New SIS building dedicated in ceremony featuring NBC's David Gregory
On Thursday, more than 100 students, faculty, staff and alumni came together to celebrate the new School of International Service building.
The evening featured a program of remarks, followed by a variety of international foods and music. The speakers included Esther Benjamin, a 1992 graduate of SIS; William McDonough, the SIS building’s architect; Gary Abramson, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Neil Kerwin, president of AU; David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Dean of SIS Louis Goodman.
“We wanted to do our part, so the founders’ dream can be realized,” Goodman said. “Peace can be waged for all humanity and by all humanity.”
Multiple speakers at the ceremony hailed the new SIS building as a distinguished, green landmark in D.C.
Gregory, a 1992 graduate of SIS, described the building as a beacon of light designed to prepare students to be leaders in the world.
Kerwin said opening the new space is a way of “bringing AU to the world and the world to AU.” He said its purpose was to be a place for all of SIS to gather for “outstanding and provocative scholarship.”
The speakers said the SIS building is meant to reflect the school’s core values, including commitment to a just society, culture, community and academics.
McDonough emphasized the school’s commitment to the environment, its potential for growth and its sustainability as a path into the future.
“[The] materials of the building are designed for infinite use by humans,” he said. “The plan is here — you’re in it.”
Jeremy Cohen, a junior in SIS and president of its Undergraduate Council, said having a new home for the school has been well received by the majority of students.
“The best part about the building is having everyone in one place for the first time,” Cohen said. “That goes a long way towards fostering a sense of community and belonging.”
Cohen was one of the few students that attended the event.
“The thing that stood out the most to me as a student was that there are people that leave here and still care about the fact that they came from SIS,” he said. “It can extend to the rest of your life.”
Ground was broken, ribbons were cut and the space was dedicated — but what’s next for the School of International Service in its new home?
“We need to figure out how to use this building,” Goodman said. “It’s a work in progress … We’re always looking for ideas from students.”
Though Kerwin joked that “[the founders of AU] would be stunned by the variety of coffee in the Davenport Lounge,” he said that “they would say ‘Well done, but there is more work to do in the world — let’s get on with it.’”
five FACTS about the SIS facilities
• The “Inukshuk” sculpture in the building’s atrium is based on a native Canadian place-marker and represents community strength, leadership and motivation.
• Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map, which depicts Earth as one island in one ocean, is used as the frieze between the building’s second and third floors.
• Half of all SIS classes are held in the six classrooms in the building.
• The building holds 121 new offices, each with a window to minimize heating and cooling system usage.
• The parking garage has 292 spaces.