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American Magazine April 2014

American University is located in Washington, D.C., at the top of Embassy Row. Chartered by Congress in 1893 to serve the public interest and build the nation, the university educates active citizens who apply knowledge to the most pressing concerns facing the nation and world. Students engage with leading faculty experts and world leaders, learning how to create change and address issues including the global economic crisis, health care, human rights and justice, diversity, the environment and sustainability, immigration, journalism’s transformation, corporate governance, and governmental reform.

on campus PEEK OUT of

on campus PEEK OUT of the northwest windows of the iconic McKinley Building and you’ll see the seam where the grand, original structure—erected in 1907—meets the addition, construction on which commenced in 2012. The spot where old meets new is a fitting metaphor for the School of Communication’s new home. The state-of-the-art facility, which nearly quadruples SOC’s square footage, will propel “a school that’s already arrived . . . to the very top echelons of communication and education,” says AU president Neil Kerwin. Previously scattered in six spaces across campus, SOC’s 850 undergrads, 350 grad students, 49 full-time faculty members, and 6 centers are now housed under McKinley’s domed roof. The building features a media innovation lab, a focus group teleconference suite, digital classrooms, a rooftop terrace, the Abramson Family Plaza, and the 144-seat Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater. Pardon our mess Classrooms were finished, but McKinley was still a construction zone in places when the building opened its doors for the spring semester. Finishing touches were put on the modernized McKinley, built for LEED certification, in late March. Read about how McKinley will further SOC’s reputation as a global leader in communication education, and the ways in which it will prepare the next generation of journalists, filmmakers, and PR wonks, in the August issue of American magazine. 12 AMERICAN MAGAZINE APRIL 2014

wonk Q. You’ve run 12 marathons (winning 2). What makes the Boston Marathon so special? A. Boston’s one of the most competitive marathons in the world—but it’s the spectators that make it. Without the people, it would just be another race. I thought 2012 was the year, but it just wasn’t meant to be because of the weather. It was really hot. Heat is like Kryptonite for me. I learned that the hard way that day and actually dropped out. I knew I would be back. Last year we had perfect racing weather. It was 50 degrees, maybe a slight headwind, but you knew you had a real opportunity to enjoy everything the course has to offer. There’s no city that so thoroughly embraces its marathon like Boston. The support you get is unbelievable. Literally miles and miles of the course are lined with people screaming as loud as they can. You can tell it’s important to them that they give this experience to the runners. I crossed the line in 2:37. It wasn’t my best time, but I gave everything I had. I also knew immediately I would be back. My flight was later that afternoon, and I remember we got on the plane and the pilot told us three people died. It was crushing. My wife and I just started sobbing. It was heartbreaking, especially after just experiencing a city that so fully gives itself to you. I think it made me more resolute. I know that it’s just a race, but in terms of repaying what Boston gives to you on that day, I don’t know how to do that other than go out and give the absolute best effort I can, because the Boston fans really appreciate and acknowledge that. Mercer plans to run his third Boston Marathon on April 21. To find out how he does, visit Sidebar, American magazine’s blog: americanmag.blogs.american.edu. DICKSON MERCER SOC/MA ’12 Speechwriter, U.S. Department of Transportation Senior editor, Run Washington “I became the person I was supposed to be once I started running every day. People often say a successful athlete has a gift, but running itself is a gift. It gave me tons of time to think, and a much clearer sense of purpose and direction.” LET’S TALK #AMERICANMAG 13