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Jargon is part of the fun of belonging to the GW community.  Students, faculty, staff, neighbors and even parents, both new and seasoned, bandy about words and phrases strongly identified with our University.

Vice Presidents

Vice presidents at the George Washington University collectively oversee university's vast infrastructure, providing senior leadership and strategic vision across all aspects of GW life. Vice presidents are appointed by and report directly to the president.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman

Steven Lerman, the provost of the George Washington University, is the chief academic officer for the 10 colleges and schools. The deans of the colleges and schools report to the provost. In addition, Dr. Lerman oversees all programs and offices associated with student life and learning and serves as second-in-command of the university. Dr. Lerman works in multiple ways to enhance academic excellence at GW, focusing on teaching, research and developing and maintaining state-of-the art classroom and laboratory space.

Dr. Lerman joined the George Washington University from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he served as vice chancellor and dean for graduate education. He brings to GW more than 35 years experience as a leader and scholar.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis H. Katz

Louis H. Katz

Louis H. Katz is the university's chief financial officer. He carries primary responsibility for the management of GW's financial, physical and information systems resources. He oversees strategic, operating and capital planning and budgeting. And he advises the president and the board of trustees on financial and strategic matters affecting the development and operations of the university.

Katz joined GW in 1990 as vice president and treasurer. He was promoted to executive vice president and treasurer in 2003. A long-time manager of academic institutions with medical centers, he previously spent eight years as vice president for administration and treasurer at Tulane University.

Senior Vice President and General Counsel Beth Nolan

Beth Nolan

Beth Nolan is the chief legal officer for the university. She directs all legal services for GW, providing legal counsel, preventive legal guidance and related services in support of the university's teaching and research mission.

Nolan joined GW as senior vice president and general counsel in December 2007. A former GW law professor, she returned to the university after serving as a partner in Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington, D.C. From 1999 to 2001, she was counsel to President Bill Clinton, making her the first woman to serve as counsel to the president of the United States.


Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles

Lorraine Voles

Lorraine Voles, BA '81, joined GW in February 2009 as vice president for external relations, a new position that brings communications and government relations into one division. Voles guides GW's government and community relations efforts and communicates the university's goals and accomplishments to a wide variety of constituents, both inside and outside GW.

A professional in the corporate and political communications fields, Voles most recently served as senior vice president of communications and marketing services for Fannie Mae. Prior to that, she was deputy press secretary for former President Bill Clinton, director of communications and chief spokeswoman for former Vice President Al Gore, director of communications for former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and press secretary for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.

Vice President for Research Leo M. Chalupa

Leo M. Chalupa

Leo M. Chalupa became the university's first vice president of research on April 1, 2009. He serves as GW's chief research officer, charged with overseeing the strategic and operational development of our rapidly growing research enterprise.

An accomplished scientist and administrator, Dr. Chalupa comes to GW following a 34-year career at the University of California, Davis, most recently serving as the chair of neurobiology, physiology and behavior in the College of Biological Sciences. A distinguished professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at UC Davis, he founded the university's Center for Neuroscience in 1992, as well as the Mind and Brain Center, the Brain Imaging Center and the Center for Visual Sciences.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide J. Collins Jr

Aristide Collins Jr.

Aristide J. Collins Jr. is vice president for Development and Alumni Relations at the George Washington University. Collins is charged with overseeing the university’s comprehensive philanthropic campaign and also has a faculty appointment as a lecturer in Higher Education Administration.

Formerly, Mr. Collins served as vice president and secretary of GW; vice president for institutional advancement and university relations at Clark Atlanta University; vice president for advancement and a faculty member at Pacific Oaks College and Children's School in Pasadena, California; director of development for university projects at the George Washington University. He also held leadership positions over ten years at California State University at Long Beach. Mr. Collins is designated a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving by the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies. He holds a master's degree in public administration from California State University, Long Beach, and a bachelor's degree in political science and Special Certificate in Educational Management from California State University, Hayward. He has completed post-graduate studies in organizational leadership at Pepperdine University.

Vice President for Human Resources Sabrina Ellis

Sabrina Ellis

Sabrina Ellis serves as vice president for human resources. Ms. Ellis plays an important operational, management, and strategic role, ensuring that the human resources (HR) function and its activities are professional and responsive. She leads and manages the central HR organization and provides professional guidance and direction to the HR professionals within GWs divisions.

Ms. Ellis brings to the position extensive experience in all aspects of human resources management, including managing human resources needs for academic institutions. Ms. Ellis joined the George Washington University from the City College of New York, CUNY, where she served as assistant vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer. Previously, she served as a human resources director at New York University and as a human resources analyst at Abbott Laboratories located in North Chicago, Ill.

Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Jeffrey Akman

Jeffrey Akman

Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, was appointed the Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) in 2013. In his capacity as vice president for health affairs, he serves as a liaison between the university and its clinical partners, including the GW Medical Faculty Associates, the GW Hospital, and the Children's National Medical Center. As dean, he leads the eleventh oldest medical school in the United States.

Dr. Akman is a graduate of the SMHS MD program and also completed his psychiatry residency at GW. He has been a GW faculty member since 1985 and has served in decanal roles, including the associate dean for student and faculty development and policies. Just prior to becoming the interim vice president for health affairs, Dr. Akman served as the Leon M. Yochelson professor and chair of the GW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (2000-2010), where he continues to teach medical students and maintain a clinical practice. Dr. Akman is a member of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's Commission on HIV/AIDS. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the prestigious American College of Psychiatrists. Dr. Akman has a long history of community service and has served on numerous nonprofit boards of directors for organizations like the Whitman-Walker Clinic. He has received multiple awards related to teaching, community service, and humanism in medicine and is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.



The Unofficial Mascot

In 1996, GW’s then-President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg gave a gift to the Class of 2000--a bronze hippopotamus. Since it was installed at the corner of 21st and H streets, NW, the hippo has become an unofficial GW mascot.

GW hippo statue in front of Lisner Auditorium

Institutional Partnerships

The nation’s capital is a magnet for institutions that share many of The George Washington University’s aspirations for strengthening education, promoting social and economic opportunity and bringing cutting-edge research and outstanding expertise to bear on the challenges of our time—from healthcare to homeland security. GW creates formal and informal partnerships with these organizations to drive progress toward our mutual goals.

GW partners with 13 universities and two colleges in the Washington area. This consortium is dedicated to advancing higher education in and around the capital, enabling a combined 130,000 students to benefit from our collective resources. We also work closely with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and collaborate with the Greater Washington Urban League, Greater Washington Board of Trade and other organizations to create strategies that enhance our community’s quality of life.

Within the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of our main campus, GW maintains relationships with the World Bank, International Red Cross, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and countless embassies, hotels, law firms, businesses and associations. Together we sponsor events, coordinate volunteerism and leverage our resources for common causes.

Corporations & Partners

From local nonprofits to large multinational institutions, GW is always looking for partners that complement and enhance our shared mission.  Fill out our partnership form to learn more about how our students, faculty, alumni and programmatic resources can support your mission—and how you can help drive GW’s success.

The Office of Industry/Corporate Research serves as the University's focal point to forge partnerships with industry and corporations to fund research and other special projects and initiatives at GW and to commercialize our innovative research with industry leaders.

Corporate Partnerships

Working with companies and entrepreneurs, the Office of Corporation Relations (Development) and the Office of Corporate/Industry Research (Research) help the private sector explore partnership opportunities across GW.

Foundation Relations Program

The Foundation Relations Program provides comprehensive services to support faculty, administrators and center directors in their work with foundations.

Institutional Partnerships

GW creates formal and informal partnerships with several local organizations to drive progress toward our mutual goals.


Student Publications

GW has a heritage of rich, lively student publications. Like most college and university students, those at GW are driven to communicate information, to share and debate ideas and the issues of the day, and to display their creativity.

The first student newspaper, the Columbian Call, was published from 1895 to 1902 (the university was named “Columbian University” at that time). After languishing for a few years, the concept of a student newspaper reemerged in 1904 at the instigation of university President Charles W. Needham with the publication of The Weekly Columbian, the first continuously published student newspaper. Needham realized that the student body could be unified and inspired by such a vehicle. When the university became The George Washington University in 1904, the newspaper was renamed The University Hatchet, a reference to legends surrounding the university’s namesake and, perhaps, a hint of a more aggressive editorial policy. The Hatchet lives on as the second oldest surviving newspaper in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, many student published magazines, journals and reviews have come and gone. Independence Magazine was launched in the 1980’s, but ceased publication in 1998. The GW Journal had a run of two years, from 2000-2002. Undoubtedly many new vehicles for student communications will appear and then fade in the intellectual and social life of GW.

Current student publications run the gamut from straight information to opinion to creative expression. They include:

The Hatchet

Founded in 1904 as The University Hatchet, but now known simply as The Hatchet, the paper is both editorially and financially independent. It reports on university activities, student life, GW athletics, Washington area happenings, and college life nationally. Throughout its existence, The Hatchet has continued to fulfill its purpose of uniting the student body and encouraging campus spirit. As noted, it is the second oldest newspaper in the nation’s capitol. It has a paid staff of 35 and a volunteer staff of 100, publishing two issues each week. Breaking news is published on the paper’s Web site. The Hatchet was recognized as the best non-daily college newspaper in the country for 2003-2004 by the Society of Professional Journalists, and has won the Pacemaker Award of the Associated College Press in 2005 and 2008. Five Pulitzer Prize winners are alumni of The Hatchet. It is a produced by Hatchet Publications, Inc., an independent non-profit corporation.

The Cherry Tree

The university’s first student yearbook, published in 1890, was called The Columbiad, from The Columbian University name. This was shortened to The C in 1904, then evolved into The Mall in 1908, reflecting GW’s Washington location. In 1908, a student suggested the name The Cherry Tree, making a connection to another aspect of a George Washington legend (see The Hatchet). This name remains in use today.

The Cherry Tree is distributed free to all GW seniors as a gift from the GW Alumni Association, and is distributed in the fall after graduation. Each edition is planned, designed, edited, illustrated, and produced by GW students, with job titles and responsibilities rotating annually. The Cherry Tree’s student publishers have as their mission the facilitation of a greater sense of a GW community, to build unity and cohesion among the university’s departments, and to build and foster memories of the academic achievements, social lives, and school spirit of GW’s graduates. Each edition features portraits of graduating seniors, along with a written and photographic record of notable achievements – academic, social, and athletic.

Wooden Teeth

Whimsically named for yet another George Washington legend, Wooden Teeth is GW’s premier visual arts and literary student publication, soliciting contributions from GW students, faculty, and staff of both written and visual works. Beginning life in the 1970’s as the Rock Creek Review, Wooden Teeth is now published bi-annually at the end of each spring and fall semester. The editors court controversial and cutting-edge contributions, seeking to push boundaries in literature and the arts, while not lapsing into sensationalism. The editors are highly selective, often rejecting up to 90 percent of submissions in order to guarantee a high level of quality. Wooden Teeth also sponsors monthly on-campus performances and readings of poetry, short stories and songs in order to foster creative and critical thinking about the arts in the GW community.

The G.W. Review

The G.W. Review, entirely student-run literary magazine, with national and international reach, is published annually. Each issue consists of 100 pages containing works of poetry, fiction, and art as well as interviews with local writers and artists. The Review holds an annual Senior Contest for contributions that also may be published. The G.W. Review’s mission is to provide students with the opportunity to learn editorial and design skills through participation in weekly meetings on fiction and poetry, as well as training students in the use of several design programs during the layout process. Working on The Review offers a unique hands-on experience in working in publishing beyond the university, and the opportunity to become involved and active in GW’s literary community. The G.W. Review also holds “Coffeehouses,” readings, in conjunction with Wooden Teeth and other organizations to promote interest and participation in GW's art community, and to offer students popular on-campus, alcohol-free events.

Basketball Traditions

GW Basketball is a big driver of school spirit and community pride, with many successful seasons. The team’s winning formula is encouraged by the active, spirited participation of GW fans. In addition to fans’ cheering and singing, GW basketball games are marked by a number of traditions calculated to pump up our Colonials while dispiriting our opponents:

Team Entrance

When members of the GW Cheer team run the “G” and “W” flags onto the court, Colonial basketball fans rise from their seats to greet their George Washington Colonials.

Player Introductions

In anticipation of the announcement for GW’s starting lineup, Colonials fans often begin a rally clap midway through the introductions of the opposing team. Once the announcer reads “And now, for the starting line up of your George Washington Colonials,” students and season ticket holders stand and cheer until tip off.


It's time to shoot for two! When a GW player goes to the foul line, our fans are back on their feet, this time with their arms extended above their heads, quickly moving their fingers back and forth. Once our player makes the basket, GW tradition calls for fans to drop their arms and yell "WOOOSH!"

Laffy Taffy

On March 4, 2006, the George Washington Colonials men’s basketball team beat the Charlotte 49ers, 86-85 in double overtime, to complete their first-ever undefeated season of Atlantic 10 play. As soon as junior Carl Elliott tipped in the winning shot – right at the buzzer – Colonial fans stormed the court to join the team’s celebration. The men’s players then heard the song “Laffy Taffy” echoing in the arena. They responded by jumping on the announcer’s table and dancing. This sparked the Colonial Army to chant “G … DUB … G … DUB.” Whenever Colonials students hear “Laffy Taffy,” it brings back the excitement and pride of that amazing March day.

Spirit Groups

Colonial Spirit

Enthusiastic student display of spirit is a long-held GW tradition. Although much of this energy is directed toward athletics, it spills over into other facets of student life. The GW community shows its school spirit proudly and loyally, strengthening the sense of pride that permeates the university.

Students can participate in three formal Spirit Programs, as well as many other organized – and more spontaneous – activities.

The GW Cheer Team

The GW cheerleading team is a nationally competitive co-ed team that has the privilege of cheering for the University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams at all home games and at post-season tournaments. The team competes annually in the National College Cheerleading Championships. Tryouts for the GW Cheer Team take place in April and September. Incoming freshmen, transfer students and current students with good academic and judicial standing are eligible to participate.

GW Dance Team (The First Ladies)

Known to Colonials fans as The First Ladies, the nationally competitive GW dance team performs jazz, pom and hip-hop styles. The team moves from center stage to center court, performing during timeouts and halftimes at all GW’s men’s and women’s home basketball games. The First Ladies also travel to post-season tournaments and compete annually in the National College Dance Team Championships.

GW Mascot Squad

In April 2012, George the mascot brought home his first-ever National Championship trophy by taking first place at the College Mascot Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Back home, you will see George at a variety of on-campus events and community appearances – including showing his support for all 23 varsity athletics teams. Auditions for the GW Mascot Squad take place in April and September. Incoming freshmen, transfer students and current students with good academic and judicial standing are eligible to take part.

Pep Band (The Colonial Brass)

In October 1931, the Student Council organized a student band to build school spirit. Today Colonial Brass Pep Band has nearly 75 members who play at both men's and women's home basketball games and travel to select away games and tournaments. Colonial Brass is central to several GW traditions, including renditions of the GW Fight Song and Alma Mater. Colonial Brass is also known for being among the most spirited fans in the stands.

Colonial Army

The Colonial Army is the official student fan group for all GW Athletics. Colonial Army members enjoy exclusive benefits such as lower level, court side seating, an official season t-shirt, tailgate parties, road trips, access to teams and coaches and the chance to participate in gameday promotions. With over 1000 members, the Colonial Army is best known for being the true home court advantage in the Charles E. Smith Center.

Alma Mater & Fight Song

Learn the words to GW’s anthems and join others who proudly sing. From central locations on campus, you can hear the “GW Fight Song” and “Alma Mater” played on the carillon chimes daily at 12:15 and 6 p.m.

GW Alma Mater

George Roth wrote the original version of the “Alma Mater” in 1930. Dr. George Steiner, professor emeritus of music, rewrote it in 1970.

Hail Alma Mater
To thy spirit guiding,
Knowledge thy closest friend
In its strength abiding,
Pledge we fidelity
Ne'er its place resigning,
Hail thee George Washington!

GW Fight Song

The “GW Fight Song,” formally titled “Hail to the Blue and Buff,” is sung loudly and proudly at every GW sporting event. In 1924, Eugene Sweeney wrote the song titled “Buff and Blue,” which served as the fight song for the GW’s varsity football team. In 1989, Patrick M. Jones rewrote the lyrics so it could be used for any GW athletic contest. He entitled it “The GW Fight Song.”

When the “GW Fight Song” is played, tradition requires every Colonial to stand up, clap hands to the beat and belt out the lyrics. GW fans can often be seen cheering, clapping and even throwing their arms in the air when certain lyrics are sung. Incoming freshman are taught the words to the “GW Fight Song” during their Colonial Inauguration sessions:

Hail to the Buff,
Hail to the Blue,
Hail to the Buff and Blue!
All our lives we'll be proud to say,
We hail from GW!
Go Big Blue!
Oh, by George, we're happy we can say,
We're GW, here to show the way, so
Raise high the Buff!
Raise high the Blue!
Loyal to GW
You bet we're
Loyal to GW!

Colors & Mascots

In 1904, the Columbian University became the George Washington University. As an institution, we embraced symbols and imagery associated with our new namesake. While Columbian’s school colors had been orange and blue, GW adopted blue and buff, the colors of the military uniform worn by George Washington both throughout the War of Independence and when he resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on Dec. 23, 1783. In the 1930s, the official blue and buff colors were matched to the original uniform, now found in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Blue and buff have been incorporated into GW’s visual identity and are found throughout the university.



George (formerly known as George 1) is the namesake mascot of the George Washington University. This mascot wears a buff and blue military uniform with “George Washington” across his back. A powdered wig sits beneath George’s large tri-cornered hat, and a pale blue sash drapes across his chest. George turns up at athletic events, waving his powerful golden hatchet. He also makes appearances at other events, both on campus and off, to rally the school spirit, unity and pride that mark life at GW.

Big George

This 10-foot inflatable mascot is George’s favorite sidekick and GW’s biggest sports fan. Big George can be found at all the men’s and women’s home basketball games, as well as university events held in venues with ceilings that are at least 12 feet high. Big George’s job is to cheer the Colonials to victory!

The Hippo

The Hippo is GW’s widely loved – though unofficial – mascot. In 1996, a bronze statue of a hippopotamus was presented by then-President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg to GW’s Class of 2000 and installed at the center of campus. Since taking up residence, the Hippo has become a real presence as the university’s student-life mascot. Inspired by the statue, the version spotted at campus events wiggles his ears, shakes his tail and, most impressively, stands on his head. That 9-foot-tall inflatable Hippo mascot makes appearances all around campus and at many university events. According to legend, if you rub the Hippo sculpture’s nose, you’ll have good luck. As for the inflatable Hippo, you’ll have to settle for rubbing its belly. The Hippo’s likeness is found on posters promoting student events. Hippo merchandise is available at the bookstore.