President John Garvey was quoted in a Feb. 11 Washington Business Journal article about how D.C. area university presidents view their schools' role in the development of the city. See the article below.

From: Washington Business Journal Date: Feb. 11, 2011Author: Sarah Krouse

The boom and the bust of the last decade changed Washington indelibly - and has attracted a new breed of leadership to the city's universities.

Some of D.C.'s newest university presidents represent a change in culture in their appointments alone. John Garvey is the first nonpriest to lead The Catholic University of America since 1982, and Gallaudet University's appointment of Alan Hurwitz was born of a 2006 student protest that demanded a more transparent presidential selection.

D.C. universities also have increasingly become part of the city's economic development dialogue as campuses grow and fuse with surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

How do the new presidents view their schools' role in the larger context of building and nurturing a rapidly evolving city?

We talked with four of the newest university presidents in D.C. to get the view from where they sit.

Sidney Ribeau, President, Howard University

Age: 63

Education: University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Ph.D. (1979)

Previous employer: Bowling Green State University

Sidney Ribeau came to Washington from Bowling Green State University in August 2008 and found a surprisingly strong connection between the university and the city.

"I'd come once a year to walk the Capitol halls, and I thought the Capitol was the entire city," Ribeau said. "I really didn't know much about how the universities connected to the city."

But once he arrived at Howard University, Ribeau fully grasped the school's community ties, including the university's free legal and medical services for local residents, its push to house more faculty and staff in the neighborhoods near the campus and Howard University Hospital's importance to the less-affluent community around it. He realized D.C. was not your typical university town.

"I was really pleased by the amount of community focus," Ribeau said. "It's a really rare opportunity, given the population demographics of Howard and the surrounding community."

Nestled in the LeDroit Park neighborhood that Howard birthed, the historically black college has given rise to some big-name minority business leaders - from Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One Inc., to Ben Ali, co-founder of Ben's Chili Bowl.

The city has long pinned on Howard its hopes for revitalization of LeDroit Park and the Georgia Avenue corridor, but Howard has lagged behind its peers - particularly the University of Maryland, College Park and The George Washington University - in leveraging its land to create mutually beneficial economic development opportunities.

It's been more than 15 years since the creation of the LeDroit Park Revitalization Initiative, an affordable housing partnership between Howard and Fannie Mae formed to develop 17 new townhomes and restore 28 townhomes behind the campus.

By spring, the school hopes to break ground on the long-awaited $160 million Howard Town Center project, a partnership of Howard, Castlerock Partners LLC and Avco Interests LLC. The town center is supposed to deliver 445 residential units, 27,000 square feet of space for Howard University purposes and 99,500 square feet of retail space, including an anchor grocery store.

Although the 2.2-acre project has languished in the last eight years, hitting countless zoning and political snags, Ribeau still envisions Howard Town Center as a leader in the revitalization of the neighborhood.

"My dream is to have Georgia Avenue look somewhat like U Street, with shops and stores and restaurants and vitality, with people there in the evenings," he said.

But to do that, Ribeau said he and other university leaders need a more firm seat at the table when it comes to the city's economic development plans - a suggestion he hopes new D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will embrace.

"When we're talking about economic development and the future of the city, we haven't been included in the past," Ribeau said. "We have smart people and the research capacity to create incubators and startups, and we should be involved in those discussions."

John Garvey, President, The Catholic University of America

Age: 62

Education: Harvard Law School, J.D. (1974); University of Notre Dame, A.B. (1970)

Previous employer: Boston College Law School

Catholic University of America President John Garvey said his biggest advantage in his new position is the fact that he has a wife.

The university's first nonclergy leader in two decades started in July, leaving his post as dean of Boston College's law school.

He replaces Bishop David O'Connell, known for his strong conservative beliefs and emphasis on the Catholic religion.

Garvey said not being a member of the clergy gives him a different perspective on Catholic University's leadership. Not only does having a wife provide a support system, but it also gives the father of five an understanding of what parents want their children to get out of college.

Garvey stands for a lot of the things you would expect of the leader of a major Catholic institution. For instance, he spent Martin Luther King Day on a service outing with students and the following day at the March For Life rally downtown.

But he also realizes that he is leading something more than an educational institution with religious underpinnings.

"People forget that religion itself, in addition to being a powerful spiritual force in people lives, involves millions of people and a lot of property and tax issues," Garvey said.

He takes a businesslike approach to managing the university, home to 6,768 students.

"After the federal government, our colleges and universities are the biggest businesses in town and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in construction, wages and purchases of goods," Garvey said.

In an illustration of his point, Catholic University tapped Abdo Development in 2008 for a five-block mixed-use project on its South Campus. In 2010, the project got a cash infusion from a $75 million joint venture between The Bozzuto Group of Greenbelt and Chicago-based Pritzker Realty Group LLC.

With that money, the project was able to get financing for a 2011 groundbreaking on the development, which will have 720 residential units, 45 townhouses, 83,000 square feet of retail space, a 3,000-square-foot community arts center and 15,000 square feet of art studio space.

The development will also include traffic and pedestrian improvements along Michigan Avenue NE to better connect the university to the Brookland Metro station, creating a more attractive gateway that will make people "stop and pause," Garvey says.

While businesses can pick up their headquarters and move, universities are rarely, if ever, uprooted, he notes. Even more reason to give their leaders a seat alongside the city's planners.

Steven Knapp, President, The George Washington University

Age: 59

Education: Cornell University, Ph.D. (1981); Cornell University, M.A. (1977); Yale University, B.A. (1973).

Previous employer: Johns Hopkins University

Steven Knapp, a former provost of The Johns Hopkins University, took the reins at The George Washington University in 2007, just as an economic collapse threw recent college graduates into a barren job market and imperiled university budgets.

With Washington's economy doing better than most other cities', more students are looking locally for post-graduation jobs than ever before.

"We want to know what our partners, including the business com¬munity, are seeing for the future of the city so our investment can dovetail that," said Knapp, who replaced Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. He has volunteered GW for a follow-up to the job summit Mayor Vincent Gray held in December.

Despite the economic challenges, GW pushed on with a long-planned redevelopment of its former hospital site on Washington Circle. "It was striking that it got going right as the rest of the real estate market was experiencing a good deal of stress, and we're very happy about that," Knapp said.

Boston Properties Inc. is developing the site under a ground lease with GW. The project will help fund future campus development such as the nearby conversion of a parking garage into a 500,000-square-foot science and engineering building.

The Square 54 project at 2200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW should meet a strong market when completed later this year. The project, already 73 percent leased to big-name law firms, also includes 333 apartments and retail anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store.

T. Alan Hurwitz, President, Gallaudet University

Age: 69

Education: University of Rochester, Ed.D. (1980); St. Louis University, M.S. (1970); Washington University, B.S. (1965).

Previous employer: Rochester Institute of Technology

Leading the only liberal arts university for the deaf presents T. Alan Hurwitz with some challenges as he tries to weave Gallaudet University's 1,574 students into the surrounding Ward 5 community.

Hurwitz, like most university presidents, is looking for ways to better match his students' skills to the jobs available, and he sees a niche for Gallaudet students in health care.

In 2010, Gallaudet helped form a national task force that focuses on jobs for the deaf and hard of hearing. The task force touted medical school, nursing and other health care options as viable career paths.

There is also opportunity in the expanding Americans with Disabilities Act, Hurwitz said in an e-mail interview. "We are realizing there is a 'crisis of capacity' between the increasing demand for interpreting services and the number of qualified professionals able to provide those services," Hurwitz wrote.

Gallaudet hopes to encourage its students to leverage those opportunities through D.C. internships and jobs that communications technology has made increasingly accessible to the deaf community, he said.

Hurwitz replaced Robert Davila, who took the role in January 2007 after controversy erupted over the board of directors' previous choice for president, Jane Fernandes.

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