President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg

George Washington University


President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is a member of UoPeople’s President’s Council. He is President Emeritus and University Professor of Public Service at The George Washington University. He served as GW’s 15th president from 1988 to 2007. Trachtenberg came to GW from the University of Hartford, where he was president for 11 years. He also had been vice president for academic services and academic dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Boston University, and was the special assistant to the U.S. Education Commissioner, Department of Health, Education and Welfare.


Trachtenberg is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Phi Beta Kappa. He is on the Board of the Bankinter Foundation in Madrid and the American Ditchley Foundation. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration. Trachtenberg chaired the Rhodes Scholarships Selection Committee for Maryland and the District of Columbia.


Trachtenberg has published five books: BMOC: A University President Speaks Out on Higher Education published by Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone Press; Write Me A Letter: The Wit and Wisdom of Stephen Joel Trachtenberg; Reflections on Higher Education; Thinking Out Loud: A Decade of Thoughts on Higher Education; and Speaking His Mind: Five Years of Commentary on Higher Education.. He is co-editor of two books: The Art of Hiring in America’s Colleges & Universities and Letters to the Next President, published by The Korn/Ferry Institute. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Why They Failed about university presidents who went off the rails.


Trachtenberg was on DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s Transition team. He has served on numerous boards such as the DC Chamber of Commerce, which he chaired, the National Board of Trade and the Federal City Council. He was a member of the Board of the Loctite Corporation, MNC and Riggs Bank.


Trachtenberg earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University, a Juris Doctor from Yale University, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University. In addition, he holds more than 20 honorary doctoral degrees, including a Doctor of Laws from his alma mater, Columbia University. Trachtenberg and his wife, Francine Zorn Trachtenberg, have two sons: Adam and Ben.