Attempting to smooth the integration of Mount Vernon College into the University community, officials from both schools explained practicalities – and pointed toward possibilities – of the merger at a Student Association town hall meeting Monday night.
“I can’t stress this enough, we are all GW students,” said Mike Gargano, executive director of the Student Activities Center. “I would encourage you to welcome them and bring them all into our family.”
The University gained financial control of the debt-ridden college in October 1996, and announced in December 1997 that MVC will become a campus of GW by summer of 1999.
MVC Interim President Grae Baxter said no GW tuition money goes to MVC and that the new program is under pressure to break even within the next three or four years.
Next year’s senior class will be the last to receive degrees from Mount Vernon College. Next year’s juniors, sophomores and incoming freshmen will be fully integrated into GW.
“GW-MVC can best be described as a work in progress,” Gargano said.
Baxter said freshmen interested in the Mount Vernon programs applied through GW’s undergraduate admissions office and submitted a regular GW application. Students checked a box on the application indicating they would like to live at MVC.
MVC received 250 applications for fall admissions and accepted 150 students, Baxter said.
“These are diverse, talented, strong students,” she said.
Administrators at both schools said they hope plans for the transition will benefit students both in Foggy Bottom and at Mount Vernon.
Craig Linebaugh, GW’s associate vice president for academic planning and special projects, said seven full-time faculty members have been added to the University payroll to handle MVC classes, ending a full-time hiring freeze at GW.
“These people will not just be teaching at Mount Vernon, they will also be teaching at Foggy Bottom,” he said. “It may even lower average class size.”
Current MVC professors will be laid off, Baxter said. They may apply for the seven new openings, entering the process like any other applicant, she added.
Thirty-five sections of GW classes will be offered at MVC next fall, Linebaugh said. They include eight sections of English 10, two honors courses and general education classes in the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business and Public Management.
“It’s a very broad menu of classes,” Linebaugh said. “They will be every bit as rigorous as they are (at GW).”
Linebaugh said GW has plans in the works for special residential programs at MVC, including a women’s leadership program and an entrepreneurship program.
Gargano said SAC is working to include MVC students in major GW events like Homecoming. He said GW student organizations are working with Mount Vernon students and administrators to integrate MVC students into the groups’ projects and programs.
MVC students have accepted a non-voting seat on GW’s Student Association Senate and hope for a voting seat in the future, said Bethany Miller, MVC’s student government president.
But Miller said MVC would like to keep its own government as well. Currently, a similar system exists at GW Law School – the school retains full representation in the SA but maintains a separate Student Bar Association to advocate for law students’ issues.
“Hopefully the student government at MVC will stay on for years to come and will work with the SA,” Miller said.
Miller said MVC students are excited about the transition.
“It’s been an interesting year and an interesting transition,” she said. “The students are looking forward to the transition next year when we have three classes of GW students (at MVC).”