University proposes professional studies

The GW Faculty Senate passed a resolution Friday that allows for further development of a proposed program – the College of Professional Studies.

The purpose of the new college, according to a presentation by Donald Lehman, vice president for Academic Affairs, and Roger Whitaker, vice president for Academic Development and Continuing Education, would be to combine the efforts of off-campus programs for better revenue, marketing and reputation, the vice presidents said.

The Appointment Salary and Promotion Policies Committee, a faculty committee that reviewed the plan, said the most important issue is to assure the highest academic integrity of GW. Members of the Faculty Senate said the school originally was planned to be operational by September, but no projected date was given.

The proposed program, presented in November 1999 by Lehman and Whitaker, will act as an off-campus entity under the GW brand name. Mostly off-campus facilities will be used and no additional classroom space will be needed because the school is an externally focused effort, Whitaker said.

At the meeting Friday, Faculty Senate members emphasized that the new school’s master of professional studies degree programs would not compete in any way with on-campus programs.

The new college will be parallel to the existing one and unique in other ways, said Professor Robert Park, who composed the recommendations of the plan by the Appointment Salary and Promotion Policies Committee.

Many representatives from already-existing off-campus programs said they were willing to work in the new College of Professional Studies, members of the Faculty Senate said. The schools’ current off-campus endeavors will serve as a foundation for the new school.

In a December meeting, the Faculty Senate created an ad hoc committee to advise them on the proposed school. The committee found beneficial aspects of the proposal, but also said there were grave flaws in the plan. They said the possibility of inadequate timely consultation by the regular faculty, might damage the University’s reputation over time.

This concern warranted the establishment of a Joint Faculty Administration Task Force to craft a revised proposal. The suggestions of the ad hoc committee, including the establishment of the Task Force, were passed Friday. The governing structure was the main focus of the ASPP report, leaving revenue issues still undecided.

But some Faculty Senate members said they were concerned about the lack of solid financial footing.

We want to make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, said Professor Joseph Pelzman, a member of Faculty Senate.

Proponents of the plan mentioned other universities, including Johns Hopkins and New York universities and the University of Maryland that are running successful schools of professional studies.

Whitaker cited NYU, a highly ranked research institution in all its fields, as an example. NYU carries a $92-million enterprise known as the School of Continuing Professional Studies.

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