Frosh class prompts more prof. hires, sections

With the University set to welcome its largest freshmen class ever, officials have hired more professors and added extra class sections to accommodate a higher-than-expected student population.

Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said extra funds have been allocated to various schools and University departments to hire more professors and open up new class sections for the 2,600 freshmen that will begin classes Sept. 1. The new sections will keep GW’s average class size at 28.

An extra $600,000 has been divided among the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Elliott School of International Affairs, School of Business, and University Honors program. Popular subjects, such as political science, psychology and Spanish, are receiving the most additional sections and professors.

“On the basis of the number of freshmen, I’ve worked with the undergraduate deans to determine the additional funds they would need,” Lehman said.

The extra funds are needed because GW initially prepared for a 2,400-person incoming class. The population projection for the class of 2008 was exceeded by 200 after a higher percentage of admitted students decided to enroll at GW.

CCAS Dean William Frawley said that while his school will be receiving the most new students, he believes the high freshman population will not negatively affect anyone’s academic experience.

“I do not expect much noticeable class size increases,” Frawley wrote in an e-mail. “We have?approached this?mostly by adding additional new classes in order to maintain, as best we can, our commitment to an engaged learning environment.”

Frawley said students would be taking more 8 a.m. and Friday classes. At least 40 percent of classes that meet two days a week will be held on Fridays during the fall semester, officials told The Hatchet earlier this year.

Grae Baxter, interim director of the University Honors Program, said her department would be receiving 22 more freshmen than it originally expected, and that the new funds provide a big boost to honors students and faculty.

“Vice President Lehman generously provided extra funding to us to maintain our academic standards and small class sizes,” Baxter said, referring to a 20-student cap on all honors classes.

She said the extra $13,000 the honors program has received was used to open up new proseminars, classes that all honors freshmen must take during their first fall and spring at GW.

This year’s freshman class eclipsed the 2001 class in becoming the largest incoming group that GW has welcomed. Lehman cited the University’s successful accommodation of the 2001 freshman class as a sign that GW will experience no problems adjusting to this year’s incoming students.

But this year, the University is accommodating a large freshman class while dealing with across-the-board budget cuts totaling $3 million. Lehman said the extra tuition revenue generated from the new group of students enabled officials to fund the extra class sections.

“The additional students generated additional revenue to help us meet our academic goals,” he said.

In addition to the budget cuts, GW is also dealing with the classroom closings that have accompanied the construction of the new School of Business building. About two-thirds of the classrooms in Funger Hall, which is adjacent to the construction site and will be linked to the new building, will be closed until 2007.

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