At 12:30, President Shaun called the meeting to order. Phones were silenced, though there were a couple of incidents of ringing phones during the meeting.  American members pledged allegiance to the flag.

Words of inspiration came from Heather Jaffan, who talked about the one degree of difference that changes simmering water to boiling water, and how Rotarians can be the agent of dramatic change.

Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians:

  • Sean N. Gough, Director, Corporate and Community Affairs, Friendship Public Charter Schools, guest of Donald Hense
  • John Sullivan, Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise, guest of William Busker.
  • Margaret Cope, Senior Advisor
  • Jim Pauli, Managing Director, Innovative Justice Solutions, guest of Diane Eames.
Visiting Rotarians included:
  • Jim Lanning, from Silver Spring, guest of Andy Koval
  • Richard Hyde

Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell announced the birthdays: 

  • Lucia Serra , October  23:  Lucia, who is currently on a Leave of Absence, joined our club in 2012, sponsored by Lisa Cohen. Her classification is Government: Postal Service.
  • Monica Smith, October 24: Monica was sponsored by David Klaus when she joined in 2012, and currently serves on the Membership Committee. Her classification is Program Management: Museum Exhibitions.

In announcements:

May Gwinn, dressed in a fly fishing outfit and wielding a 7 foot long fishing pole, described the program “Casting for Recovery” run as a service project by Rotarians.  She also described and made available flyers for a water event associated with Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon.

Mark Wilson told us that the International Services Committee reviewed a dozen proposals and allocated funds at a recent three-hour meeting and that the process went very well.

David Klaus summarized the details of the upcoming nomination and election process which runs between now and the end of the year.

Erminia Scarcella told us there will be a Mass said in memory of her husband on November 2.

President Shaun presented a blue badge to Deraux Branch.

Davis Kennedy then introduced our speaker, Dr. Cornelius “Neil” Kerwin, President of American University. He highlighted Dr. Kerwin’s long connection to the university, from which he received two degrees, on whose faculty holds tenure, and where he has previously served in various roles including Provost and Interim President.  He has been President since 2007. His text on federal rulemaking is now in its fifth printing.

Dr. Kerwin jokingly threatened to spend his allotted time talking about federal rulemaking, and then slipped into a recitation of American University’s climb from 1893 Congressional charter to 1915’s first graduating class, on to its current hefty enrollment of 13,000 students.  There are 850 in the faculty, lots of adjunct teachers, and 3200 staff.  It is the 7th largest employer in DC. Its plans for expansion will be fully realized by 2016, but it will remain smaller than George Mason, Maryland, George Washington and Georgetown.  AU is now listed as one of the top 50 private universities in the US, though it does not have a medical or engineering school.

To a hoot of disbelief from a Boston fan, Dr. Kerwin said that Washington is now the premier college town, with more students per capita than any other city. And unlike other institutions, 42% of alumni stick around after graduation.

He then talked about the crisis – his word – facing US higher education.  Demographics are changing at a great rate, minorities are becoming majorities.  Students from the less privileged south and west face high barriers of cost and debt.  However, he says we’ve seen the last of tuition increases that double the CPI.  College administrators understand that family income has been stagnant for a long time.  He sees hope in online methods of teaching adapted to today’s shorter attention spans. He says colleges have to embrace technology.  America has lost ground in measurements of the world’s great educational institutions.

In a lively question and answer period, Dr. Kerwin pointed out that 12 of their past 15 new degrees have been interdisciplinary.  He said that top-rated WAMU-FM as their “pride and joy.” He said it will take ten years to recoup the problems caused by the recession, and said they are committed to providing a lifetime of career services.  They place 90% of their graduates within 6 months.

In response to a question about internships, he said their Washington semester program is 70 years old and that they are number one in the country in finding internships, probably due to the large number of non-profits in this area.  He talked about the track for faculty without research requirements, who sign multiyear contracts based on their handling of a greater teaching load.

And to Judge Margolis’ asking why it all costs so much, he pointed to the 30% hat goes right to student aid, the competition for talent, and the 40% share that goes to personnel cost.

President Shaun presented the much-appreciated tree certificate, and Nancy Riker produced the green raffle container.  The $48 pot was won by President Shaun (who donated his winnings to the Rotary Foundation of DC), but his draw for the $228 large pot was unsuccessful.      

The Hospitality table was staffed by Stu Shalloway, Ted Hamady and Balraj Gupta.  The greeters were Andy Koval and May Gwinn.  The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 pm.