Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray was the most famous alum in attendance at George Washington University's second annual reception for District government employees and officials who graduated from the college or have worked with the school.
Ben's Next Door on U Street shut its doors Wednesday night to regular customers to provide the venue for alumni to chomp on mini-half smokes and crab cakes and to applaud Gray, who takes office in January after beating Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the Democratic primary.
Gray, 68 and a 1964 graduate, talked about being one of about two dozen African Americans at the school. He helped integrate the university's fraternity system.
When people ask him what his major was, Gray said, "I tell them I was in the pre-mayor program."
"I look back on George Washington now as having prepared me for life," he said.
Gray drew laughs when he asked college President Steven Knapp if he could pick up a check from the school's $700 million endowment. "Do you realize GW could help balance the budget of the District of Columbia?" he asked.
Gray was followed by Pierre Vigilance, director of the Department of Health and a 1991 graduate. He told the crowd to stay healthy when it comes to the food at Ben's. "Everything in moderation. I'm not saying don't eat it; just don't eat it everyday," he said.