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Trachtenberg to Become President Emeritus and University Professor in 2007 | Former President, First Lady to Keynote Commencement 2006 | President’s Medal Awarded to Croatian Minister | Clark, Team Unearth Oldest Tyrannosaur | Dance Professors Unveil New Works | Elliot Hirshman Named Chief Research Officer | World Leaders Visit GW | Wake-Up Call | Fostering Women’s Leadership | Cheney Cardiovascular Institute Announced | Faculty Focus | George Welcomes | At A Glance | GW in History | A Faculty for Writing

Trachtenberg to Become President Emeritus and University Professor in 2007

In April, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg announced that he will become president emeritus and a University professor of public service when his current contract ends in the summer of 2007. He has served as president since 1988 and also is professor of public administration.

“Serving as head of this special University has had my undivided attention for nearly 20 years,” Trachtenberg says. “I’m now exchanging my first love for my second; it’s the American thing to do. I want to test the hypothesis that those who can do—can also teach.”

Trachtenberg will be the University’s first president emeritus. His work and studies in his new positions will focus on rethinking and reshaping higher education.

“I expect to study where American universities are headed in the 21st century,” Trachtenberg says. “This is not the type of scholarship that can be undertaken while trying to actively lead a major university.”

GW Board of Trustees Chairman Charles T. Manatt expressed enthusiasm that Trachtenberg will continue to serve the GW community and named several highlights of Trachtenberg’s presidency, including the creation of five new schools, a rise in applications from 6,000 to more than 20,000 per year, and enhancing the University’s position and positive reputation as Washington’s center of scholarship.

“Steve has not only firmly established the University as a premier institution of higher education, he has strategically charted the University’s course for the future,” Manatt says.

The Board of Trustees will acknowledge the transition at its May 19 meeting. The University will begin searching for a new president in the coming months.

Former President, First Lady to Keynote Commencement 2006

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush will be the featured speakers at GW’s Commencement 2006. The Bushes will receive honorary degrees in recognition of their decades of public service. Viacom founder Sumner Redstone, Motion Picture Association President Dan Glickman, JD ’69, and Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson also will receive honorary degrees during the weekend—Redstone at Commencement, Glickman at the Law School ceremony, and Robinson at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences celebration. Commencement will be held May 21 on the National Mall.

President’s Medal Awarded to Croatian Minister

Julie Woodford

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, minister of foreign affairs and European integration of the Republic of Croatia, received the University’s President’s Medal in February. GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Michael Brown hosted the event, which took place at 1957 E Street. The award is the University’s highest honor.

Born in Croatia, Grabar-Kitarovic studied at GW from 2002 to 2003 as a Fulbright Scholar. In November of 2003, she was elected to the Croatian Parliament from the seventh electoral district as a member of the Croatian Democratic Union. In December 2003 she was appointed Minister of European Integration and began negotiations in 2004 for Croatia to join the European Union. Grabar-Kitarovic was confirmed in her current role in February 2005.

Clark, Team Unearth Oldest Tyrannosaur

A team of paleontologists led by a GW professor have discovered the oldest tyrannosaur, a distant ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, in northwestern China. In February, James Clark, the Ronald Weintraub associate professor of biology, and colleague Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing published their findings in Nature. In 2002, the team found largely intact fossils of a 12-year-old adult and 7-year-old juvenile dinosaur in the 160 million year old rocks at Wucaiwan. After years of research, Clark and his team now know more about the evolution of the T. rex than ever before.

Guanlong wucaii
, the oldest tyrannosaur and a distant ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, was discovered in China by a team led by professor James Clark. The species is smaller, swifter, and has longer limbs than its predatory, slow-moving descendant. Guanlong’s most remarkable feature is the inflatable, bony crest atop its snout. Clark theorizes this feature was used to attract mates or to aid in species recognition.

The new species, Guanlong wucaii, predates T. rex by more than 90 million years and is remarkably different from its large, lumbering, short-limbed, predatorial descendants. It was swift, long-limbed, mid-sized, and not the dominant predator of its day. Guanlong wucaii—or “crown dragon from the land of five colors”—is so named for the Wucaiwan locality and because of the unique, inflatable bony crest atop its snout, an unusual feature in carnivorous dinosaurs. The crest was a thin membrane covering an air-filled sac; Clark believes the purpose of these was probably for visual signaling.

Guanlong does have attributes similar to T. rex, including similarly shaped cutting teeth and a variety of bony features on its skull and hip bones. The discovery of Guanlong also sheds light on the early evolution and geographical distribution of coelurosaurs, small theropod (carnivorous, small-limbed biped) dinosaurs that include tyrannosaurs and the closest known relatives to birds.

The team found many fossils including Guanlong in the Junggar Basin, an area in the far western part of the Gobi desert. They chose to search in that area because Chinese geologists previously found fossils there in the 1970s while searching for oil. A Chinese-Canadian expedition later found intriguing fossil remains there.

“You depend on previous discoveries,” Clark said at a news conference in February. Clark has led teams on six expeditions in China since 2000. China has been good to Clark and his colleagues: In 2004, Nature published their finding of the most complete skeleton of a land-based crocodilian from the Middle Jurassic period and also from the Wucaiwan area. Junggarsuchus sloani is an important evolutionary link; the new species confirmed that crocodilians’ skull and strong jaws developed while they lived on land, before evolving into semi-aquatic dwellers. After that discovery was published, Clark said he still had “decades of work” left on remaining samples found in China. Guanlong was just waiting to be found.

—Laura Ewald

Dance Professors Unveil New Works

Professor Maida Withers accepts the D.C. Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in Dance.

Professor Dana Tai Soon Burgess (standing) in Images from the Embers.

Mary Noble Ours

Professors Dana Tai Soon Burgess, MFA ‘94, and Maida Withers each premiered new international works in the spring semester. Withers also received the D.C. Mayor’s Award for Excellence in dance in January. A celebration was held for recipients at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Burgess presented Images from the Embers, an evening-length performance about love and loss during wartime, at GW’s Lisner Auditorium in March. The work was commissioned by the Washington Performing Arts Society. Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. will take the piece to Lima, Peru, and Bytom and Krakow, Poland, this summer.

Withers is the founder of the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, which has presented original dance and multimedia works since 1974. Withers collaborates with artists internationally, recently performing in Russia and bringing Russian artists to Washington to study and perform Thresholds Crossed. Withers joined GW in 1965 and has received numerous awards including a Fulbright Travel Award to Taiwan. She previously directed the master of fine arts in dance program and now teaches undergraduates.

Elliot Hirshman Named Chief Research Officer

GW’s expanding research enterprise took a giant step forward in January, when Elliot Hirshman was named the University’s chief research officer.

Elliot Hirshman, chief research officer.

Julie Woodford

A cognitive neuroscientist, Hirshman came to GW in 2002 as chair of psychology and was chosen last year to serve as interim chief research officer, a newly created management position. Earlier in his career, he chaired the department of psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver and spent more than a decade at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, rising steadily through the ranks to professor of psychology and special assistant to the provost.

The author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations, Hirshman specializes in the cognitive and biological basis of human memory. He received a BA in economics and mathematics from Yale University and an MA and PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

As GW’s first chief research officer, Hirshman is responsible for the University’s extensive research operations, encompassing more than 70 specialized research centers and institutes and sponsored research expenditures of $120 million per year. “Our approximately 1,000-member faculty is deeply engaged in research and creative activity,” says Hirshman. “My primary responsibility is to ensure that the research enterprise flourishes, with the ultimate goal of moving GW into the ranks of top-tier research institutions. This involves procuring a broad array of resources that are necessary to support research, as well as fostering a general climate that is supportive of research.”

Hirshman works collaboratively with the deans of GW’s schools and colleges, as well as with a wide range of University offices, to ensure that faculty researchers secure appropriate resources. “Moving forward, it will also be critical to solicit donations to support research from alumni and other friends of the University,” he says.

According to Hirshman, GW’s sponsored research enterprise has doubled from $60 million to $120 million since 1997. “This has resulted from the entrepreneurial energy of our faculty, the strong support of University leaders and academic deans, the dedicated efforts of our research support staff, and a national funding climate that has been extremely supportive,” he says.

A number of pressing items top GW’s research agenda for the near future. “Building a science building is essential to our ability to grow the research enterprise,” states Hirshman. “Similarly, raising or re-allocating additional funds to support innovative research projects is essential. It is also critical to enhance collaboration across schools and colleges so we can be competitive for interdisciplinary research funding and to create a critical mass of faculty members in selected areas so we can be competitive for large-scale center grants.” Hirshman says that he’s enjoying the challenge. “It’s been very exciting to learn about the innovative research programs that are occurring in all of our schools and colleges,” he states. “The research enterprise is a critical aspect of the life of The George Washington University. Research raises the prestige and national profile of the University, exposes our students to cutting-edge knowledge and technology, facilitates the training of students for professional opportunities, and contributes to economic growth through the technology transfer process. I am honored to serve as GW’s CRO and excited about the opportunity to work with our faculty and administrators in supporting research at GW.”

—Jamie L. Freedman

World Leaders Visit GW

Associate Vice President for Homeland Security Frank Cilluffo; Eduard Kukan, minister of foreign affairs; School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dean James Scott; Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovakia Mikulas Dzurinda; Provost John F. “Skip” Williams; Ambassador to Slovakia Rodolphe M. “Skip” Vallee; GW Hospital CEO Richard Becker; and Rastislav Kacer, ambassador of the Republic of Slovakia to the United States.

President George W. Bush, right, is greeted by GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg after delivering a policy address on campus.

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister of Slovakia Mikulas Dzurinda paid separate visits to GW March 13, drawing international attention to the University.

Bush spoke at an event of the Foundation for Defense Democracies, outlining the work that organization has done to help rebuild Iraq. Bush also discussed his administration’s plans to address challenges in the rebuilding process. The address, which was held in the Marvin Center, was attended by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Sen. Richard Luger (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and ambassadors from several countries.

Dzurinda toured GW Hospital and met with GW Medical Center administrators to discuss global cooperation and advanced medical technologies. The talks focused on implementing medical progress, education, and health reform in Slovakia.

Wake-Up Call
GW Developing Program to Prevent Drowsy Driver Accidents

Each year, driver fatigue plays a role in more than 100,000 crashes, causing more than 40,000 injuries and deaths, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The GW Virginia Campus’ Driving Simulator Laboratory, part of the University’s Center for Intelligent Systems Research, conducts driving behavior and vehicle control experiments aimed at making vehicle travel safer. One such effort is the Drowsy Driver Detection System, through which researchers track and classify normal and drowsy steering behaviors using artificial neural networks that mimic brain function.

Detecting signs of driver fatigue is among several projects run in the Driving Simulator Laboratory at the University’s Virginia Campus. GW graduate students assist with gathering data from the simulator.

Azim Eskandarian, professor of engineering and applied science, began the project in 1998 under a contract for the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center of the Federal Highway Administration. The initial phase involved analyzing data gathered on sleep-deprived drivers by the FHWA and the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital using a driving simulator. Driver and vehicle variables that were measured included braking, speed, acceleration, lane control, and steering activity. Eye movement was analyzed in subsequent phases.

Data gathered in simulator and processed by the artificial neural networks were used to create a framework for an unobtrusive detection method, which created steering angle activity during driving, thus detecting or predicting whether the driver is drowsy. During the second and third phases of the project, Eskandarian worked with his team and with students on the Virginia Campus, developing its Passenger Car Driving Simulator Lab and gathering another sleep deprived driver data set. This set was different from the first in that it involved a morning session test and a late evening (or very early morning) session test which created the sleep deprived condition. With support from the Federal Motor Career Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation, a Truck Driving Simulator Laboratory also was established. Fourteen commercially licensed drivers were tested in a similar manner to drivers in the car simulator experiments. The results of these experiments were used to further develop, verify, and validate the detection system.

In all three data sets, the detection system achieved an 86 to 91 percent success rate in the detection of drowsy driving patterns. Eye monitoring in the second and third phases increased detection accuracy by about 5 percent; however, Eskandarian hopes to optimize unobtrusive detection without the use of eye monitoring as much as possible. If Eskandarian and his team are successful in gaining additional funding for the project, the next step will be field/track testing and working toward increasing the accuracy of the detection system.

“Reliable, robust, and error-free detection” remains the project’s primary goal, Eskandarian says. Once the detection method has been perfected, the team might move on to develop a warning system to alert the driver—or the vehicle itself—that drowsy steering patterns are being displayed.

“When an unobtrusive detection method is developed and integrated with the appropriate warning strategy, a complete system can be envisioned. Such a system would be installed in the vehicle and use the vehicle variables such as steering angle and, based on the developed algorithms, anticipate a potentially hazardous situation and execute the warning to alert the driver,” Eskandarian says. “In more critical situations when a crash is eminent, warning could take the form of active control for stopping or steering the vehicle to safety—yet another area of active research. However, the legal issue concerning taking vehicle controls is a totally larger challenge—and sometimes the main showstopper—in collision avoidance technologies.”


Fostering Women’s Leadership

The personal and professional challenges facing women in the 21st century took center stage at the 2006 Women’s Leadership Conference, “Listen, Speak, Act,” on April 7 at GW’s Mount Vernon Campus.

Attendees at this year’s Women’s Leadership Conference, held at the Mount Vernon Campus, experienced a day of motivational dicussions on topics such as career building and development and leadership skills.

Julie Woodford

The fourth annual intergenerational conference celebrating women leaders brought together speakers and presenters from various professions and backgrounds to discuss topics such as career building and development and developing leadership skills.

Janis Karpinski, the author of One Woman’s Army, kicked off the forum with a keynote speech on her experiences as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve. Now retired, Karpinski was the commanding officer in charge of Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. She has accused the government of interfering with her command, concealing the torture of prisoners from her, and of scapegoating her during the ensuing scandal.

The keynote speaker at the conference luncheon was Laura A. Liswood, co-founder and secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders and senior advisor to Goldman, Sachs & Co. From 1992 to 1996, as director of the Women’s Leadership Project, Liswood interviewed 15 current and former women presidents and prime ministers for her book and video documentary, Women World Leaders.

Other featured presenters included Linda S. Paulk, MVC ’84, former president of the renowned staffing firm Snelling and Snelling, who led a professional development session titled “Getting the Next Job,” and prominent researchers Gail Derrick, MA ’88, EdD ’01, Ronald R. Bernier, and Amanda Konradi, who discussed their findings on women’s leadership.

“We’re excited that the conference took on a more scholarly bent this year,” says Rachelle Heller, associate dean for academic affairs on the Mount Vernon Campus. “For the first time, we offered research presentations on women’s leadership. They were a great addition to an already exceptional program.”

Another highlight of the conference was a coffee house panel discussion on women’s issues, featuring Allida Black, PhD ’92, GW professor and director and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers; Stephanie Jason, MVC ’93, principle at the International Forum Institute; Anne Whiteman, air traffic controller at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport; and Leslie Harris, MVC ’99, co-founder of Sojourner Truth Charter High School for Humanities and Technology.

According to Heller, the springtime conference is now an eagerly anticipated annual tradition on the Mount Vernon Campus. “I’m exceptionally proud that this is quickly becoming a world-class conference on issues of women leadership,” she says. “Thanks to our unique position of being able to look backwards and forwards at the same time, the forum is getting better and better each year.”


Cheney Cardiovascular Institute Announced

David R. Bohrer

GW’s Medical Faculty Associates has received a $2.7 million charitable contribution from Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Lynne V. Cheney to establish a cardiovascular institute. The mission of the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Cardiovascular Institute is the advancement of research, education, and the clinical care of cardiovascular diseases. Directed by Dr. Richard Katz, the institute unifies clinicians and scientists in departments including cardiology, radiology, cardiovascular surgery, biochemistry, molecular biology, and pharmacology. One of the institute’s first initiatives will be identifying the significance of genomics and proteomics in cardiovascular disease.

“Lynne and I have been grateful for the first-rate care provided by the doctors at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and we are pleased to support their efforts to advance the treatment of cardiac disease,” Cheney said.