Two-time alumnus Al Nadel talks Watergate and the importance of giving back

Imagine it’s 1972. You’re a GW Law student. The Watergate scandal is breaking all over the news — and the White House and Democratic National Committee headquarters are both a few blocks away from the law school. All of a sudden, two government agents burst into one of your classes.

“My law school classmate David Eisenhower, son-in-law of President Richard Nixon, was escorted out of the classroom by a couple of Secret Service men,” explains two-time alumnus Al Nadel. “Where else but GW?”

For Al, attending GW during the 60s and 70s — first as a CCAS undergraduate, later as a law student — felt like “living history.” To that end, Al found himself stumbling across important historical moments as they were happening.

“During one demonstration by the Students for a Democratic Society, I happened to have been a victim of tear gas!” says Al, who was involved with Greek life and on the men’s rowing team.

“Along the same lines, during a demonstration by people against the National Guard shooting of students at Kent State in 1970, while rowing with the team under Memorial Bridge near the Lincoln Memorial, tear gas wafted down to the river and affected all of us who were rowing,” he recounts.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and completing his J.D., Al moved to Philadelphia to practice patent law in 1976. He’s now a partner at Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel LLP, though he plans to retire at the beginning of 2018.

In Philadelphia, Al became involved in the local GW alumni community in Philadelphia right away. Read more of our conversation with this dedicated alumnus below.

GW Alumni: You’re highly involved with GW’s alumni community and student life. Can you tell us a little more about what this looks like?

Al Nadel: I helped establish an active alumni chapter and am still involved with what is now known as the GW Philadelphia Alumni Network, focusing in large part on the freshmen send-off programs for many years. I have also been on the GW Law Alumni Board and was a Vice President on the GWAA Board of Directors for several years.

I have been involved in the Alumni Admissions Program, representing GW at college fairs and interviewing prospective freshmen. As a rower on the men’s Crew team, I return as often as possible for races, Crew alumni programs, and more. Currently, I am an emeritus member of the National Council of Arts and Sciences advising the Dean of the Columbian College.

GW: Wow! And how long have you been volunteering at the university?

AN: Since my CCAS degree in 1971!

GW: What’s been the most rewarding part about being a volunteer for GW?

AN: Witnessing and experiencing, up close and personally, the great many enhancements of a GW education. This includes its programs, facilities, students, and outreach to alumni.

GW: Could you briefly describe the impact your volunteer experience has had on the greater GW community?

AN: In view of the many alumni activities I’ve had and have, I think that a few students, the chemistry department, the CCAS dean’s operations, the law school, and the men’s rowing team have been able to benefit, at least a bit. It’s very interesting when I see alumni who come to me during various events recall how I welcomed them as freshmen to GW at a freshmen send-off event.

GW: Do you have any advice for alumni who are looking to start giving back?

AN: I believe that Golden Rule always applies: do for others what others did for me. I enjoyed my GW experience and hope to enhance the GW experience for others!

–Sophie Ota

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