Campus Life

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Already Know About George Washington University

GWU is obviously an outstanding university and while there are many programs and alumni known all over the world, there are some facts even students aren’t aware of. Keep reading for things you probably didn’t already know about George Washington University.

1. Our hospital saved President Reagan’s life.

When Reagan was shot in 1981, he was taken to the George Washington University Hospital, where he was stabilized prior to surgery. Our medical center is also credited with saving the life of his press secretary.

2. The first American to be targeted and killed by drone went to GW.

Anwar al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971 to Yemeni parents. In 2001, he worked on a doctorate in Human Resource Development at GW, though he never completed the degree. He became a top al-Qaeda recruiter, and was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
Also on al-Awlaki: His 8 year-old daughter was one of those killed in Trump’s Yemen raid.

3. On a lighter note, the George Washington statute in U-Yard has a twin in England.

Jean-Antoine Houdon made the original statue, which is in the VA Capitol. Several copies were made, one of which sits on our campus. Another early copy is in Trafalgar Square in London. The story goes that since Washington swore he would never set foot on English soil again, the statue was placed on soil imported from Virginia.

4. One of GW’s former residence halls was the HQ for the Watergate break-in.

The Hall on Virginia Avenue (which we sold in 2016) used to be the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. In 1972, Watergate burglars used rooms there to monitor the break-in and listen to tapped footage from the DNC.

5. Our NCAA bowl game record is 1-0.

Sorry to everyone who has the “Colonial Football: Still Undefeated” shirts, but that’s not true, because we actually did have a football team, from 1881 – 1966 (was scrapped because it wasn’t profitable like basketball was for us). We won the Sun Bowl in 1956 against Texas Western. So unfortunately, we actually were defeated 252 times: just never in a bowl.

6. We haven’t always been the Buff and Blue Colonials.

Our original colors were actually blue and orange (boo), but we changed them to match George’s famous uniform. We didn’t become the Colonials until the late 1920’s, and George didn’t become our official mascot until 1948. We were previously referred to as the Buff and Blue, and our sports teams were called the “Hatchetites” for a time (“Colonial” doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?).

See Also

7. GW was the backdrop for the discovery of nuclear fission.

The first atom was not split at our university, but the major announcement was here. George Gamow, a former Russian physicist we recruited to help our science program, insisted on holding regular conferences on theoretical physics. The fifth such conference saw the announcement of nuclear fission, and many of those Gamow invited ended up working on the Manhattan Project.

Hopefully you learned some cool facts about G-Dub, but at the very least, next time someone says “well my school makes pro athletes,” just say “Kerry Washington” and walk away.

Were you surprised by this list of things you probably didn’t already know about George Washington University?

Featured photo source:
Emily Milakovic

Journalism and Spanish major at GWU and future law student. Interests include anything related to politics, social issues, and dog photos. Find my news pieces at!

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