GW’s future is uncertain, and that’s not a bad thing

We have at our helm a president who is no longer quite so new. Steven Knapp is beginning to leave an imprint upon the institution, most notably in a reshuffling of important administrators. EVPAA Don Lehman is retiring. A search for a new provost is underway: this person will be responsible for the day to day operations of the institution. Leo Chalupa is our new VP of Research. Change is coming and will continue to arrive.
Not to sound like a business manual, but with change really does come opportunity. Here are some ideas, not all of them my own. Many of them have appeared in some form on this blog previously.

  1. GW needs to embrace a wider view of the strengths it possesses, as well as teh resources and alliances Washington offers. Yes, this city is a center for policy and politics. But DC is also a world center for the arts and humanities (the Kennedy Center, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress) as well as the sciences (National Science Foundation, NIH, NIMH)
  2. The university is a community consisting of its adminstration, its faculty, its students, and its alumni. Those who develop GW’s policies and its visions should involve all these groups from the start, and not in a token manner, so that we are not placed in a situation of complaining about living with procedures or an aspirational identity that we did not help to develop.
  3. We require more members of the full time faculty. We do not possess a sufficient number relative to the number of our students.
  4. We need more spaces for community formation. We need dedicated places, large and small, outside the classroom and beyond office hours where faculty, students, and alumni can interact. These are the spaces in which innovation is born. My favorite examples are Kelly House at U Penn and the Humanities Center at Harvard because they work. I know that such space is being built into GW’s new Engineering and Science building, with good reason. Don’t the humanities and social sciences merit such space as well?

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