SEAS’s problems go beyond money

Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman has come up with plans for a new and improved School of Engineering and Applied Science. This move comes as a faint attempt to boost the enrollment of SEAS.

However, what Lehman does not realize is that splitting up departments and developing a new “strategic plan” is not the solution to the financial and academic future of the engineering school.

First, ask yourself why enrollment is down. Are not enough students choosing engineering as their major, or are they dropping out after only a year or two in the program? My advice to Mr. Lehman is to first take a look at the faculty.

During my sophomore year, the first words out of my professor’s mouth were, “I have a 30 percent attrition rate in my class.” This was in a beginning level mechanical engineering course that ALL engineers are required to take. But this one professor insisted that he had to weed out all of the bad students so that GW would not have a reputation for graduating inadequate engineers.

How do I know this? He told us three times a week, for the two semesters that we HAD to take his course. I would like to congratulate that professor for beating his average. He turned a prospective class of more than 120 to about 50 in only one semester.

Then there is the computer science professor who has trouble with English, let alone C++. But she has written several technical papers, so it is OK to let her teach. There also are the part-time instructors who do not know what it means to actually teach; they just read the book out loud. I have grown accustomed to classes where the average test score is less than the speed limit.

Mr. Lehman, thank you for the nice gesture. But before you waste time and energy to make SEAS look good on paper with your new “strategic plan,” look at the real reason why enrollment is down. Talk to your faculty and sit in on some of these classes that turn up more “W”s than “A”s. If you cannot understand what they are saying, how can students?

-The writer is a senior majoring in electrical engineering.

Accompanying chart

SEAS at a glance: 1,696 registered students.

 13,298 credit hours completed by SEAS students in 1998.

 Departments and programs located throughout the Foggy Bottom campus, the GW Virginia campus in Ashburn and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Source: GW Office of Institutional Research

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