought to life this profound coming-of-age story. Dana’s play received rave reviews this week by The Post’s Sarah Kaufman, who concluded that “with this work, [Dana Tai Soon Burgess] deserved to be crowned poet laureate of Washington dance.”
October 25th, 2010
“One of the themes in Oleanna is the relationship between power and language and therefore between fact and language: Those in power control the language and, therefore, control its meaning, its effect and its relationship to the truth.”
—Theatre Professor Alan Wade
Recently, GW’s Main Stage opened its season with David Mamet’s Oleanna, produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance and directed by Theatre Professor Alan Wade. The production featured four nights of performances: one by the Alpha cast, one by the Omega cast, and, in an interesting experiment, two shows were performed by a combination of players from each of the two casts. The experiment was fascinating to watch as the actors did not rehearse together prior to the performance. In front of our eyes, they created their own staging as their lines unfolded. I was very impressed with the student actors’ abilities to adapt in the moment to their scene partners.
Keep an eye out for Main Stage’s upcoming performances. Don’t miss William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, premiering Halloween weekend!
October 22nd, 2010
Last weekend, the campus was bursting with students and their parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends. Colonials Weekend is a time for families to visit, spend some time with their Colonial, and learn more about GW. This year’s festivities included live music and performances, pumpkin carving at the annual Octoberfest on the Mount Vernon Campus, and two performances by comedian Jimmy Fallon.
At the Parent’s Association Advisory Council meeting, I chatted with parents about our academics and the improvements we’ve made to our advising system. They were pleased to hear that we’ve doubled the number of professional advisors now available to undergraduates. On Saturday morning, nearly 500 parents and students stopped by the Dean’s Breakfast to socialize with members of our faculty and administration. I spoke to them about the special academic opportunities we offer our students, such as the Dean’s Seminars for freshmen.
It was an all-around great weekend, and I appreciate the efforts families made to join us and their students on campus for the festivities.
October 18th, 2010
Ellen Zane (left) and Vanessa Maltin (right)
The Thursday prior to Alumni Weekend, the George Washington Alumni Association recognized its distinguished alumni through the annual Alumni Achievement Awards.
I presented a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award to Ellen Zane, BA’73. Ellen Zane is the president and chief executive officer of Tufts Medical Center and the Floating Hospital for Children. Ellen is the first woman to run the hospital in its 214-year history. Ellen is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Care Research at Tufts University School of Medicine. Ellen has served on Columbian College’s National Advisory Council for Arts and Sciences, and she was the keynote speaker last spring at GW’s Woman and Philanthropy Forum. She now serves on the Science and Engineering Complex Taskforce for GW and has recently joined the GW Board of Trustees.
We also gave the Recent Alumni Achievement Award to Vanessa Maltin, BA ’05. She has been featured as a gluten-free food expert on CNN, CNBC, Discovery Green, ABC News, and in The Washington Post. Vanessa serves as the food and lifestyle editor of Delight Magazine, sits on the Advisory Board of the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s National Medical Center, and maintains a website, Celiac Princess, that’s full of useful information and gluten-free recipes. Maltin also recently published her second book, The Gloriously Gluten-free Cookbook.
October 15th, 2010
About 2,500 alumni and friends returned to GW for Alumni Weekend in early October. My favorite part of the festivities was the All Alumni Kick-off Party on Friday night, where I had a chance to talk to a variety of alumni, particularly those who were returning for one of the designated reunion years.
On Saturday morning, several of my dean colleagues from across the University joined in a breakfast in the ballroom with Provost Steven Lerman. I enjoyed meeting alumni and it was a treat to meet their children and families.
Another highlight of the weekend was the panel presentation, “GW Takes on Autism: Creating and Changing How We Diagnose and Treat Autism”. The disorder, which impairs language and social communication, affects approximately one out of every 110 children in the United States. On this panel, we heard from Kathleen Burgess, the Autism Clinical Supervisor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences; Professor Lori Alderman, from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development who has served for thirty years as the coordinator for autism services in the Arlington Public Schools; and Valerie Hu from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Hu works to identify subtypes of autism and looks for genetic/biological markers that are associated with these subtypes. Her integrated approach to the research incorporates genomic, genetic, and epigenetic studies together with environmental factors. Dr. Hu’s preliminary findings are provocative and may lead us to new understanding of autism.
I hope that you all enjoyed the Alumni Weekend festivities. I invite you to share your favorite moments of the weekends in the comments.
For more pictures, visit GW Alumni on Flickr.
October 7th, 2010
First of all, I’ve been meaning to share with you a photo from my 10-day whirlwind trip to Iceland. My son and I saw incredible vistas as we hiked our way from Landmannalaugar to Pórsmörk, ending near last year’s active volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. As you can see, we took “George” along with us to share in the exhilarating experience. I won’t soon forget our journey to this beautiful country.
I came back to campus in August recharged and ready to welcome our impressive group of new and returning students. In addition to student/faculty orientation activities, my days have been filled reviewing the annual reports of faculty with our 40+ department chairs and program directors. As you can tell from the photo, there were literally stacks of reports to process but, luckily, I had plenty of help!
I must say, as I reviewed the significant accomplishments of the 2009-’10 academic year, I was struck by the ever-increasing numbers of scholarly publications and creative endeavors by our faculty and students. Here at Columbian College, we continue to find imaginative ways to engage our students and partner them with prestigious institutions around the nation’s capital—venues such as the Holocaust Museum, the Sackler Art Gallery, and the National Geographic Museum of Crime and Punishment. We also continue to make our presence felt beyond our campus and region through published research in scholarly journals, including Science and Nature, and many of our faculty members serve on editorial and advisory boards at some of the top research institutions in the country.
Onward and upward!
October 7th, 2010
I recently had the opportunity to join Department of Statistics faculty, alumni, and friends for a day-long symposium and reception to celebrate the department’s 75th anniversary. One of the high points for me was meeting former students, now leaders in their field. Their names read like a who’s who from a national and international perspective, and their considerable talents were palpable in this celebratory context.
The symposium consisted of several sessions led by panelists discussing theoretical and applied statistical research.
Following the symposium, attendees gathered at GW’s Alumni House to reconnect with former professors and fellow alumni, meet and interact with the department’s current students, and network with colleagues within the field of statistics. Alumni indicated that the guidance and mentorship they received from the statistics faculty, coupled with their “great” education, helped them succeed in their professions. Congratulations to all!