You are here: American University Community Relations Newsletter April 2021 Neighborhood Newsletter

AU in the Neighborhood

April 2021

How AU's Maintenance Staff is Keeping Campus Safe During COVID-19

AU maintenance staff

When most of the AU community left campus to pivot to remote instruction and work in the midst of the pandemic in March 2020, the Facilities Management Team stayed to start advanced cleaning protocols and improvements to building ventilation systems to help fight the virus.

All upgrades were in place by the time AU decided to offer the Mid-Semester Residential Experience that is currently underway. Now, AU students, faculty, and staff returning to campus can be sure that residence halls, classrooms, workspaces, and campus vehicles have been prepared specifically with COVID prevention and safety in mind.

Generally, the 160-member Facilities Management Team checks systems for safety before every semester, but now with the pandemic, the team is taking additional measures to protect the AU community.

“All AU buildings not only meet the CDC’s COVID safety requirements, but we also took the additional step of ensuring that they also adhere to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers’ requirements,” said Vin Harkins, assistant vice president of facilities management.

To achieve optimum air quality, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in all buildings have undergone preventative maintenance and performance testing. The team also upgraded all air handling units by changing out more than 7,700 air filters to meet Center for Disease Control guidelines. Outside engineering companies inspected and signed off on AU compliance with those guidelines at the end of 2020.

“We’ve increased the outside air flow to all buildings as much as possible, while monitoring room temperatures and humidity to avoid extremes and potential mold growth,” Harkins said.

As for indoor and high-touch areas throughout campus, the team uses fog machines to help disinfect busy areas quickly, and a well-staffed 150-person Housekeeping Team works double shifts in residence halls, so they can clean everything—even unoccupied spaces—daily.

“For people occupying or visiting any building on campus, we’ve installed hand sanitizer stations on all floors of every building. Plexiglass barriers have also been erected at all areas where one-on-one contact is likely, like information desks and anywhere a queue may form,” Harkins said.

Also, university shuttle bus drivers are now protected with plexiglass shields, and they keep passengers safe by disinfecting their buses after every round trip using fog machines on every bus.

The protective shields on the buses were fabricated at AU, by Brian Hamlin, the assistant manager in vehicle maintenance. “He did this on his own initiative to help protect drivers and passengers,” said Doug Kudravetz, AU’s chief financial officer. “Hamlin ordered the steel, aluminum and plexiglass and made the entire shield on hinges. It shows how people are going the extra mile to keep the campus safe.”

“When people come back to campus this spring, they can feel confident knowing that the Facilities Management Team never left, and that we’ve spent the past year taking every measure possible to ensure that students, faculty, and staff return to the most safe campus possible,” Harkins said.

Calendar and Events

Kolinda Grabar Kiarovic - Building Policy Consensus on the World Stage: The Pitfalls, Progress, and Possibilities

We see it across the globe – multilateral world order challenged, erosion of values, deeply polarized societies, represented by uneasy coalitions and divided governments, and factions unable to come together to make important policy decisions for its citizens. This seminar series will explore the need to find common ground, overseas and at home, to build stronger alliances, resilient societies, and stronger citizenry. The guest speaker for this series will be Croatian President Grabar Kitarovic. Building on the experiences of a girl who grew up fighting prejudice and unequal opportunities and navigating political and diplomatic corridors and centers of power, as well as glass labyrinths of gender bias throughout her rise to power as Croatia's first female head of state, President Kitarovic has seen what it takes to rebuild a nation and bring people together. To register:

  • NATO and the Future of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance: A Former Assistant Secretary General’s Perspective

April 5, 4 – 5 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

The new and emerging threats and challenges testify to the need and continued relevance of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, however revamped and modernized. An Alliance fit for purpose, with increased cooperation from partners around the world to face asymmetric, hybrid threats and challenges, coming not only from within, but also from outside of its geographic area. The seminar will explore views on keeping the relevance of NATO, in light of the re-emergence of territorial threats, in the face of the new growing threats such as cyber attacks. It also will consider whether such threats can be considered attacks under Article 5 and whether NATO, as a whole, can find a way to respond to them. Topics such as the future of defense spending, the value of partnerships in the post out-of-area operations phase, and restoration of trust and confidence between the US and its partners will be discussed. To register:

  • Challenges of Building Social Consensus: Education in Croatia - a Case Study

April 12, 4 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

This seminar will explore how issues of national and universal importance can quickly become ideological and political issues and create rifts within society. Working across a divided society, taking into account opposing views to not antagonize but build bridges and bring people together around the common goals, and overall modernization of societies, especially those resistant to change, will be explored. The Croatian Curricular Reform will be a case study for this seminar with particular focus on the new demographic trends and on how to build on the experiences with online programs during the global pandemic.  Questions will be posed as to how to create schools as places of modern, creative learning and training that encourage excellence, creativity, confidence, and competition among students. The discussion also will ponder how to educate responsible citizens, build school systems that survive and resist the constant social and political turmoil, as well as domestic and global challenges and threats such as terrorism, migrations, and pandemics. To register:

  • The Path Forward 2021 and Beyond

April 19, 4 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

Globalization vs. regionalization, universality vs. particularity, competing orders and rising actors, rising nationalism and extremism, the US-EU-Russia-China quadrangle of power interaction, confrontation and cooperation, emerging powers, the complexity of relations of multiple and diverse actors in international relations, are all topics to be discussed in the context of the reshaping world-order for the future. The position and role of the US, the challenges and opportunities for the new administration, will be explored, with a focus on restoring America’s image globally and regionally, restoring international alliances and re-engaging in multilateral organizations and institutions. The seminar will also explore the needs and ways of global promotion of universal human rights and values. To register:

Spotlight on the Eastern Mediterranean

April 6, 2 – 3 p.m. 
Virtual Meeting Room

During the past year, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a hotbed of geopolitical tensions. The long-established local rivalries have attracted new players and have increasingly become embroiled with other major disputes, including over the gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the continued instability in Libya. H.E. Alexandra Papadopoulou, Greece’s Ambassador to the United States, and H.E. Marios Lysiotis, the Republic of Cyprus’ Ambassador to the United States, will discuss these subjects and more during a virtual conversation. SIS professor Doga Eralp will moderate the discussion, followed by a Q&A with the audience. To register:

Cultivating Fear: Anti-Muslim Bias in the Media and Society

April 6, 5:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

Cultivating Fear: Anti-Muslim Bias in the Media & Society

The School of Communication’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee invites you to join a panel discussion featuring Muslim journalists, advocates, and researchers discussing their religious identity and how it intersects with their work, communities, and personal lives.Speakers include: Rowaida Abdelaziz, national reporter at Huffington Post; Malika Bilal, senior presenter at The Take; Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); and Saif Shahin, assistant professor, AU School of Communications. 


Guadalupe Maravilla: AU Department of Art Visiting Artist Series

April 6, 6 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

Art by Guadalupe Maravilla

Guadalupe Maravilla is a transdisciplinary artist who was part of the first wave of undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s from Central America. As an homage to his own migratory history, and to that of others, Maravilla makes work that acknowledges the historical and contemporary contexts of immigrant culture, notably belonging to Latinx communities. Maravilla gained notoriety for his performances which are expansive and immersive, incorporating choreographed rituals, hand-made costumery, fusion music, smell, theatre, and audience participation. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and Richmond, Virginia, where he is an Assistant Professor at VCU. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his MFA from Hunter College in New York. Register here to receive a Zoom link and email reminders.  

Spotlight on the Eastern Mediterranean

April 6, 2 – 3 p.m. 
Virtual Meeting Room

During the past year, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a hotbed of geopolitical tensions. The long-established local rivalries have attracted new players and have increasingly become embroiled with other major disputes, including over the gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the continued instability in Libya. H.E. Alexandra Papadopoulou, Greece’s Ambassador to the United States, and H.E. Marios Lysiotis, the Republic of Cyprus’ Ambassador to the United States, will discuss these subjects and more during a virtual conversation. SIS professor Doga Eralp will moderate the discussion, followed by a Q&A with the audience. To register:

Antiracism and Environmental Justice: Latinx Imperatives

April 8, 3 – 4 p.m. 
Virtual Meeting Room

Join David J. Vázquez, Associate Professor of Literature and Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University, for a virtual conversation as he speaks with Ramón Cruz, president of the Sierra Club, SIS/BA '98. The two will discuss environmental justice in Latinx communities, the recent Sierra Club commitment to anti-racism, and the prospects for anti-racist environmentalism in the post-Trump, post-Covid era. Event Website:

A Conversation with the Ambassador of Germany

April 12, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

American University's Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program will feature an online conversation between German Ambassador to the United States Dr. Emily Haber and CIS director Professor Michael Brenner on Germany’s responsibility in facing the past and fighting antisemitism today. To register:

From the State House to The White House What Comes Next?  Policy Prescriptions for a Successful Future

April 13, 12 -1 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

In this seminar, part of the Consensus Drives Strong Policy series, Gary Locke, Washington’s 21st Governor and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China, will explore the need to work collectively on the nation’s most pressing problems on a local, state-wide, national and international stage. Locke brings decades of experience in forming alliances and consensus on the issues of the day. This dynamic seminar will lead to conversations that reveal challenges, discuss options, and look at potential solutions. To register:

Interview the Interviewer

April 13, 12 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

Why do journalists matter and how can we become one? This seminar, part of journalist Ann Curry’s Empowering Truth: Why America Needs True Journalists in an Increasingly Complicated World series, offers virtual office hours with an award-winning global journalist, to any curious American University student with a question. To register:

The Internet as a Medium of Activism

April 14, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

Raw Hope of Humanity

The Third Space Network and the Raw Hope Coalition of DC Metro museums, art spaces, and academic partners present Raw Hope of Humanity Rising: Online Public Dialogues for 2021,a series of public dialogues broadcast live monthly and online throughout this spring. The Raw Hope initiative brings together leading changemakers – from street artists to muralists to Black Lives Matter activists – to create a socially-engaged online space for dialogue, participation, diversity, and renewal. The April 14 event, titled The Internet as a Medium for Activism & Social Change, explores the internet as a platform for political action through social media collaboration, virtual community, alternative journalism, and digital forms of artistic media. The panel will include Jeff Gates, DC artist/writer and founder of the Chamomile Tea Party; Makia Green, core organizer for DC Black Lives Matter; and Randall Packer, artist/creative director with Third Space Network. To register: To learn more about the full series:

Racial Representation in the Media: Exploring our Role

April 19, 7 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

This 90-minute panel discussion focuses on the intersectionality of race and representation in the media. Speakers will discuss their work across various communication disciplines and how the field can move beyond diversity to promote equity and inclusion. To register:

Exploring Social Justice: Inspiring Radical Creativity: Empowering Young, Diverse Voices to Tell Their Own Stories

April 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
Virtual Meeting Room

To Gabby Rivera, it’s vital to encourage people of all backgrounds to create, daydream, and tell their own stories – and in so doing, open a radical space for creativity. In this affecting talk, Rivera unpacks how she navigates the world as a queer, Latinx, millennial woman; how she incorporates her heritage into her writing; how she strives to be a thoughtful ally for others; and how she celebrates the healing power of community. She addresses privilege and power and what we can do to support the ideas of diverse artists working with progressive politics. The discussion will address difficult questions: What if this country made everyone – people of all colors, cultures, orientations, abilities, and genders – feel at home? What if the traumas experienced by marginalized peoples could be reconciled and incorporated into a broader, richer definition of America? What if our non-white ancestors weren’t erased, but represented in pop culture, in our textbooks, and classrooms? And what if we could privilege differences as a source of wonder, laughter and celebration, and not as something to fear?  To register:

James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Artist Series: Kate Kretz

April 25, 2 – 3 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Room

A mask made by Kate Kretz

Kate Kretz was trained as a painter, but creates across disciplines, choosing the most potent medium for each project. She focuses generally on creating time-intensive, intricate work telling difficult truths. Kate is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster through 2021. She has received the MD Council For The Arts Grant (in 2015 & 2017 for crafts, and 2018 for painting) and numerous other awards. Register at: