Staff editorial: Growing Virginia campus

GW’s Virginia campus, located in Loudon County, is growing. The acquisition of the PSINet building and its surrounding land for $27 million gave the Loudon campus an additional 40 acres of space, nearly doubling the size. And GW reports that tuition dollars from students on the main campus have not gone toward campus improvements, no small accomplishment for a University that is getting very creative in coming up with some sound business partnerships.

The Loudon campus offers GW engineering students real-life experience researching the nationally renowned wired home, which is part of a partnership with AOL-Time Warner Inc. Other impressive aspects of the young campus include an earthquake simulator – the only one of its kind on the East Coast – a crash test center through the National Transportation Safety Board and wreckage of TWA Flight 800 for research. It would be a positive sign to see GW students taking part in all of these developments.

The Virginia campus is somewhat of a mystery to most main campus students. Most may not be aware that a shuttle next to Lisner Auditorium makes trips to the campus twice a day. Students can benefit from seeing first-hand some of the amazing new technological advancements that are taking place a few miles away from Foggy Bottom. And future developments in combating bioterrorism that will unroll under GW’s name are of interest to us all.

But a larger issue for the graduate school is accommodating the students there. With the large chunk of land GW now has at its disposal, the University should increase its ability to attract international students by building a residence hall. While most students commute to the campus from Virginia, GW would be in a better position to increase its stature if it was able to lure top talent from all parts to campus. This could also help feed more GW engineering graduates to the school.

Concerns from the University of Virginia that making the connection between Loudon County and Foggy Bottom stronger are at odds with GW’s educational mission to serve its students. If the University heeds requests to keep undergraduates away from its sister campus, students could miss out on all GW has to offer.

Having a successful, research-oriented arm of campus only serves to benefit everyone in the GW community. When research receives recognition, everyone shares in the strengthened reputation of the school, not to mention the revenue corporate and government contracts bring in.

Many of the nation’s top schools gain elite status through the research they do. GW is no different.

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