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Happy Birthday to the Smithsonian

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Today is the 162nd birthday of the Smithsonian Institute.  On August 10, 1846, President James Polk signed an Act passed by Congress establishing the Smithsonian as a trust, to be administered by a Board of Trustees and a Secretary of the Institution.  The impetus for this Act was a bequest by a British scientist, James Smithson, who left his estate to his nephew, unless his nephew died without heirs in which case the estate went to the United States of America to “found at Washington, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”  Smithson’s nephew died in 1835, the money was delivered to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1838 and Congress debated the situation for eight years before passing the 1846 Act.

In October 1881, after the second Secretary of the Smithsonian, Spencer F. Baird had ensured that naturalists accompanied every government expedition exploring the western reaches of the continent, the National Museum opened.  Housed in 80,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Museum displayed exhibits related to geology, metallurgy, zoology, medicine, anthropology, art, history, medicine, and agriculture.  Today, the Smithsonian Institute includes sixteen museums, several research centers, the National Zoo, the Smithsonian Institute Libraries, the Smithsonian Magazine, the Smithsonian Institute Press, the Traveling Exhibition Service and an Office of Education.  Most of the museums are free of charge and centrally located in the heart of Washington, DC.  In 2007, 24.2 million people visited the museums of the Smithsonian; 2.6 million people visited the National Zoo.  With more than 136 million collections as of 2007, the Smithsonian has grown by grand proportions.  Today’s Smithsonian Institute strives to serve the nation and the world in ways that would make James Smithson proud.

As a near-by resident, I have had the pleasure of enjoying countless hours exploring the network of museums and would recommend that anyone visiting the area dedicate at least a couple of days to doing the same.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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