A long commute: Some profs. live hundreds of miles from GW

A long walk to an early morning class may be the worst that a student could face on a cold Monday morning. Yet for some professors, a long plane or train ride are what’s in store after they roll out of bed.

Christopher Arterton, dean of the Graduate School of Political Management, lives in New Haven, Conn., but has been working at GW’s Foggy Bottom campus since 1991. His office and home are about 300 miles apart.

“I very much like what I’m doing and think the school needs to be in D.C., but my wife has a lovely job in New Haven and this is a sacrifice,” Arterton said. “There isn’t any better place to do politics, and it’s worth the personal strain.”

Arterton is not alone. A handful of GW professors travel hundreds of miles every week to go to work.

Alexander Dumbadze, an assistant professor of art history, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. He said he thinks the practice of traveling far distances to work is becoming more common.

“It seems to be a growing reality,” Dumbadze said.

Dumbadze teaches his class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He lives with his wife in New York, but he stays in D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

“I don’t find it a problem,” Dumbadze said. “It’s hardly an inconvenience. I do work on the train … I would prefer doing that than sitting in traffic for two hours.” He declined to elaborate on how much his commute and housing costs. The two cities are more than 200 miles apart.

As a professional involved in art, Dumbadze said he benefits from living in D.C. and New York.

“There’s great material in both cities,” he said.

Arterton explained that he first began his lengthy commute in 1991. Until then, the GSPM was located in New York City, which was only a commuter train ride away from his New Haven home.

Now, he stays in The President, an apartment on I Street, from Monday to Wednesday night and catches the 9 p.m. plane back to New Haven on Thursday night.

“The only time I really mind it is Sunday night, when I’m packing,” he said.

Though he declined to say how much his travel and living arrangements cost, Arterton said he has to pay for both himself – and they’re expensive. Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for Academic Planning, told The Hatchet he was not aware of any special programs established to assist commuting professors.

Sophomore Garin Beitler, who is in Dumbadze’s contemporary European art class, said the professor has never canceled or been late to class despite the commute. He added that Dumbadze is accessible to students as well.

Kimberly Gross, an assistant professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs, was named a spring fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Gross stays in her apartment in Cambridge, Mass., from Sunday to Thursday but comes back home to D.C. for the rest of the days of the week. The journey is more than 400 miles.

“The reason I come home every weekend is because of my family,” said Gross, who has a husband and two children, ages 2 and 6.

“If I had gotten a job … we probably would have moved, but it’s only for a semester,” Gross added.

Arterton said that even though he makes the trek from Connecticut to D.C. and back every week, other people may have even worse commutes.

“I see people in the airport who commute to Dallas from New Haven,” he said.

Gross, commenting on why professors are willing to make such journeys, said, “I think you do what you have to do.”

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