GWU is an acronym for The George Washington University that should actually be spelled and pronounced "GW" according to the official campus communication guidelines.
Located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., GW was founded in 1821 as The Columbian College and chartered by the United States Congress, which makes it the nation's oldest institution of higher education. Its name was changed in 1873 to Columbian University and in 1904 to The George Washington University.
George Washington, as president and as private citizen, had promoted the establishment of a national university in the federal city. He hoped that students from all parts of the country would become educated in the arts and sciences, acquire the habits of good citizenship, and gain firsthand knowledge of both the practice and the theory of a republican government. To help achieve this goal, Washington left a portion of his estate, in the form of shares in The Potomac Company, "towards the endowment of a University to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the General Government, if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it."
Congress never did extend a "fostering hand", and The Potomac Company went out of business, making Washington's bequest worthless. Nonetheless, well aware of the potential of congressional support and inspired by the vision of a university in the capital, the Reverend Luther Rice and other Baptist clergy raised money to purchase land for an institution of higher learning and petitioned Congress for its charter.
In 1821, President Monroe signed a charter establishing the nonsectarian Columbian College. The campus, which quickly came to be known as College Hill, was situated on a piece of land between 14th and 15th Streets, extending north from Florida Avenue to somewhat beyond Columbia Road. Just four years later, the medical department was founded. Located in the heart of Washington at 10th and E Streets, it was housed in the first of many GW buildings to be located in this downtown area. In 1826 a law department was opened - although it closed after two years and did not reopen until 1865. In the past half century, the University's campus has developed in the section of the old First Ward commonly known as Foggy Bottom, between 19th and 24th Streets, south of Pennsylvania Avenue.
With roughly 8,000 employees (which makes it the largest single employer in D.C.), $1.2 billion of direct and indirect economic activity (1993 figure) generated by the campus and its hospital (famous for saving President Reagan's life in 1981) and over 20,000 enrolled students, GW is one of the leading institutions in the nation and has earned special recognition in the field of public affairs.
The White House, the IMF, the World Bank and the Eighteenth Street Lounge being a few blocks away may have something to do with that.
Enough with this positively subjective post about my alma mater.
- GW's official website - http://www.gwu.edu
- Stats - http://www.gwu.edu/%7Enewsctr/newscenter/PDFs/gw_2000_report.pdf