Sports & Spirit

Sports and Spirit

GW sports and spirit traditions arise from the enthusiasm stirred by athletic competition and the loyalty we feel for our 23 NCAA Division I teams. Because they are emotional in origin, GW spirit traditions tend to be held very deeply and expressed strongly by students, alumni, season ticket holders, and the loyal faculty and staff who cheer for our Colonials.

Sports and spirit traditions are part of daily life for students. For alumni, they spark fond memories and serve as a bridge back to their university years. And for college sports fans in Washington – and beyond – they shape an image of the university.

Following a vote by the student body in 1928, the GW sports teams became known as the Colonials. Nearly immediately, GW’s spirit traditions began to surface. They started with school colors, symbols and mascots. Musical traditions emerged, notably the “Alma Mater” and the “GW Fight Song.” Then organized spirit groups formed around the Colonials. They include the cheer and dance teams, the pep band and, more recently, the Colonial Army. Many of the university’s cornerstone events are explicitly tied to spirit traditions, especially Spirit Week, Colonial Invasion and Colonials Weekend.

Students can add their spirit to Colonials sports by attending games on our Foggy Bottom campus, in the newly renovated Charles E. Smith Center, or on the lacrosse, soccer and softball fields of our Mount Vernon campus. A valid GWorld card allows students to support their team at all home games free of charge.


Seal, Mace & Coat of Arms

GW’s seal, the University mace and our coat of arms serve as important visual symbols of the University’s heritage and prestige. In particular, they celebrate our connection to the vision, character and persona of George Washington.

University Seal

The seal of The George Washington University is used to identify and endorse diplomas and other official documents. The two-inch-diameter seal bears an image of George Washington based on a well-known painting by Gilbert Stuart. An open Bible shows a verse from the gospel of St. John, in Greek. The seal is encircled with a double ring, in azure, carrying the words “the George Washington University, 1821.”

University Mace

A mace, or staff, is carried by a dignitary at official events to mark the power and prestige of an institution. At Commencement and other GW ceremonies, our University marshal carries the University mace. It represents the standing of the University and the power of higher education as a force for good. The University mace was created by Harry Irving Gates, associate professor of sculpture, and was presented by the Faculty Women’s Club of The George Washington University. A profile of George Washington is displayed on the mace’s flanges.

The Coat of Arms

The Colonial Coat of Arms is a unique symbol of GW’s heritage. Great Britain’s York Herald of Arms presented it to the University at GW’s 1997 Commencement ceremony. The coat of arms shows George and Martha Washington holding a heraldic shield beneath a cupola that symbolizes Mount Vernon, Washington's home. The shield itself bears three stars and two stripes, emblems from the armorial bearings of Washington's family. Other elements, such as the brick walkway and roses, refer to more modern GW traditions.

Visiting Campus

Download maps of our campuses as a guide to classroom space, residence halls and other campus landmarks.

Foggy Bottom Campus Map
Mount Vernon Campus Map


Athletics & Recreation

Varsity Sports

The University’s lively athletics program, with teams often in the NCAA spotlight, contributes immeasurably to the GW experience, school spirit and community pride. It also raises GW’s national profile. To join one of our 23 varsity sports as an athlete or student team manager is a special opportunity. Our coaches are committed to the University's belief in a well-rounded student athlete. That means athletes work hard to achieve intellectual development, maintain high academic standards and practice good citizenry in our community.

Club & Intramural Sports

Many GW students want to stay active while in college, but without the commitment to participation in a varsity sport. Club and intramural sports enable students to reap the health and wellness benefits of athletic competition (not to mention the fun), while remaining focused on academics and other aspects of life at GW.

Spirit Groups

GW has a long tradition of students organizing to create and express school spirit focused around our athletic teams. The excitement and involvement that are driven by athletics carry over into other aspects of student life, imbuing the GW community with a sense of pride in and loyalty to the George Washington University as an institution. This spirit is transmitted to neighbors in the Washington region, and sometimes to national audiences, building positive perceptions of GW. Some of our spirit groups, like the Cheer Team and Dance Team are themselves opportunities for athletic-related activities. Learn more at the GW Spirit Program website.

Fans & Supporters

Fans and supporters, If you're in town, swing by the newly renovated Charles E. Smith Center and our other venues to cheer on your Colonials. General tickets are available, in addition to special fan clubs.

Academic Life

At GW, students’ academic life is rich. They have opportunities to engage in research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and their interaction with professors is lively and thoughtful. Our professors, often world-renowned experts in their fields, teach against the backdrop of our nation’s capital, a city rich in intellectual resources, as they empower the next generation of leaders. Courses unfold in large lecture halls, small classes, seminars and experiential learning initiatives. 

Our 9,500 full-time undergraduates study in more than 72 majors across the spectrum of business, engineering, international affairs, communications and media, sciences, math, social sciences, arts, languages and the humanities. At the graduate level, GW offers more than 200 programs. Although graduate students undertake their studies through one of GW’s ten colleges and schools, they have many opportunities for interdisciplinary study.

The university is proud of its state-of-the-art facilities, including a capital markets trading room at the School of Business and multimedia lecture halls at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Most classrooms have wireless access.

With more than 2 million titles, Gelman, GW’s flagship library, is a source of information and inspiration. GW also belongs to the Washington Research Library Consortium, providing students with access to more than 7.5 million volumes in the libraries of eight area universities.

GW aims to educate citizens who enthusiastically take on the challenges of life in a global, technological society. Our professors dedicate themselves to both the subjects they love and teaching the core intellectual capabilities that last a lifetime.

The first of these core skills is critical thinking, the foundation of undergraduate education. The University Writing Program, the Dean’s Seminars in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Women’s Leadership Program and undergraduate classes across GW’s schools and colleges aim to teach students to think analytically, to solve complex problems and to challenge the status quo. 

Quantitative reasoning is the second important skill GW seeks to impart to all undergraduates. Quantitative reasoning embraces a wide range of subjects in math and science but also reaches beyond to economics and psychology. GW students gain essential knowledge as well as key skills that equip them to meet the challenges of living in our complex, technological and rapidly changing world.

GW also believes in educating students to think globally. We encourage our students to learn a second language, to study diverse cultures and to explore our study abroad options. Knowledge of other countries, cultures and languages opens doors in life.  In the 2010-2011 academic year we sent more than 1,800 students abroad to 81 different countries. The university also presents multicultural and international points of view across its curriculum.

At the graduate level, GW’s programs merge theory and practice. Graduate students participate in high-level research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including the arts and sciences, engineering, political studies, business, human development, international affairs, law and medicine.

Visiting Campus

University Yard Photo

We encourage all students and families who are considering GW to visit our campuses and experience first-hand everything we have to offer. We offer a range of tour options to fit your scheduling needs.

The university is an integral part of the District of Columbia and no visit to GW is complete without sampling the offerings of its city. Washington, D.C., is accessible and easy to get around, with an array of affordable lodging located near the university and plenty of dining options on and off campus.

Campus Visits for Undergraduate Students

A visit to GW gives you the chance to hear first-hand about programs and financial aid available to you, as well as the opportunity to tour our historic Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon Campuses with a current student.

Sign Up for a Visit

Campus Visits for Graduate Students

GW offers tours for graduate and professional students three days a week- Monday, Wednesday and Friday- at 12:30 PM. All tours are led by a current graduate student.

Sign up for a Visit



The George Washington University’s leadership team—composed of the board of trustees, president, provost, vice presidents, deans and department chairs—manages day-to-day operations at the university and is firmly committed to ensuring a top-quality educational experience for GW students.

Chairman RamseyBoard of Trustees

The George Washington University is governed by a board of trustees, which has overall legal and fiduciary responsibility for the university.  The board works with the leadership team of the university comprised of the president, provost, vice presidents, deans and department chairs.  All are firmly committed to ensuring a top-quality educational experience for GW students. The current chair of the Board of Trustees is Nelson A. Carbonell, Jr., a 1985 alumnus of the university.

President Knapp

Office of the President

Steven Knapp became the sixteenth president of the George Washington University in August 2007.  His priorities include enhancing the university’s partnerships with neighboring institutions, expanding the scope of its research, strengthening its worldwide community of alumni, enlarging its students’ opportunities for public service, and leading its transformation into a model of urban sustainability.

Provost Lerman

Office of the Provost

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, the provost oversees all programs and offices associated with student life and learning and serves as second-in-command of the university. The current provost is Steven R. Lerman, who has more than 35 years experience in higher education.

Vice Presidents

Vice presidents collectively oversee the George Washington 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.


The dean of each school serves as its chief administrative officer and is responsible to the president through the vice president for academic affairs. Deans serve at the pleasure of the president, provided they retain the confidence of their faculty.

Department Chairs

The chair of a department serves as the communications channel for all regular business between the faculty of the department and the University’s administration. Department chairs are appointed by the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, acting on nominations from the department that are recommended by the dean of the school.

University Offices & Staff

The George Washington University is the largest institution of higher education in the nation’s capital. More than 6,000 faculty members, administrators and support personnel keep the university’s wheels turning.



Traditions are an important part of GW's culture, enriching daily life and cultivating pride within our community. Our oldest traditions date back to 1904 when Columbian College became The George Washington University. With the adoption of its new name, GW embraced a rich array of customs and symbols complementing the University's character and vision. Today, many of our traditions incorporate the legends and lore linked to our namesake, President George Washington.

Over time, diversity and a broadening range of student interests have brought additional traditions that are shared by faculty, staff and alumni. Old and new, these are celebrated through athletics, student organizations, spirit groups, University publications and hallmark events. Campus landmarks, including the Tempietto, brick walkways, University Gates, busts of George Washington and the lovable bronze hippo, join the traditions, helping GW to leave an indelible mark on its charming neighborhood in the nation’s beautiful city of monuments.

Foggy Bottom Directions & Parking

Campus Landmarks

Kogan Plaza

Campus landmarks are a quintessential part of the University. Iconic buildings, statues, open spaces and other landmarks – and their histories and legends – are among the special elements that unite the GW community. Knowing about the landmarks can save campus newcomers from the embarrassment of, for example, heading to the National Zoo when someone says “Meet me by the Hippo.” For the record, the hippo sculpture on the Foggy Bottom campus is GW’s unofficial mascot.

University Yard
With entrances on H, 20th, and 21st streets, NW, the University Yard is a favorite spot for students to study, relax and meet friends on beautiful days. The open area studded with benches, trees, grass and flowers includes rose gardens at the north and west entrances. Those roses bloom from early May through the fall. The brick walkways that converge at the center of the University Yard lead from the GW Law School and other academic buildings.

George Washington Statue
A bronze statue of George Washington stands at the north entrance of the University Yard, just past the rose garden. The statue is a cast of the 18th-century marble original by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon.

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 popular sculpture has become an unofficial GW mascot.

Tall European-design clocks rise from three locations on the campus. One anchors the center of Kogan Plaza, a popular lunch spot, a venue for student events and a rendezvous point for friends.

Washington Busts
Four busts of GW’s namesake appear at four street intersections on the campus. The busts carry the University’s name and serve as a reminder of GW’s presence within the city at the same time they fuel student pride.

Pushkin Statue
The first U.S. memorial to Russian poet and writer Alexander Pushkin was erected at The George Washington University in September 2000. “This statue will serve as a great inspiration to our students who are drawn to the elegance, wit and lightness of Pushkin’s language and the accessibility of his imagery,” former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said when the memorial was installed. The statue is found at 22nd and H streets, NW.

Tempietto (“Little Temple”)
A classical structure in Kogan Plaza, the Tempietto adds an aesthetic touch to a busy GW location. Students use the Tempietto as a gathering spot in the center of campus.

Kogan Plaza
Beside Gelman Library and behind Lisner Auditorium is the University’s equivalent of an outdoor living room. Kogan Plaza is home to the Tempietto, a clock, a fountain, benches, a full outdoor classroom and tables and chairs for outside dining or studying.

Lenthall Houses
The Lenthall Houses are two of the oldest buildings in the District of Columbia. They went up on 19th Street, NW, and then were moved to their present location at 606 and 610 21st St. in 1978 to make room for an annex to the World Bank. They were designed and built by John Lenthall, the principal assistant to Benjamin Latrobe in the construction of the U.S. Capitol and superintendent of the building from 1803-1808. The houses are Federal-style brick buildings that are used for visiting faculty.

President’s Residence
At 1925 F St., NW, a historical building serves as home to GW President Steven Knapp. Once the site of the prestigious F Street Club, the beautiful building was renovated and now watches over Thurston Hall.

GW Lisner Auditorium
Lisner Auditorium opened its doors in the fall of 1946 and, for many years, was the only sizable theater in Washington. Composed of marble, the auditorium’s spare design, spaciousness and ultra-modern lighting system set it apart from other performance venues of its period. It opened with 1,550 seats and a 59-foot stage, reportedly the largest south of New York City. Ingrid Bergman performed here in 1949. Before the Kennedy Center was built, Lisner Auditorium, at 730 21st St., NW, was Washington’s focal point for music and dramatic performances. Susan Whitney Dimock bequeathed money for the Dimock Gallery next to the lower Lisner Lounge.

Anniversary Park
This pocket park on F Street between 22nd and 23rd streets, NW, commemorates GW’s 175th anniversary. Complete with a garden, benches and grills for gatherings, Anniversary Park is a valued space on the south end of the city campus.

Washington Circle
Just north of the The George Washington University Hospital, the circle features a bronze equestrian statue of George Washington at its center. The circle was dedicated in February 1860 on the eve of the Civil War. It depicts Washington at the 1776 Battle of Princeton.

2000 Penn
This block-long, mixed-use commercial space at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, was constructed in the 1980s behind a group of Victorian townhouses. Owned by GW, it includes shops and restaurants on the lower level and first floor, and offices on the upper floors. The structure’s facade holds the distinction of being the only stretch of architecture between the White House and Washington Circle that retains its historic character without intrusion.

Ornamental Gates
Three ornamental iron gates, part of a major plan to enhance GW’s Foggy Bottom campus, mark the entrances to Kogan Plaza. Professors Gate stands on 21st Street, NW, next to Lisner Auditorium. Across the quadrangle on 22nd St., NW, is America’s Gate, endowed by alumnus Emilio Fernandez. Americas Gate commemorates cultural diversity in the United States. On H Street, NW, Trustees Gate marks the main entrance to Kogan Plaza.

Once a popular pharmacy and GW gathering place, the building at 619 21st St., NW, has hung onto its importance as a GW hotspot. Although it retains Quigley’s exterior facade, the building is now home to Tonic Restaurant, an American cuisine eatery that has revitalized the 21st Street address.

Alumni House
Housed in two pre-Civil War townhouses, 1918 F St., NW, is home to GW’s Office of Alumni Relations. Alumni House has a rich heritage. It contains historic furniture and artwork from President Ulysses S. Grant. His grandson Ulysses S. Grant III, a former GW trustee, donated the furniture to the University in the 1950s.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (JBKO) Hall
The residence hall at 2222 Eye St., NW, is dedicated to GW’s most noted alumna. Several portraits of the former first lady grace the hall’s lobby, offering students a daily reminder of her brilliance and sophistication.