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An Update from the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences

May 2013


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Alumni Events

GW LinkedIn Group Virtual Networking Hour
May 16, Noon

Alumni Emeriti Society Commencement & Lunch
May 21, 6:300 pm
Alumni House

Make a Lasting Impact in Your Community
Thursday, May 23, Noon

Trachtenberg School Alumni Picnic
Friday, June 7, 6:00 pm
Washington, DC

GW Culture Buffs: Atlanta and the Civil War
Saturday, June 15, 11:00 am
Atlanta, GA

Other Events

Comparative Politics Workshop: Cathy Schneider
May, 10 12:30 pm
Sigelman Seminar Room, Hall of Government 428

Master's and Doctoral Program Graduation Celebration
May 17, 8:30 am
Charles E. Smith Center

Undergraduate Students Graduation Celebration
May 18, Noon and 3:30 pm
Charles E. Smith Center

MA in Organizational Sciences: Information Session
May 21, Noon and 7:00 pm
Phillips Hall, Room 411

Melville and Whitman in Washington: The Civil War Years and After
June 4, 8:30 am
Marvin Center

Department News



East Asian Languages and Literature



Fine Art and Art History

Forensic Sciences



Judaic Studies


Media and Public Affairs

Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Museum Studies




Political Science


Romance German and Slavic Languages and Literature

Science and Engineering Hall

The Solar Institute

Speech and Hearing Sciences


Theatre and Dance

University Writing Program

Womens Studies

New MA in Islam Bridges Gaps in Knowledge, Understanding
Something rather special, even symbolic, happened at GW this year when Religion Department faculty members Robert Eisen, who is Jewish, and Mohammad Faghfoory, a Muslim scholar from Iran—both devout to their respective faiths—collaborated together to create a new master’s degree program in Islam. It was an idea that grew out of their friendship and mutual interest in Islam and in interfaith dialogue to promote peace and knowledge.

“It shows what can happen when a Jew and a Muslim get together and talk to each other!” said Eisen, chair of the department. “Personal relationships can overcome divisions of many types.” Read more.

Celebrating National Council’s 20 Years
Chair Pam Lawrence Reflects on Giving Back to Alma Mater

Columbian College’s National Council for Arts and Sciences celebrated its 20th anniversary last month at a dinner and reception held at the United States Institute of Peace. Comprised of alumni, parents, and friends of the college, the council was applauded by President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman for its commitment and service as a volunteer advisory board to the dean of the college. Pam Lawrence, BA ’76, chair of the National Council and senior vice president of North Shore Medical Center in Massachusetts, recently offered her thoughts on service, philanthropy, and the need to remain engaged in the life of the university. Read more.

$2.5 Million Bequest Helps Bolster New Arts Initiative
A $2.5 million bequest intention to support theater and the arts from alumnus Marc Albert, BA ’70, JD ’73, has further bolstered a renewed focus to establish GW as the venue for cultural education, research, and performance. The gift will establish three endowed funds in the Columbian College, and includes the donation of a collection of artwork.

The Arts Initiative is a multi-year effort that encompasses the launch of Incubator Studio Fellowships and Visiting Artists and Scholars Residency programs, partnerships with the Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian, and Arena Stage, and creation of the new George Washington University Museum. Read more.

Fellowship Partners National Park Service and GW
A new graduate certificate program has been created within Columbian College to strengthen knowledge about the natural and cultural resources that form the heart of the National Park Service (NPS) mission. The Certificate in Contexts of Environmental Policy, to be offered this fall, is designed for emerging leaders at NPS involved in the preservation and protection of public lands and cultural heritage. The certificate’s creation is inspired by a gift from Roger and Frances Kennedy and made possible by the Friends of Roger Kennedy to establish a fellowship named for the former NPS director and part-time professor of American Studies from 1998 to 2003. The Roger Kennedy National Parks Fellowship will provide tuition support for NPS employees participating in the certificate program. Read more.

Clean Energy Leader Amit Ronen to Direct Solar Institute
Amit Ronen, the deputy chief of staff for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), has been named the new director of the GW Solar Institute, the University announced at its 5th Annual Solar Symposium held April 23. The Solar Institute, which was founded in 2008, is a component of Columbian College.

“We are pleased to welcome Amit to the GW community and look forward to continuing to explore new opportunities to meet global energy needs and environmental challenges,” said Dean Peg Barratt. “He brings to the Solar Institute a wide-ranging knowledge of government and extensive experience in energy and environmental policy strategy.” Read more.

New Species of Dinosaur Discovered by GW Biologists
Fossil remains of Aorun zhaoi discovered by James Clark, Ronald B. Weintraub Associate Professor of Biology, have recently been identified as a new species of small theropod, or meat-eating dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Clark and his then doctoral student Jonah Choiniere unearthed the dinosaur specimen—the skull, mandible and partial skeleton of the dinosaur—in a remote region of Xinjiang in China. Their discovery was recently published in The Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. Read more.

Biology/Philosophy Undergrad Wins Goldwater Scholarship
For her research achievements and overall academic success, Aparna Sajja, a junior in GW's seven-year BA/MD program, is one of only 272 undergraduates nationwide to be awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. The honor recognized Sajja's work as a research intern at the National Institutes of Health's Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a laboratory focused on stem cells and neurovascular Biology, where she studied a mechanism in mouse embryos that signals how the animal's blood vessels will develop and differentiate. Read more.

Columbian College Senior to Address Commencement
Senior Classical Studies Major Alexander Zafran was selected as the 2013 student Commencement speaker by a panel of staff, faculty and student judges. He will join GW alumni Commencement speaker Kerry Washington, BA ’98, and honorary degree recipients Thad Allen, MPA ’86, and Harriet M. Fulbright, MFA ’75, for the ceremony on May 19 on the National Mall. Read more.

Columbian College Alumni, Faculty, Students Recognized
The GW Alumni Association annually recognizes a select group of alumni for their remarkable commitment to the university. Among those receiving this year’s Alumni Outstanding Service Award were Columbian College alumni Richard Popiel, BA ’75, MD ’81, and Kathy Megyeri, M.A. ’69, ’82. In addition, the 2013 Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award was awarded to Lilien F. Robinson, AA ’60, BA ’62, MA ’65.

During the recent faculty honors ceremony, the celebrated Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prize was presented to Chemistry professors Stuart Licht for scholarship, and Christopher Cahill for teaching excellence. The Morton Bender Teaching Awards were presented to Mary Buckley, associate professor of theatre and dance and Elise Friedland, assistant professor of classics; and the Writing in the Disciplines Distinguished Teaching Award was given to Jonathan Hsy, assistant professor of English.

And two seniors from Columbian College were named distinguished scholars at the Academic Honors dinner last month. They were Adam Bethke, a double major in criminal justice and political science, and Paul Seltzer, a women’s studies major who will graduate Phi Beta Kappa. Read more.

In Memoriam: James H. Hansell
We note with regret the passing of James H. Hansell, professor and deputy director of professional psychology and director of clinical training. Certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association in Psychoanalysis, he authored a text on abnormal psychology, among other writings. "James Hansell brought a keen appreciation of the richness and complexity of the human mind to his research and clinical work and was unfailingly supportive of our graduate students,” noted Loring Ingraham, director of the Professional Psychology Program.

New Books
Occupational Labor Shortages: Concepts, Causes, Consequences, and Cures co-authoredby Burt S. Barnow, Amsterdam Professor of Public Service (W.E. Upjohn Institute)

Citizenship and the Origins of Women's History in the United States, by Teresa Anne Murphy, associate professor of American studies (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Forensic DNA Methods and Applications co-authored by Moses Schanfield, (CRC Press)

Awards and Recognition

Tyler Anbinder, professor of history, testified before Congress as a briefing on “Historical Perspectives on Congress and Immigration Policy.”

Junior interior design student Jasmine Callender designed a dining room at Woodlawn (formerly a part of George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate), which won second place in the All American House contest.

The plays of Allyson Currin and Renee Calarco, both faculty members in the Department of Theatre and Dance, will be performed at The Writers Center in Bethesda through May 19th.

The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, volumes 18-20, produced by GW’s First Federal Congress Project, has been selected to receive the Society for History in the Federal Government’s Thomas Jefferson Prize for excellence in a documentary edition. This marks the third time the multi-volume series has received the award.

English graduate student D. Gilson won the Larry Neal Writers' Award in poetry from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Chad Heap, associate professor of American Studies, received a fellowship grant from the National Humanities Center to pursue research on his project, “A History of the Sociological Study of Homosexuality in the United States”.

Alex Huang, director of the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare Program, recently addressed the U.S. Congress to advocate for the humanities and globalization studies.

Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs Jason Osder's new documentary film Let the Fire Burn debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and earned a Best Editing in a Documentary Feature and a Special Jury Mention.

Elaine Pena, assistant professor of American Studies, has received a National Endowment for the Humanities stipend to conduct research this summer for her project, “American Ethos: Reveling in Patriotism on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” which examines the tradition of commemorating George Washington’s Birthday on the Texas-Tamaulipas border.

Political Science doctoral candidates Allison Quatrini, Scott Weiner, and Jackson Woods received the National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Fellowship.

James Sham, assistant professor of sculpture, has received a prestigious grant for $20,000 from the Canadian Council for the Arts to fund the next series in his Goldfish Extraction project.

Julia Sittmann, a history doctoral candidate, was one of 17 (out of 442) applicants to receive a prestigious CLIR-Mellon Fellowship, which will fund a year of her dissertation research on encounters between Iraqi university students and the Ba'thist regime.

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