Faculty members showcase research

The Scholars Showcase Wednesday offered more than a forum for faculty members to present their research efforts – it signified a crossroads for GW as it prepares to move into the upper echelon of American research universities, said Carol Sigelman, GW’s associate vice president for research and graduate studies.

The educational fair recognized the work of 200 faculty members by giving them the opportunity to exhibit results of their research.

“The showcase gives us a sense of how much is going on at this University and what our professors are up to, not to mention it brings together faculty and students to communicate and collaborate for the future,” Sigelman said.

Professor David Rowley, a 30-year veteran of the department of chemistry, said GW’s former teaching emphasis has begun to shift to a focus on research, recruitment of young, energized faculty members and a search for outside support.

“The research all of us do affects our teaching, as well as the reputation of the institution, which in turn will attract the best professors,” Sigelman said.

Sigelman said the University is developing plans to move into the top tier of research universities.

GW was classified in 1994 as a Research II university when the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching last awarded the designations.

But the Foundation is expected to meet again soon to earmark Research I universities, a higher designation that GW has a good chance of receiving, Sigelman said.

Research I facilities ” (offer) a full range of baccalaureate programs, are committed to graduate education through the doctorate and give high priority to research. These institutions award 50 or more doctoral degrees each year. In addition they receive annually $40 million or more in federal support,” according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

GW received a total of $59 million in the form of federal government, private foundation and industry grants in 1997.

Individually, the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences received $13 million, the School of Engineering and Applied Science $9 million and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development $7 million. The Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Business and Public Management and the GW Law School received $1 million, $832,000 and $430,000, respectively.

Almost 200 professors throughout the University received outside grants this academic year.

But the allocation of funds reveal a disparity between the humanities and “hard” science professors, faculty members said.

“It’s absolutely true that science gets more money for research than the humanities do,” said John Vlach, a professor in the anthropology department.

Vlach said a six-year project he conducted could have been shortened by a year with more funding.

“We’re not used to getting lots of money in the humanities,” he said.

Humanities research requires work in libraries and demands less group work and lab equipment – the more expensive components of research – than the “hard” sciences, Vlach said.

“Their toys are more expensive,” Jim Lord, a research assistant with the Center for Social and Organizational Learning, said of science researchers.

But the University attempts to compensate the discrepancy by offering three internal funding programs to help professors start research until they find grants, and to help disciplines which receive few outside grants.

Also at Wednesday’s showcase, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg also presented the 1998 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Research Scholarship to SBPM Professor Susan Tolchin for her work in government and public policy.

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