Among the six alumni recently honored by the university for their accomplishments at the 80th annual Alumni Achievement Awards ceremony was Columbian College graduate Daniel H. Weiss, BA ’79, president and chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, former president of Haverford College and Lafayette College and dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University.
“Dan stands out as a towering figure,” said CCAS Dean Ben Vinson. “He embodies the ideals of citizen leadership and has earned well-deserved kudos as an extraordinary teacher, scholar and exemplar of professionalism and integrity.”
Weiss credits his career path, which eventually led to him overseeing one of the most prestigious art museums in the world, to an introductory art history class that he enrolled in his freshman year. For Weiss, whose initial intent was to be a political science major, it was a life-changing moment.
“I was deeply interested in politics and the study of government,” Weiss said. “I took the art history introductory class because the woman I was very interested in was taking art history, and I thought this was a good way to build a relationship with her. When I walked in that classroom it changed my life…. I can say honestly and candidly that GW has given me the life that I have gotten to live.”
The experience compelled Weiss to stay on the art history track. In fact, he began his career in museums while still a student at GW, working as a museum shops manager at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. After graduation, he went on to earn a MBA from Yale University and a master’s in Medieval and Modern art and a PhD in Western Medieval and Byzantine art from Johns Hopkins University. Weiss stayed at Hopkins to teach, working his way from an assistant professor of art history to the deanship at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. From there, he went on to serve as president and professor of art history at Lafayette College and then president of Haverford College. In 2015, he was named to the top position at the MET, the country’s largest and most highly attended museum in the world with over 6 million visitors and more than 28,000 events. Weiss oversees the museum’s $3 billion endowment and the operation of the massive 2.1 million square foot building, which encompasses nearly 400 galleries.
“Dan Weiss represents the best of our alumni through his long list of professional accomplishments,” Dean Vinson said. “He serves with great distinction as an example to the world.”
About the Awards
The Alumni Achievement Awards were created in 1937 to recognize GW graduates who have distinguished themselves through notable achievements in their professional and personal lives. The annual awards are the highest form of recognition given by the George Washington Alumni Association. Past recipients include 16-time NBA champion Arnold “Red” Auerbach, BS ’40, MA ’41; Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, PhD ’55; award-winning actress Kerry Washington, BA '98; and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, MBA ’71.
“The accomplishments of these awardees reflect upon our alma mater and bring honor to all of us as a GW alumni community,” said Jeremy Gosbee, BA ’98, MBA ’02, president of the GW Alumni Association. In addition to Weiss, this year’s recipients are Corinne E. Ball, JD ’78, partner at Jones Day; André (Andy) J. Nahmias, MD ’57, emeritus professor of pediatrics and public health at Emory University; Baroness Joanna Shields, MBA ’87, under-secretary of state and minister for internet safety and security in the United Kingdom; Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, MD ’88, 44th surgeon general of the United States Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command; and Hussain Nadim, BA ’10, senior expert on Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace.