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American University
Motto Pro deo et patria
(For God and Country)
Established February 24, 1893
Type Private
Endowment $ 372 million [1]
President Cornelius M. Kerwin
Provost Scott A. Bass
Faculty 600 full time, 420 adjunct
Undergraduates 6,028
Postgraduates 3,912 (1,398 law)
Location United States Washington, D.C.
Campus Urban 84 acre (34 ha)
Study Abroad 470 programs
Colors AU Red and AU Blue
Mascot Eagle (Clawed)
Athletics Eagles
Affiliations APSIA; NCAA Division I, Patriot League; IAMSCU; CUWMA; MAISA
For other universities known as American University, see American University (disambiguation).

American University (AU) is a private United Methodist-affiliated research university in Washington, D.C. The main campus is located at the intersection of Nebraska and Massachusetts Avenues at Ward Circle, straddling the Spring Valley, Wesley Heights, and American University Park neighborhoods of Northwest. Roughly 6,000 undergraduate students and 3,912 graduate students are currently enrolled.[2] Though there is sometimes confusion, American University is separate from most "American Universities" around the world.

It is served by the Tenleytown-AU station on the Washington Metro subway line, which is located roughly one mile from the main campus in the neighborhood of Tenleytown. AU is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, allowing students to enroll in courses offered by other member institutions and students at other member institutions to enroll in courses at AU. A member of the Division I Patriot League, its sports teams compete as the American University Eagles.



The American University


An inspiration for the founding of American University was a letter written by George Washington in which he expressed a desire for a "national university" to be located in the nation's capital. The university was established in the District of Columbia by an Act of Congress on February 24, 1893, primarily due to the efforts of Methodist Bishop John Fletcher Hurst. It, like most of the universities in the District of Columbia (Georgetown University, The George Washington University, Howard University, Gallaudet University, and The Catholic University of America,[3] among others), was chartered by an act of Congress, and thus has the seal of Congress appear on its diplomas. Bishop Hurst and his colleagues were concerned with building an institution that would meld the strengths of the best German universities with the strengths of the existing university system in America. As their plans developed during the early years, they began to conceive of American University as an institution that would be:

  • A privately supported university financed principally by the membership of the churches, particularly the Methodist Episcopal Church, which had been the founders of many of the colleges and universities in the early years of American history.
  • An internationally minded institution where scholars from across the nation and from throughout the world would gather to dedicate their combined efforts to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
  • A center of higher education and research activities that, while independent of the government, would draw freely on the intellectual and scientific resources of the Nation's Capital to supplement and to extend its own capabilities.
  • An institution that would contribute to the general cultural life and development of the capital in much the same manner that state-supported universities in other world capitals contributed to their communities.


After more than three decades devoted principally to securing financial support, the university was officially dedicated on May 15, 1914. The first instruction began on October 6 of that year, when 28 students were enrolled (19 of them graduate students, nine of them special students who were not candidates for a degree). The First Commencement, at which no degrees were awarded, was held on June 2, 1915. The Second Annual Commencement was held on June 2, 1916 where the first degrees (one master's degree and two doctor's degrees) were awarded.

Birthplace of Army Chemical Corps

Shortly after these early commencement ceremonies, classes were interrupted by war. During World War I, the university allowed the U.S. military to use some of its grounds for testing. In 1917, the U.S. military divided American University into two segments, Camp American University and Camp Leach. Camp American University became the birthplace of the United States' chemical weapons program, and chemical weapons were tested on the grounds; this required a major cleanup effort in the 1990s. Camp Leach was home to advanced research, development and testing of modern camouflage techniques. As of 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers is still removing ordnance including mustard gas and mortar shells.

During the next ten years, instruction was offered at the graduate level only, in accordance with the original plan of the founders. In the fall of 1925, the College of Liberal Arts (subsequently named the College of Arts and Sciences) was established. Since that date, the University has offered both undergraduate and graduate degrees and programs. In 1934, the School of Public Affairs was founded.[4]

During World War II, the campus again offered its services to the U.S. government and became home to the U.S. Navy Bomb Disposal School and a WAVE barracks. For AU's role in these wartime efforts, the Victory ship SS American Victory was named in honor of the university.


President John F. Kennedy delivers the commencement address at American University, June 10, 1963

The present structure of the university began to emerge in 1949. The Washington College of Law became part of the University in that year, having begun in 1896 as the first coeducational institution for the professional study of law in the District of Columbia. Shortly thereafter, three departments were reorganized as schools: the School of Business Administration in 1955 (subsequently named the Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod College of Business Administration and in 1999 renamed the Kogod School of Business); the School of Government and Public Administration in 1957; and the School of International Service in 1958.

In the early 1960s, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency operated a think tank under the guise of Operation Camelot at American University. The government abandoned the think tank after the operation came to public attention. AU's political intertwinement was furthered by President John F. Kennedy's Spring 1963 commencement address.[5] In the speech, Kennedy called on the Soviet Union to work with the United States to achieve a nuclear test ban treaty and help reduce the considerable international tensions and the specter of nuclear war during that juncture of the Cold War.

From 1965 to 1977, the College of Continuing Education existed as a degree-granting college with responsibility for on- and off-campus adult education programs. The Lucy Webb Hayes School of Nursing provided undergraduate study in Nursing from 1965 until 1988. In 1972, the School of Government and Public Administration, the School of International Service, the Center for Technology and Administration, and the Center for the Administration of Justice (subsequently named the School of Justice) were incorporated into the College of Public and International Affairs.

In October 1984, President Richard Berendzen announced that the University would purchase the Immaculata Campus in 1986 to help alleviate space problems. This investment would later become the Tenley Campus.

In 1986, construction on the Adnan Khashoggi Sports and Convocation Center began. Financed with $5 million from and named for Saudi Arabian Trustee Adnan Khashoggi, the building was intended to update athletics facilities and provide a new arena, as well as a parking garage and office space for administrative services. Costing an estimated $19 million, the building represented the largest construction project to date, but met protest by both faculty and students to the University's use of Khashoggi's name on the building due to his involvement in international arms trade[6].

In 1988, the College of Public and International Affairs was reorganized to create two free-standing schools: the School of International Service and the School of Public Affairs, incorporating the School of Government and Public Administration and the School of Justice. That same year, construction on the Adnan Khashoggi Sports Center completed while the Iran-Contra Affair controversy was at its height although his name was not removed from the building until after Khashoggi defaulted on his donation obligation in the mid to late 90's.


In 1991, Richard E. Berendzen stepped down as President after admitting to making obscene phone calls. He sought immediate medical treatment and remained a full-time member of the American University faculty until his retirement in 2006.

The American University flag.

Berendzen was succeeded by Joseph Duffy, who left after one year to become the head of the United States Information Agency under President Clinton.

The School of Communication became independent from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1993.

In 1997 American University of Sharjah, the only coeducational, liberal arts university in the United Arab Emirates, signed a two year contract with AU to provide academic management, a contract which has since been extended multiple times through August 2009. A team of senior AU administrators relocated to Sharjah to assist in the establishment of the university and guide it through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation process.

In 2003, American launched the largest fund raising campaign in its history. The program, ANewAU[7], has a goal of raising $200 million dollars. As of October, 2009, the University has raised $189.6 million dollars. When the campaign is completed, the University's website states that it "will help to attract and retain the finest faculty, increase scholarship support, create and endow research and policy centers, ensure state-of-the-art resources in all of our schools and colleges, expand global programs, and secure the long-term financial health of the university by boosting the endowment."[8]

In the fall of 2005, the much anticipated Katzen Arts Center opened.

Benjamin Ladner was suspended from his position as president of the university on August 24, 2005, pending an investigation into possible misuse of university funds for his personal expenses. University faculty passed votes of no confidence in President Ladner on September 26 [9] . On October 10, 2005, the Board of Trustees of American University decided that Ladner would not return to American University as its president.[10] Dr. Cornelius M. Kerwin, a long-time AU administrator, served as interim president and was appointed to the position permanently on September 1, 2007, after two outsiders declined an offer from the Board of Trustees.[11]. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education,[12], Ladner received a total compensation of $4,270,665 in his final year of service, the second highest of any university president in the United States.

Ground was broken for the new School of International Service building on November 14, 2007. A speech was given by Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI). Construction began in early April 2008, and is expected to last for two years.


Aerial view of main campus
Hurst Hall, Department of Biology and Environmental Studies

American University has two non-contiguous campuses used for academics and student housing: the main campus on Massachusetts Avenue, and the Tenley Campus on Nebraska Avenue. An additional facility houses the Washington College of Law, located half a mile northwest of the main campus on Massachusetts Avenue. Additionally, AU owns several other buildings in the Tenleytown and Spring Valley areas.

Main campus

The first design for campus was done by Frederick Law Olmsted but was significantly modified over time due to financial constraints. The campus occupies 84 acres (340,000 m²) adjacent to Ward Circle, the intersection of Nebraska and Massachusetts Avenues. AU's campus is predominantly surrounded by the affluent residential neighborhoods characteristic of the Northwest Quadrant of Washington, D.C. Highlights of the campus include a main quadrangle surrounded by academic buildings, seven residential halls, a 5,000-seat arena, and an outdoor amphitheatre. The campus has been designated a public garden and arboretum by the American Public Garden Association, with many foreign and exotic plants and trees dotting the landscape.[13]

School of Public Affairs

Major buildings

  • University (Bender) Library, which holds over a million books
  • Hurst Hall, first building of the university, ground broken in 1896 for what was to be the College of History. The architects were Van Brunt & Howe. Now home to departments of Biology and Environmental Science, the University Honors Program, and the Center for Teaching Excellence.
  • Mary Graydon Center, home to student organization offices, the main dining facilities, and the School of Communication.
  • Katzen Arts Center, Provided for by a monetary gift from Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen, opened in 2005 and is now home to the Department of Performing Arts, the American University Museum, and other Academic Departments.
  • Abbey Joel Butler Pavilion, holds the campus store, the Office of Campus Life, the Career Center, and meeting spaces.
  • Sports Center: Bender Arena, Reeves Aquatic Center, Jacobs Fitness Center (see Athletics below)
  • School of International Service, ground broken by President Dwight Eisenhower. A new building is under construction as of March 3, 2008.
A view of a path along American University's Eric Friedheim Quadrangle.
  • McKinley Building, cornerstone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt. Currently the home of the departments of Computer Science, Audio Technology, and Physics. Slated to become the new home to the School of Communication.
  • Battelle-Tompkins Building, the university library until 1977 and now home to the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Ward Circle Building, the largest classroom building on campus, built in 1968 as a home for the School of Government and Public Administration (now the School of Public Affairs).
  • Kay Spiritual Life Center, built in 1963, a multi-denominational place of worship, home to the University Chaplains and is used for speeches and performances.
  • Kogod School of Business, formerly known as the Myers-Hutchins Building, and previous home to the Washington College of Law. Construction finished in January 2009 to annex it to the now empty Experimental Theater and Butler Instructional Center.

Residence halls

The Woods-Brown Amphitheatre.

Residence halls on main campus are divided into two complexes based on geographic location: North Complex and the South Complex.

  • North Complex: Hughes, McDowell and Leonard Halls
    • Nebraska Hall: located across Massachusetts Avenue from main campus, near the Katzen Arts Center. It features suite-style residences opened in August 2007.
  • South Complex: Letts, Anderson and Centennial Halls

Most rooms house two students, but in periods of high demand, some rooms are converted into triples.

Tenley Campus

Capital Hall, Tenley Campus, American University

Formerly the Immaculata School, Tenley Campus is located half a mile east of the main campus, and was purchased by American University in 1987 specifically for the Washington Semester program. During the academic year, Tenley Campus is home to the Washington Semester Program students, though students enrolled at AU can also elect to live there. During the summer, the residence halls are used to house summer interns. Administratively, Tenley Campus is home to the main offices of the Washington Semester Program, the Office of Development, University Marketing, University Publications, and Media Relations

Residence Halls:

  • Capital Hall: housing 170 students, Capital Hall is the oldest and most ornate of the Tenley Campus buildings. It also contains a fitness center and the stained glass chapel that is used for dance and music recitals.
  • Congressional Hall: houses 156 students and contains the central reception desk for the Tenley Campus.
  • Federal Hall: houses 107 students and contains the Mail Room and Tenley Cafe, the Tenley Campus cafeteria

Administrative Buildings and Other Facilities:

  • Dunblane House: a small administrative and classroom building.
  • Constitution Building: an administrative building.
  • A sports field used for intramural sport matches.

Proposed renovations and expansions

Starting in 2006, American University has actively sought to expand and rejuvenate their campus. The proposed renovations and additions to the campus with their expected competition dates are:[14][15]

Fall 2006:

  • Renovating the Watkins Art Building to add classrooms and administrative space (Complete).

Fall 2007:

  • Renovating the first floor of the Mary Graydon Center which will help in efficiently using the space already available (complete) [16]
  • Renovating Nebraska Hall, which currently houses academic classrooms and administrative office space, to create a new suite-style residence hall for 115 upperclassmen. (complete)
  • More Watkins Building Renovation-renovating and updating this building (complete) [2]

January 2009: [3]

February 2009: [5]

  • Add a canopy over a walkway between the Mary Graydon Center and the Batelle-Tomkins building (complete) [6]

February 2010: [7]

  • Repair the canopy over the walkway between the Mary Graydon Center and the Batelle-Tomkins building, which was severely damaged in the Second North American blizzard of 2010. (in progress)

March 2010: [8]

  • Renovating the old Kreeger Music Building to house the Department of Economics (in progress).

May 2010: [9]

  • Constructing a new, larger building for the School of International Service, complete with three levels of underground parking and an environmentally-friendly design that meets LEED's Gold Standard [10](in progress). Excavation of the construction site began late March 2008. (in progress) [11]

August 2010: [12]

  • The Roper building will be converted to student housing with construction beginning in March 2010 and ready for occupancy in August 2010.

Fall 2011: [13]

  • The old SIS building will be renovated to house administrative and classroom space for parts of the School of Education, Teaching, and Health, and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, giving these departments a presence on the Friedheim Quadrangle (in planning stages).

To Be Announced:


University rankings (overall)

USNWR National University[17] 83rd
WM National University[19] 62nd[18]
American University Museum at the Katzen Center.

American University enrolls about 1,500 freshmen each year,[20][21] with an average GPA of 3.8 and SAT of 1266.[22]. The average class size is 23 and the student-faculty ratio is 14:1.[20] AU is ranked 83rd among "national universities" by US News & World Report's college and university rankings guide[23], and is one of the 270 universities that house a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest honor society.

In 2008, American University was named the most politically active school in the nation in The Princeton Review's annual survey of college students.[24]. In 2006, the Fiske Guide to Colleges ranked AU as a "Best Buy" college for the quality of academic offerings in relation to the cost of attendance. For two years in a row, American University has had more students chosen to receive Presidential Management Fellowships than any other college or university in the country. In spring 2006, 34 graduate and law students were chosen for the honor.[25]

The Kogod School of Business, the first school of business in Washington, was named by the Wall Street Journal and Business Week magazine as one of the top business schools in the country. "Kogod is positioning itself squarely in the upper echelons of America's finest business schools," according to the Princeton Review.[26] The Wall Street Journal ranked the Kogod School of Business in its 2004 “Top 50 MBA Programs.”[27] "On September 16, 2007 the Wall Street Journal announced their 2007 graduate rankings, and the Kogod School of Business was ranked 36 out of the top 51." [28] The School of International Service (SIS) is recognized as the largest of its kind in the U.S. Among The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) schools, AU’s School of International Service has the largest number of minority students and female students and is ranked 6th among APSIA schools in numbers of international students.[25] A review in Foreign Policy Magazine ranked the school 8th in the country for preparing future foreign policy professionals and 25th for academic careers. SIS’s undergraduate programs earned a spot at number 11, and its graduate programs were ranked number 8.[29] Because the field of international relations is not evaluated by U.S. News & World Report, the College of William and Mary recently published the results of their survey, which ranked the AU international relations master’s degree in the top 10 in the United States and the doctoral degree in the top 25.[25] The School of Communication is among the top 25 in the nation, and it graduates the third largest number of communication professionals among U.S. colleges and universities.[25] The School of Public Affairs is ranked among the top 15 programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Washington College of Law’s clinical program ranks second in the nation, its international law program is ranked 6th in the nation and the school overall ranks among the top 50 U.S. law schools according to U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges.[25]

Between McKinley and the Mary Graydon Center.

American University is especially known for promoting international understanding.[30] This is reflected in the diverse student body who is from more than 150 countries, the university’s course offerings, the faculty's research, and from the regular presence of world leaders on its campus.[30] American University has the 12th largest number of graduates in current Peace Corps service (34), and ranks fourth in the number of Peace Corps volunteers as a percentage of the total undergraduate population.[31]

American University has earned a reputation among the best schools in the nation for international relations, government and political science, as well as a hub for arts in Washington, D.C. The school has a long history of partnership with the Washington metropolitan area, beginning with its charter by the U.S. Congress in 1893. The University takes its responsibility to the community very seriously. In 2001, AU's economic impact on the District of Columbia totaled more than $600 million.[30] WAMU, American’s National Public Radio Station, is one of the top 5 NPR stations in the country.[30] "Over 80% of AU undergraduate students and 60% of graduate students complete an internship or other experiential education experience by graduation.... Fifty-seven percent of AU’s undergraduate and 40% of graduate students participate in significant community service in the local community by graduation," according to their website.[30]

Centers, institutes and special programs

See also: Washington College of Law Programs & Centers

  • Center for North American Studies
  • Center for the Study of Rulemaking
  • Center for Social Media
  • Council on Comparative Studies (CCS)
  • Global Intellectual Property Project (GLIPP)
  • Institute for Strategic Communication for Nonprofits
  • Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (ISPPI)
  • Intercultural Management Institute
  • Justice Programs Office
  • Katzen Arts Center
  • Key Executive Program
  • Kogod's Center for IT & Global Economy
  • National Center for Health and Fitness
  • Washington Internship for Native Students (WINS)
  • Washington Semester Program
  • Women & Politics Institute[32]

Notable alumni and staff

Academic organization

Battelle-Tompkins, College of Arts and Sciences

The university is composed of six divisions, referred to as colleges or schools, which house its academic programs: College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Kogod School of Business (KSB), School of Communication (SOC), School of International Service (SIS), School of Public Affairs (SPA) and Washington College of Law (WCL). With the exception of WCL, undergraduate and graduate courses are housed within the same division, although organized into different programs.

Students who do not declare into a specific school are sorted into CAS, which combine with its variety of academic programs to make it the largest division, followed by SIS, SPA, WCL, KSB and SOC.

American University is also home to a unique program known as the Washington Semester Program. This program partners with institutions around the world to bring students to AU for a semester. The program operates independently from, but in conjunction with, the other academic units. The program combines two seminar courses on three days a week with a two day per week internship that gives students a unique look at Washington, DC. The program is unique in that the courses are not typical lecture courses; instead, speakers from various sectors of a particular field are invited to address the class, often from different perspectives.[33]

Library system

American University Library
Established 1926 as Battelle Library
Location Washington, DC
Branches 6 (including the main library)
Size 1,035,000 books
Access and use
Circulation 268,500
Population served 2,000 per day
Other information
Director Bill Mayer
Staff 80 (full-time)
The Jack I. and Dorothy G. Bender Library and Learning Resources Center sits at the top of the Eric Friedheim Quadrangle.

The American University Library system consists of the main library and five branches and special collections: the University Archives, Curriculum Materials Center, Media Services, GLBTA Resource Center Library (located in the Mary Graydon Center), and the Music Library (located in the Katzen Arts Center). It is part of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), which includes numerous schools from the region that pool their resources to provide Interlibrary Loan (ILL) for their students respectively. The WRL Consortium also includes The Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Marymount University, and University of the District of Columbia. The Pence Law Library, part of the Washington College of Law, operates separately from the main library system.

As of 2006, American University's Library contains over one million volumes, nearly 3,000 print periodicals, over 11,000 films and videos (which is rapidly increasing), well over one million microform materials, nearly 37,000 sound recordings, over 13,000 musical scores, 65 newspaper subscriptions, and more than 21,000 electronic journals. On average, the library attracts roughly 2,000 patrons each day. It circulates nearly 300,000 materials per year, which is impressive given the size of the university, and almost 50,000 reference questions are asked each year.[34]

Because American University is one of the most wireless campuses in the country (see “Technology” below), students can connect their laptops, PDAs or cell phones to the Internet from anywhere in the library. The library also has iPods loaded with news podcasts, and laptops freely available to be loaned out for library use. AU recently succeeded in digitizing the University Archive’s photographs and print collection.[35]

Campus life


AU has more than 220 recognized organizations on campus consisting of a wide variety of political, social and academic groups.

The Kennedy Political Union, a part of the Student Government, has been AU's student-run and student-funded speakers bureau charged with providing quality political speakers since the 1968-1969 academic year.

The Veterans of American University, a part of Student Activities, provides an unprecedented level of support for military veterans transitioning from military to student life.

Student media

Composed of independent and fee-funded bodies, AU student media covers a number of mediums. Bodies include:

Student Media Board organizations

  • American Literary, bi-semester literary magazine
  • Am Word, student-run online and print news magazine
  • ATV (American Television), closed circuit student programs
  • AWOL (American Way of Life), newly formed student-run political and social progressive magazine
  • Clocks and Clouds, annual undergraduate student research journal
  • The Talon, yearbook (formerly Aucola)[36]
  • WVAU, radio station staffed entirely by American University students from its studio in the Mary Graydon Center. Successor of WAMC, WAMU, and WVAU-FM and AM. Before moving to an internet-only radio station it was available only on campus via carrier current AM and campus cable TV.[37]

Other media organizations

  • The Eagle, twice weekly student newspaper publishing since 1925.
  • American Observer, online news magazine covering Washington metro and campus activities and federal government
  • The Right Wing, a publication of the American University College Republicans
  • AU Daily Jolt, online community
  • The Journal of International Service, the graduate academic journal for the School of International Service[14]
  • The Public Purpose: An Interdisciplinary Journal, published annually by the American University School of Public Affairs Graduate Council.
  • Vitruvian Perspectives: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Scholars, published by the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Council
  • American Way of Life (AWOL), student-run political and cultural progressive magazine.
  • Folio, a leading literary magazine, is based at American University.
  • "AmWord," a monthly magazine written and published by AU students that covers issues pertaining to culture, the arts, international issues and politics.

Student governments

Students at American University are represented by four governing bodies:

  • Student Government (SG) - undergraduate students
  • Graduate Leadership Council (GLC) - graduate students
  • Student Bar Association (SBA) - law students
  • Residence Hall Association (RHA) - both undergraduate and graduate students living in University housing (although RHA primarily consists of undergraduate students)

Greek life

There are a Panhellenic Association (PHA), Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) at American University.[38]


American University has recently established an Environmental Issues Project Team to make recommendations to the administration about how to fulfill the University community's responsibility to protect the environment. The Team also works to increase environmental awareness on campus.[39] Student environmental activism has grown into a major presence on American's campus. The student environmental group, EcoSense, works with regional and national organizations such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Campus Climate Challenge, Energy Action Network, Step it Up!, DC Woodlands, Power Shift, and the DC Youth Environmental Alliance.[40] An environmental science class at American conducted a study from February to April 2009 to measure the amount of food waste avoided by eliminating trays from one of the college's dining halls. The class found that trayless dinners resulted in 47.1% less solid waste than dinners during which trays were used, spurring a student-driven campaign to go trayless across campus.[41] The University's overall grade on the College Sustainability Report Card improved dramatically between 2008 and 2009 from a "D+" to a "B-", demonstrating the University's commitment to environmental responsibility.[42]


American Eagles logo

A member of the Patriot League, AU is home to a wide variety of athletics, including men's and women’s basketball, soccer, cross-country, swimming & diving, track, women's volleyball, field hockey, and lacrosse, along with men's wrestling, not to mention several club sports such as rugby (, rowing ( [15]), and field hockey ( Bender Arena, a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility, hosts many of American’s athletic competitions. Bender Arena officially opened its doors on January 23, 1988, when AU's women's basketball team hosted James Madison University. Located at the center of AU’s main campus, it features several amenities:

  • William I Jacobs Fitness Center
  • 25-yard (23 m), eight-lane pool and facilities of Reeves Aquatic Center
  • Six-store mini-mall
  • Campus bookstore
  • 470-car, seven-level parking structure

Reeves Field, home to AU’s soccer team, is one of the premier soccer fields in Washington. Reeves Field earned the 2002 College Soccer Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association, hosted its fifth NCAA Tournament game, and served as the training site for the Uruguayan National Soccer team. FC Barcelona and Blackburn used Reeves Field as a training facility. In the summer of 2000, AU served as the practice site for Newcastle United, one of England's premier professional soccer clubs. Major League Soccer's D.C. United, Miami Fusion and San Jose Earthquakes have also practiced at AU. National teams from the U.S., Bolivia and Portugal trained at Reeves in 1996 in preparation for Summer Olympic games held at RFK Stadium.

The American University

Reeves Field also features a six-lane track to accommodate the track and field programs at AU and functions as a multi-purpose event site. During his term as Vice President, George H. W. Bush regularly traveled in the morning from his home at the U.S. Naval Observatory, located about two miles (3 km) from American University, to run the track at Reeves Field.

AU’s nationally ranked field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams play on the field at the Jacobs Recreational Complex, which also features a softball diamond and two outdoor sand volleyball courts. AU's field hockey team earned the right to host the 2005 Patriot League Tournament, where American defeated Lehigh University 7-0 in the semifinals before capturing the league crown for the third straight year by downing Holy Cross 4-2 in the Championship Game.

American University features seven outdoor tennis courts for the use of the intercollegiate tennis teams as well as the University community. Two outdoor basketball courts complete the outdoor recreational facility located next to Reeves Field and behind Bender Arena. AU has hosted three of the last four tennis team championships since joining the Patriot League, with the men's team winning back-to-back titles on the AU hardcourts and setting Patriot League Championship attendance records each year. The women's team last captured the Patriot League title in 2002. Both tennis teams have since been cut from the athletics program.

In 2007, AU Junior Josh Glenn won the NCAA Division I National Wrestling Title for 197 lb (89 kg). This was the first time since 1966 that an AU athlete won a national championship.

On March 14, 2008, AU earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in men's basketball by defeating Colgate University in the Patriot League Championship Game. However, AU lost its first-round NCAA tournament game against the University of Tennessee. On March 13, 2009 AU's men's basketball team repeated as Patriot League Champion by defeating Holy Cross 73-57, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. They ultimately lost to Villanova University in the first round on March 19, 2009 with a final score of 80-67.

For the spring semester of 2009, AU men's swimming and diving team posted a 3.54 GPA, the highest team grade-point average of all Division I swimming and diving programs according to the Collegiate Swim Coaches Association of American (CSCAA)[43].


Fight song

All hail the mighty AU Eagles!
Where there's a fight, we'll see it through!
You can be sure we'll be triumphant,
When we wear red, white and blue!
All hail the mighty AU Eagles!
We'll conquer all adversity!
So let's all join in and give a yell for AU and victory!![44]

Alma mater

Tomorrows pass so soon behind us
Into shadows of the past --
So the years will often find us,
Calling days that flew so fast.

Come, come, days that we treasure,
We live in you --
We Yearn now for the pleasure
At college we knew;
Friendships will always bind us;
In youth we live, for mem'ries remind us
Of Red, White, and Blue --
Come, days fullest in measure
Of our A. U.[44]

AU abroad

AU offers one of the most comprehensive and renowned study abroad programs in the United States. Open to both AU Students as well as students from other American universities, students can choose to participate in a number of diverse programs around the globe. Utilizing partner institutions as well as AU-operated programs abroad, students can take courses and/or intern in different 100 study abroad programs. Additionally, students may arrange to study at a non-partnered or hosted institution abroad through AU Abroad. Programs are offered by semester, year or summer. More than 850 AU students annually study abroad on programs offered by AU Abroad and other areas within the University.[45] Over 60% of all AU students will have a study abroad experience before they graduate.

Academic partnerships

Public radio broadcasts

American University also operates a public radio station, WAMU, broadcasting at 88.5 MHz on the FM band. The commercial-free station is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International. The station began broadcasting as the student radio station, but developed into a professionally staffed station when the administration spun off the student radio station. Students may still hold internships. Original programming includes The Diane Rehm Show and The Kojo Nnamdi Show. The student-run radio station's callsign is WVAU, and is an internet-only station.


AU was included as one of the top 50 "wired campuses" in the United States by a 1997 Yahoo! survey. Since adding a campus-wide advanced wireless broadband network in 2001, AU has been classified as one of the most "unwired" campuses in the U.S. by Intel[46]. Recently, AU has expanded its wireless presence by teaming with T-Mobile to first convert AU into the first HotSpot campus in 2004 and then again in 2005 when the Kogod School of Business became the first business school to integrate RSS data services with BlackBerry devices distributed to all graduate business students. Shortly after implementing RSS services, the university began providing podcasts for on-demand educational multimedia, such as lectures, playable on such programs as iTunes and compatible MP3 players as Apple's iPod. With the release of video-enabled iPods in 2005, many podcasts will now also feature audio and video playback.

In 2005 AU became one of several in the country to provide students in campus housing with access to free and legal downloadable movie and music content via the Ruckus Network and later Napster. As of Fall 2008, Napster service was no longer provided by American University.

The University Library also launched a program whereby its Media Services Department is converting films to digital format for exclusive use by faculty in teaching their coursework for streaming media content.

Other facts

  • American University was recognized by the Princeton Review as the #1 Most Politically Active Campus in the United States twice in the past three years. They currently hold the title on the 2009 list.[47]
  • American University is among the top universities producing Peace Corps volunteers in the country. The school was most recently ranked #7.[48]
  • AU regularly makes the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.[49] Indeed, 57% of AU’s undergraduate and 40% of graduate students participate in significant community service in the local community by graduation [50]
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals voted American University the most vegetarian-friendly campus in the United States .[51]
  • In 2006, The Advocate ranked American University among the nation's top 20 schools for LGBT students, earning the magazine's highest rating, 19 points out of 20.[52]
  • American University has a dry dorms policy.
  • In 2005, the University Senate of The United Methodist Church reaffirmed and renewed AU's United Methodist affiliation.
  • Ten U.S. presidents have either served on the AU Board of Trustees or spoken on campus.
  • AU’s School of Communication trained the cast and crew of MTV’s Road Rules and The Real World in public speaking.
  • Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, laid out AU's original campus design, though the design has been modified significantly over time.
  • A number of television shows and films have references to AU. The X-FilesAgent Scully found she had an alien virus as a result of research that had been done in AU’s Paleoclimatology Lab in the fall 1997 season premiere. No such laboratory exists at AU.
  • In the film Eulogy, Ray Romano plays an incompetent attorney that sports an American University sweatshirt.
  • During a 2000 episode of The District, it is reported to the Metropolitan Police Chief during an overnight crime briefing that the AU mascot, fictitiously named Otis, is missing.
  • The Fox television series Bones, produced by an AU alum, features many references to American University. The series' recording studio in Hollywood features a full-scale replica of the Ward 2 lecture-hall where lectures are presented by one of the series' main characters who, in the series, is a part-time AU professor.
  • For an undercover assignment, Tony DiNozzo, a character in the CBS television series NCIS, assumes the cover of an American University film studies professor.

External links

Coordinates: 38°56′13″N 77°05′13″W / 38.9370554°N 77.0869224°W / 38.9370554; -77.0869224


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