University not going out to sea
GW will not pursue the academic sponsorship of Semester at Sea, citing concerns over the study abroad program’s academic quality and the University’s ability to get the program off the ground by next semester.
In a statement on the administration’s decision last week to withdraw GW from the small pool of applicants vying to affiliate with Semester at Sea, Media Relations Director Tracy Schario cited the prolonged time and effort that would be needed to elevate the program to GW’s “academic standards and student expectations.”
“It was concluded that this effort would need to extend over a long period of time, with the resultant effect of diverting attention from higher institutional priorities,” the statement read.
Peter Konwerski, executive director of administrative partnerships, said that had the University had more time to prepare for the program, becoming Semester at Sea’s academic sponsor would have been a more practical option, but since GW would have to take over the program in just over six months, the University wouldn’t be ready at that time.
“The preparation would have included analyzing positions, creating a number of committees, finding work space and many other organizational decision that affect both personnel and other institutional resources,” Konwerski wrote in an e-mail to the Hatchet. “Had we had what traditionally would have been a two year time frame to research and develop a program with (Semester at Sea), it would have likely been a more viable option for GW to consider.”
The release also listed Semester at Sea’s “fundamental philosophy,” where the program brings students to countries in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe, to be in conflict with GW’s focus on “immersion in one program versus multiple ports of call.”
The University of Pittsburgh has sponsored Semester at Sea since 1981 and will sponsor two more voyages this school year before the program moves to a different university.
Approximately 20 schools were initially interested in the program, before Semester at Sea officials whittled that number down to five top contenders, including GW. The Institute for Shipboard Education, which runs Semester at Sea, will select an academic sponsor by the end of the semester.