American University Plans Week of Events to Celebrate Presidential Inauguration of Cornelius M. Kerwin

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AU Community and friends to gather Feb. 4 – 8 to honor school’s first alum to become president.

Inaugural activities to celebrate the installation of Cornelius M. Kerwin as the 14th president of American University will be held Feb. 4 – 8 with a number of events planned throughout the week in conjunction with this symbolic and celebratory occasion.

The inauguration ceremony—the official investiture of president—will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, in Bender Arena. A delegation of faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and friends will provide tributes through song, words and presentations. Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Abramson will formally install Kerwin as AU’s newest president. A campus-wide reception will follow in the Mary Graydon Center.

That same evening, the President’s Inaugural Celebration and Founder’s Day Ball will be held at the Embassy of Italy in an evening-long event that combines the inaugural celebration with the annual Founder’s Day formal hosted by the AU Student Government. The event will run from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

In addition to the inauguration ceremony, from February 4 – 7 a series of events showcasing the university’s commitment to scholarship, professional contributions, and creativity; teaching & learning; service; and alumni will be held. Highlights of the week include a discussion on the role of the academic as a public intellectual; a discussion on how music shapes our lives, followed by a visual and performing arts open house in the Katzen Arts Center showcasing student and faculty talent; a workshop with prominent university faculty discussing great teaching; a breakfast to celebrate AU’s involvement and support of D.C. Schools; a dessert reception for AU volunteers and community partners involved in AU’s D.C. Schools service outreach and hosted by Mrs. Ann Kerwin; and a discussion about university life from 1967 – 1971 and how the era shaped AU students -- featuring President Kerwin (class of 1971), who was a student himself at AU during this time.

Most events throughout the week are free and open to the public. Tickets are required for Friday’s inauguration ceremony and ball and the Embassy of Italy. A full listing of events is available on the presidential inauguration Web site at:

Following a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees on July 20, 2007, Kerwin became AU’s fourteenth president on September 1, 2007, leading an institution more than 11,000 students, some 2,000 teaching faculty, and more than 2,000 full-time staff in the nation’s capital.

As president, Kerwin oversees AU’s $400 million budget and $400 million endowment; is leading the $200 million AnewAU campaign toward its conclusion; and is managing major facilities improvements that will complete a program of new or refurbished homes for all six of AU’s schools and colleges. He also has launched AU’s next strategic plan to chart the university’s course in the twenty-first century and is working with the Board of Trustees to implement their model governance structure based on transparency, openness and accountability.

Kerwin’s experience serving as acting, then interim, president for the past two years—coupled with his deep personal ties to AU—give him a unique understanding of the institution’s aspirations, accomplishments and history. He graduated from AU in 1971 with a BA in political science (followed by an MA from the University of Rhode Island in 1973 and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1978). Kerwin’s wife, Ann (BA/1971), and eldest son, Michael (BA/2005), are also AU graduates (son, Alex, graduated from Tufts University).

Professionally, Kerwin has been affiliated with AU since 1975 when he became an assistant professor of political science. He holds a faculty appointment in the School of Public Affairs’ Department of Public Administration and was dean of the School of Public Affairs from 1988 to 1997, then provost from 1997 to 2005. As the chief academic officer, he led 475 full-time teaching faculty and managed a portfolio that included admissions; financial aid; institutional research and assessment; the registrar’s office; and other offices, including the library and the Washington semester, general education, and honors programs.

A nationally recognized specialist and published author in public policy and the regulatory process, Kerwin is actively engaged in research and regularly teaches courses in administrative process, policy implementation, and American government. He also founded AU’s Center for the Study of Rulemaking.

Kerwin is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration; a former president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration; and founding chair of the Section on Public Law and Administration of the American Society for Public Administration. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha and Pi Alpha Alpha national honor societies for the fields of political science and public administration.

American University is a leader in global education, with a diverse student body of more than 11,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students from some 140 nations enrolled in its six schools and colleges. It has built a solid academic reputation based on its capacity as a national and international university to turn ideas into action, action into service by emphasizing the arts and sciences, then connecting them to the issues of contemporary public affairs writ large, and notably in the areas of government, communication, business, law, and international service.

Media interested in attending any of the inaugural week events, please contact AU’s Media Relations Office at 202-885-5950. A logistics media advisory for the ceremony is forthcoming.

Contact: Maralee Csellar, 202-885-5952 or csellar @


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