SJT calls for combined degree

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg called for more accelerated combination bachelor’s, master’s and professional degrees at a faculty assembly meeting Monday.

Under the plan, top students would be able to take graduate level courses in their major during their fourth year and graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He also outlined a seven-year combined bachelor’s and law degree, a proposal already under consideration by an academic committee.

Trachtenberg’s proposals would have to be approved by the Board of Trustees and various academic departments. In his speech, he did not give a timeline for the implementation of his plan.

About 150 professors and administrators attended the faculty assembly, which was held in Ross Hall. Trachtenberg often uses his yearly faculty address to float new proposals.

In his 2002 speech, he discussed the benefits of a trimester system that would require students to take summer courses. Faculty and student dissent effectively killed Trachtenberg’s proposal in November 2003.

Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said he wholeheartedly supports Trachtenberg’s new proposals.

“(These proposals are) most exciting because of the opportunities to integrate undergraduate and graduate programs, and it is going to attract constituents from different markets that GW might not always reach out to,” Chernak said in an interview after the assembly.

He said the proposals would give students peace of mind by alleviating the stress of application to medical or law school; it would also save them money.

Officials said such efforts, if put into practice, should attract even more applicants to GW despite an already record number of 20,116 applications for the class of 2008. The class’s 38 percent acceptance rate is the lowest in GW history.

GW received almost as many applications as New York University and Boston College, Chernak said. In addition to a significant boost in applicants, the University doubled its black student enrollment and significantly increased its Hispanic enrollment.

On Monday, Trachtenberg cited one area in which the University needs to improve: graduation rate. Currently, 75 percent of a class will graduate in six years, which he said is “not good enough.” Administrators said they would like to see that number closer to 85 percent.

Besides discussion of academic success, Trachtenberg complimented the overall progress of construction efforts at the University. He cited Funger Hall, Townhouse Row and the Ivory Tower as examples of significant progress.

“We are especially excited for Dunkin’ Donuts to open so we can give our socially conscious students an alternative with fair trade coffee,” said Trachtenberg, referring to some students’ concerns that Starbucks uses subsidized coffee beans to make their product.

Trachtenberg said the new residence hall on F Street will boost the University’s housing capacity to 10,214 residents, which will “meet our goals and frustrate our neighbors,” he joked.

He added, “(GW is becoming) an academic force to be reckoned with.”

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