GW renames Columbian School to remember past

GW will change the name of the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in July to return to its roots and alleviate confusion about the organization of the school.

Faculty and administrators “had never been thrilled about the name to begin with,” University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

Trachtenberg said people were confused by the name when CSAS expanded to become an umbrella institution for the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Graduate School of Political Management, the “college” moniker eliminates having a school within a school.

This is not the first time GW has changed identities. Columbian College was once housed on College Hill, a 46-acre plot nestled between 14th and 15th streets, Florida Avenue and Columbia Road, for more than 160 years before GW received its current name.

Columbian College went on to become GW’s original college of liberal arts and sciences, and awarded its first bachelors degree in 1824, with the first Master of Arts degree following in 1831. The University awarded its first Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1888, one of the first institutions in the United States to do so, according to the GW Web site.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was created in 1965, and merged with the Columbian College in 1992 to become the Columbian College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Three years later the Graduate School of Political Management joined the University and as part of the CCGSAS, and the name was shortened to the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.

Some faculty and administrators had become nostalgic for the old name, Trachtenberg said.

“The faculty voted on the name change, and we were all consulted,” said Christopher Arterton, dean of the Graduate School of Political Management.

Along with the name change comes a change in the general curriculum requirements. Students who entered the University in the fall of 2000 are required to complete the new set of requirements, which were designed to give students more flexibility.

Trachtenberg said the simple name change will not affect the workings of the University.

“Would a rose still smell as sweet if called by any other name?” he said. “This is a clear example of that.”

Students who graduate in May will receive diplomas under the school’s old name. But anyone who walks in the ceremony and finishes their coursework during the summer will receive a diploma under the new name, according to a University press release.

“I think (the name change) is a fine idea,” Arterton said. “Having a school within a school was a little confusing.”

TIMELINE
1824- Columbian College, GW’s original college of liberal arts and sciences, awards its first bachelors degree

1831- Columbian College awards its first Master of Arts degree

1888- Columbian College is one of the first institutions in the U.S. to award a Doctor of Philosophy degree

1965- The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is created

1992- The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences merges with the Columbian College to become the Columbian College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

1995- The Graduate School of Political Management joins the University as part of the CCGSAS, the name is shortened to the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.

2000- GW creates new general curriculum requirements for the Columbian School

2001- The Columbian School of Arts and Sciences becomes the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

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