Commencement Statement

April 18, 2007

Statement from Stephen Joel Trachtenberg
president of The George Washington University

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has had a sobering effect on our entire nation and on college campuses in particular. Last night, our GW community came together in a heartfelt show of respect for the students, families, faculty and staff of our sister school. I was extremely proud of our students for this outpouring of support. It touched our community and it touched me.

It is now clear that commencement 2007 will be a time of both celebration and deep reflection on campuses across America as we honor our graduates while holding the Virginia Tech community in our hearts.

As you know, there has been a spirited discussion on our own campus over the past week about commencement. I would like to have us move forward in unison. To this end, I have asked my colleagues responsible for commencement weekend to try to improve and articulate our plans. Rather than providing a single keynote address, we are reviving a model used successfully in the past by which the commencement audience will receive words of wisdom from each of our five stellar honorary degree recipients, as well as our extraordinary student speaker who resumed her studies at GW after a tour of duty as a U.S. Marine in Iraq. Each, in his or her respective way, has made a difference in our world and I have no doubt you will find their words inspiring. As I have done each year for the past 18, I will deliver the charge to the graduates and together we will send you off to your own successes in life.

We hope and trust that this will be a meaningful and memorable weekend for you, filled with events and activities that bring families together in celebration of life and achievement.


Student Speaker Catherine O'Connor
[Senior in CCAS, Iraq War veteran, member, Marine Corps Reserves]
Conferring of Honorary Degrees President Trachtenberg
Wolf Blitzer,Doctor of Humane Letters
Presentation of the Candidate Jessica Denson, B.A. '07

[Wolf Blitzer is a world-class journalist who has covered the most important events affecting our lives over the last 30 years. He has distinguished himself as being among the most trusted and respected correspondents in the history of American media.]
Ralph Cicerone
, Doctor of Science honoris causa
Presentation of the Candidate Vishal Khatri, B.S. '07
[Ralph Cicerone is the president of the National Academy of Sciences, the premier science advisory organization in the country; his research was recognized on the citation for the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry]
Linda Cropp,Doctor of Public Service
Presentation of the Candidate Joseph Scovitch, M.P.A. '07
(presenter to be confirmed)

[Linda Cropp has given a lifetime of service to the District of Columbia as a former public school teacher and guidance counselor, president of the Board of Education, former member of the Council of the District of Columbia, and former Chair of the Council.]
Harvey Fineberg, Doctor of Science honoris causa
Presentation of the Candidate Yasmeen Ansari, M.D. '07

[Harvey Fineberg is the president of the Institute of Medicine, the former provost of Harvard University, former dean of the School of Public Health at Harvard, and an international expert in the field of medical decision-making.]
Lowell Weicker
, Doctor of Public Service
Presentation of the Candidate (presenter being selected)
[Lowell Weicker is a former United States Senator from and Governor of Connecticut who is well-known for following a highly principled and independent agenda while in public office.]
Charge to the Graduates President Trachtenberg

For more information about The George Washington University, visit



GW Office of Media Relations - 202-994-6460 - [email protected]



Stay Connected

Subscribe to GW’s RSS feed to receive updates and notifications about University news and events.

By E-mail
Subscribe to George Washington Today for up-to-date information on the University.