Charge to the Graduates

Delivered by GW President Steven Knapp
GW Commencement on the National Mall
Washington, DC
May 17, 2009

I am honored to welcome the Class of 2009 into the life-long and worldwide community of GW alumni. You are exceptional men and women and I am proud to call you graduates of the George Washington University.

This is an exciting day for you and the family and friends who have supported you throughout your educational journey. We gather in this majestic setting on the National Mall to celebrate your accomplishments, applaud your hard work and perseverance, and to honor your deep commitment to being an active and engaged citizen of your community, nation, and world.

This year you had a front row seat at the theater of history. You were fortunate to have witnessed the inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama ---- and to have participated -- to have participated in the Inaugural Parade and attended an Inaugural Ball. Today that excitement we all felt continues and has continued as we welcomed our Commencement Speaker. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, thank you for that address.

My charge to you today is to keep alive your spirit, energy, and commitment to public service, keep participating and contributing and challenging others to do the same. You are our future leaders and will no doubt make a real difference in the world. I know you will not only answer the call to service, you will continue to lead the way.

As you go forth to do great things, always carry GW with you and always know that the George Washington University -- at the George Washington University you have a home in the heart of the nation's capital.

Best wishes to you all.

Emergency Communications

The University utilizes several different mediums to notify GW students, staff, faculty, and community members of emergency situations and safety-related information. Highlights include:

Campus Advisories

The principal method used to communicate incident related information to the GW community.  Students, faculty, and staff use this web site to stay informed about:

  1. Changes in university status;
  2. Adverse weather conditions;
  3. Important issues concerning safety; and
  4. Anything else that may disrupt normal operations.

GW Alert Text Message and Email Alert

GW Alert is an emergency communication system that will send important notifications, alerts and updates directly to your e-mail address and mobile device. Student, faculty and staff members are automatically been registered to receive email alerts through their GW email address. To update your contact information and add your mobile device, visit BanWeb. For more information view the GW Alert FAQs on Campus Advisories.

Social Media

Selected GW Campus Advisories posted to the university's Twitter account and Facebook status.

For additional information on emergency communications and emergency preparedness, please visit Campus Advisories.

Commencement Remarks 2009

President Knapp
Charge to the Graduates

W. Russell Ramsey
Commencement Remarks

Richard Crespin
Commencement Remarks

Rahm Emanuel
Commencement Remarks

Jeanne Narum
Commencement Remarks

John Safer
Commencement Remarks

Naomi Rapp
Commencement Remarks

Cosmin Florescu
Commencement Remarks


Reporting Emergencies

All emergencies should be reported to the GW Police Department (GWPD) as soon as possible.

GW Police


  • Foggy Bottom Campus: 202-994-6111
  • Mount Vernon Campus: 202-242-6111


  • Foggy Bottom Campus: 202-994-6110
  • Mount Vernon Campus: 202-242-6110

Program these numbers into your cell phone.

“Emergencies” constitute all imminent threats or hazards to people or property and may be any kind of incident, including accidents, injuries, alcohol or drug abuse, fire or loss of utilities in a campus building.

The GWPD has established procedures for reporting a wide range of emergency situations. During an incident, look for and try to remember details that can be used when reporting the emergency.

Guidelines for GW Community Members

If you observe a crime in progress, or observe behavior that you believe is suspicious or criminal, immediately notify the GW Police Department. Report as much information as possible including:

  • What the person(s) is doing,
  • Where it is happening,
  • Time of day,
  • Physical and clothing description of those involved,
  • The type of weapons involved, if any,
  • Vehicle description and license number, if appropriate, and
  • Last observed direction of travel.

Do not approach or attempt to apprehend the person(s) involved. Stay on the phone with the GWPD dispatcher until the first officer arrives at your location. Be sure to provide additional information as changes occur in the situation.

Important Numbers


  • Foggy Bottom Campus: 202-994-6111
  • Mount Vernon Campus: 202-242-6111


  • Foggy Bottom Campus: 202-994-6110
  • Mount Vernon Campus: 202-242-6110

911: Metropolitan Police in D.C. and Virginia can be contacted in an emergency, even if GW Police have been contacted.

GW Recorded Information Line

For updates on weather delays or incidents that may affect the GW community

  • Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses: 202-994-5050
  • Virginia Campus: 703-726-8333

Other University Resources

Washington D.C. Resources

D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

  • Emergency: 911
  • Non-emergency: 311
  • Non-emergency outside D.C.: 202-737-4404

Emergency Fire and EMS

  • D.C. Fire: 911
  • D.C. Emergency Medical Services: 911
  • Non-Emergency: 202-673-3331

Other Important Numbers

Safety Statistics

To comply with Federal statutes and to provide important information to the GW community, the university publishes annual crime statistics for its three main campuses – Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Loudon County – and its satellite locations.

Data for the report comes from the George Washington University Police Department (GWPD), the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the GW Hospital Security Department and non-police officials. Crime statistics reported to any of these sources are recorded in the calendar year the crime was reported.

An annual request for statistical information goes to all University deans, directors and department heads. The employees at the University Counseling Center also supply data to GWPD, even though they are not required by law to provide statistics for the compliance document. Members of the Sexual Assault Response Consultative (SARC) Team also inform GWPD about cases in which victims choose not to files report with the GWPD or MPD.

The final statistics are reported to the University community in the "Pride in Protection & Service" brochure (referred to as the "Pride" brochure) published by the George Washington University Police Department and posted on the GWPD Web site. Each time the information is updated, a postcard is sent to every enrolled student and current employee summarizing the contents of the "Pride" brochure and providing the GWPD Web site address where the information can be found. Members of the community can also request a printed copy of the brochure.

Safety & Security

The George Washington University campuses are situated in some of the safest areas of Washington, D.C., and its suburbs. The George Washington University Police Department (GWPD) has several safety programs and services to assist members of the GW community. All students, staff and faculty are encouraged to take responsibility for their own personal safety and the security of their belongings and property.

The George Washington University Police Department

Our department's motto, "Pride in Protection and Service," reflects the University’s commitment to work with the GW community to keep our campuses safe and secure. GWPD takes a proactive role in progressive campus policing. As the campus law enforcement agency, the George Washington University Police Department is responsible for protecting life and property, conducting crime awareness and prevention programs, defending University rules and regulations, enforcing District of Columbia laws and upholding federal statutes. It provides emergency and safety services, serving as a resource for information on emergency procedures, theft and crime prevention and campus crime statistics.

GWPD employs more than 100 uniformed personnel. All are special police officers commissioned by, or security officers licensed by, the District of Columbia government. The GWPD patrols our campuses and the neighboring community 24 hours a day, every day. The department has 15 additional staff members who work at GWPD headquarters in Woodhull House. GWPD officers cover the campus by foot, on bicycle and in vehicle patrols. They also staff fixed posts. GWPD also hires students to work as community service aides in some residence halls and academic buildings. These students check IDs and serve as extra “eyes and ears” for the GW police.

GW Safety Programs and Services:

Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG)
This is a basic emergency-response and life-support agency within the District of Columbia. EMeRG’s certified GW personnel provide quality emergency medical services to the campus.

4-Ride Escort Service and Colonial Express Shuttle Bus
GWPD coordinates two safe travel alternatives. 4-Ride is a fleet of escort vehicles that pick up and drop off students, faculty and administrators anywhere within three blocks of campus. The Colonial Express Shuttle Bus runs two routes around campus, stopping at residence halls and major campus buildings. These routes are outlined on the GWPD Web site.

Blue Light Phones
There are approximately 36 emergency phones throughout our campuses. When the button on the emergency phone is pressed, a bright light flashes atop the phone tower and the phone automatically dials the George Washington University Police Department Dispatch Center. A caller's location is immediately reported and officers are quickly dispatched.

Operation Identification
The GWPD engraves driver’s license numbers on valuables to assist in their positive identification or recovery in the event the items are lost or stolen.

Self Defense Classes
The GW Police Department offers a self-defense course that consists of basic techniques from various martial arts disciplines. Women learn to utilize their greater lower body strength, enabling them to increase their power when defending themselves.

Crime Prevention Programming
GWPD presentations to campus groups aim to educate the GW community about current crime trends and security programs and services. The programs also educate community members about ways to protect themselves from being victimized.

Commencement 2010


First Lady Michelle Obama Commencement Remarks

Commencement Photo Galleries

University Commencement

Monumental Celebration

Columbian College Graduation Celebration

Interfaith Baccalaureate

Phi Beta Kappa Induction

NROTC Commissioning Ceremony

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony

Class Day

Rowing Team Commencement


Download 2010 Commencement Photos 



GW Commencement Part 1 GW Commencement Part 2
GW Commencement Part 3 GW Commencement Part 4
Commencement Service Challenge Highlights  


Commencement 2011


Read the transcript of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Keynote Speech.

Commencement Photo Galleries

University Commencement

Interfaith Baccalaureate

NROTC Commissioning

Phi Beta Kappa

Doctoral Hooding

Senior Class Toast

Athletics Commencement


Full University Commencement


Commencement Timelapse

Michael Bloomberg


Collin Stevenson

Peggy Cooper Cafritz


William Coleman Jr.

Mark Lerner

John Snow