Trustees hear university plan

The Board of Trustees met Friday to approve next year’s budget and hear reports from administrators on the University’s academic strategic plan, first-responder training and research initiatives.

One year in to the three-to-five year academic strategic plan, which aims to build GW’s reputation and prestige, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman reviewed progress so far and outlined priorities for the future.

“What we’re really trying to do here of course is just sustain the momentum we’ve built up over the last few years,” Lehman said.

The plan includes a new freshman writing course, possibly hiring a new dean of freshmen and other retention initiatives and a review of GW’s doctoral programs.

He cited the creation of a writing program task force, improved retention and a planned doctoral program review as evidence of academic progress this year.

A randomly selected one-third of next year’s freshmen will take a four-credit course that will focus on critical reading, analysis, use of electronic sources and careful editing. The University plans to require the course for all freshmen, with two tracks – a normal section and a “stretch” course for those who need more help with writing skills.

Lehman reported that retention of students from freshman to sophomore year has improved from 88 to 92 percent in the last four years. The University’s six-year graduation rate, the percentage of students who remain at GW to graduate within six years, has improved from 67 to 74 percent in the same amount of time. He said administrators are aiming for this number to reach 80 percent.

The plan, Lehman said, is on schedule for total implementation in three to five years.

Daniel Kaniewski, executive director for the Center for Emergency Preparedness, updated the board on a plan to establish a first responder training center at the Loudon County, Va. campus.

“We’re not saying we can we are going to solve all of the nation’s emergency preparedness problems,” Kaniewski said. “We have special experts that can fill the gaps that now exist in the emergency preparedness system.”

Congress has appropriated $5 million to establish the Response to Emergencies and Disasters Institute (READI). Kaniewski described the technology planned for the institute, which includes real-time emergency simulations.

“This stuff is so realistic my heart was beating,” he said.

Provost and Vice President for Health Affairs John “Skip” Williams noted that GW has a 30-year history of training first responders and GW physicians have been present at many national disasters such as bombings in 1995 in Oklahoma City and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Carol Sigelman, associate vice president for research and graduate studies, presented GW’s six research goals to “move GW into the ranks of top-tier institutions.”

These goals include supporting an environment for research, increasing the quality and quantity of research and seeking more sponsorship for research. Sigelman, who also teaches psychology, reported GW awarded at least 50 doctoral degrees in 50 or more fields in 2001, one of only 48 universities in the country to do so.

Funding for research increased from about $89 million in 2001 to almost $105 million in 2002. Research monies have quadrupled since 1987 when they totaled $27 million doubled since 1996 when $50 million was set aside for research.

Research highlights this year include $5 million from the Ford Motor Co. for a National Crash Analysis Center at the Virginia Campus and $24 million in Columbian College of Arts and Science research that includes a new biostatistics center. Sigelman said the University hopes to increase opportunities for undergraduate research at GW.

Near the beginning of the meeting, the board recognized James Miller, who was named the Council for Advancement and Support of Education D.C. Professor of the Year, and Thomas Bryer, a GW student who was awarded the Herbert Roback Scholarship for the best public administration student in 2002. Prior to discussing business, Chairman Charles Mannatt called for a moment of silence for late board member Jin Ahn Cho, who passed away Feb. 5.

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