- GW Home
- About GW
- University Life
- News & Events
- Faculty And Staff
GW Secures First Lady Michelle Obama as Keynote Speaker at University's Commencement
GW Community Completes More Than 100,000 Hours of Service Ahead of May 1 Deadline
April 05, 2010
WASHINGTON—The George Washington University has crossed the 100,000-hour service challenge goal set by First Lady Michelle Obama and has secured her as the keynote Commencement speaker Sunday, May 16 on the National Mall.
“Congratulations to The George Washington University on meeting the 100,000-hour service challenge,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “GW has demonstrated an amazing and ongoing commitment to public service. I look forward to addressing graduates on May 16. You’ve earned it!”
Michelle Obama will be the third First Lady in the history of the University to speak at GW’s Commencement and will address a crowd of approximately 25,000.
Over the last seven months, more than 3,800 GW students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Trustees have tracked their time as they have helped many individuals through various community service projects throughout the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.
“When we received the challenge from the First Lady, we knew there was no question that George Washington University students, faculty and staff would rise to that very exciting opportunity. But we had no idea we would reach the goal so far in advance of the May 1st deadline,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “Thanks to Mrs. Obama, service became the focus of school spirit for the entire academic year, pulling together the entire university community in a unique way.”
Students, faculty and staff completed a variety of service projects, including painting Habitat for Humanity homes with the First Lady in September; giving a make-over to a Washington, D.C. high school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; and spent winter and spring breaks to rebuild homes in New Orleans, comfort the sick in Ecuador, and provide educational assistance to Sudanese refugees in Nashville, just to name a few. Other students and members of faculty, staff and Board of Trustees donated their time on such activities as tackling rural and urban poverty, working with a local Brownie Troop and organizing a walk-a-thon to raise funds for the homeless.
"I am extremely proud of our student body and the rest of the GW community for their contributions towards meeting Mrs. Obama's service challenge," said GW Student Association President Julie Bindelglass. "As a representative of GW students, I know that many of us have committed ourselves to making public service part of our daily lives. We are thrilled to host the First Lady at our Commencement!"
The challenge was part of GW’s overall commitment to public and community service. This year, for the third consecutive year, the University’s commitment to service was recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service and was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
"GW students have spent hours visiting seniors at Vinson Hall Retirement Community, which includes retired military and non-military seniors," said Fred Johnson, director of special events and programs for Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean, Va. "Clearly, they have graduated well beyond the service challenge. It is obvious they have become committed to the aspect of community service which has become extremely meaningful to them and to the seniors they have met with."
This past September, First Lady Michelle Obama challenged the University to complete 100,000 hours of community service, and in exchange, promised to be the University’s commencement speaker. Through GW’s Office of Community Service (OCS), students, faculty and staff logged on to VolunteerMatch to find individual service projects that met their passions and interests. This online system tracked and managed community service activity.
While the GW community has completed the challenge, students, staff and faculty will continue participating in various service activities. Community service hours will be collected until the official service challenge deadline, May 1, 2010. The total hours achieved during the service challenge will be announced at the commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 16.
In the heart of the nation's capital, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia, with two campuses in Washington, D.C. (Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon), and a third in Loudoun County, Va., as well as graduate education centers throughout the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and Hampton Roads, Va. The University offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.
MEDIA CONTACTS:Michelle Sherrard - 202-994-1423 -
Candace Smith - 202-994-3566 -