The University’s highest decision-making body is beginning to discuss the effects of implementing a mandatory summer session and altering GW’s credit structure. Although the Board of Trustees did not vote on specific proposals, members of the supervisory body are joining the year-old debate over altering GW’s academic calendar.
GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg addressed the University’s need for more revenue and steps GW is taking to research a mandatory summer session and other options during his remarks at the board’s fall meeting Friday.
“Our obligation is to be more imaginative … to think of the world as it will be,” he told the 36-member group and various University administrators.
He listed a plethora of projects that need funding, including new science laboratories, a building for the School of Public Health and Health Services and improving faculty pay.
“You and I know we are talking about money,” he said. “If we don’t earn it, we can’t spend it. If we don’t earn it, we can’t keep up the momentum.”
The Board of Trustees meets three times a year to approve University policies and acquisitions and would have to grant final approval for the implementation of a mandatory summer and converting to a four-credit, four-class structure.
The calendar was on the agenda during the Board’s Student Affairs and Academic Affairs committee meetings in addition to the group’s public session in the Marvin Center.
“We cannot continue to enlarge and improve the quality of the GW experience within the (financial) means currently available to us,” said Ambassador Charles Manatt, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Nobody is wedded to a specific system, but everyone is wedded to the commitment to create the best experience possible for all.”
Lydia Thomas, chair of the Board’s Committee on Academic Affairs, also stressed the need for the University to pursue other means of revenue to address academic needs.
“If we are pursuing the academic excellence that we wish to, we have to look at all mechanisms for revenue,” Thomas said.
Thomas said there is “clearly a dialogue” between administrators and faculty regarding the proposal. But she added that many members of the faculty have significant concerns about adding a mandatory summer and do not support the proposal in its current form.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman also addressed the Board, adding that the University is looking into a midterm winter session that would enable students to stay during winter break to take one or two classes.
Despite a record number of applicants last year, Student Affairs committee chair Cissy Baker said GW officials are researching how to continue improving applicant numbers with little national growth in the number of high school students. She also said officials are looking to improve the diversity of applicants.
She called the University’s decision to cut freshman merit awards by 25 percent successful because it frees up funds to help families of juniors and seniors.
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean William Frawley also addressed the Board, outlining the goals of GW’s largest college. He lauded the recently added Dean’s Seminars for freshmen and said the school is in talks with the Law School about setting up a B.A./J.D. program.