Faculty Senate report critical of 4×4 plan

The lower number of classes and reduced time spent in each class in a possible four-by-four class structure would be profitable for the University, but would not improve academics, according to a report issued by Faculty Senate representatives to the four-by-four task force.

The report, discussed at Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting, comes as the four-by-force task force readies for its May 6 vote on whether to recommend the plan. Four-by-four would require students to take four classes worth four credits each in a semester. The vote was originally scheduled to take place this month.

If recommended, a four-by-four report would be reviewed by each of the schools within the University and by the Education Policy Committee of the Faculty Senate.

A Faculty Senate representative to the task force, Bob Dunn, called the four-by-four plan “a solution looking for a problem.”

The Faculty Senate report said the representatives supported academic improvements, but within the current five-by-three curricular structure. The report said this could be accomplished by restructuring the curriculum and changing the way students are recruited by the University.

“We need the GWU identity to be that of a ‘top tier’ school, not just one that happens to be located in Washington,” the report read.

Others present at the Faculty Senate meeting said the school should focus on integrating opportunities unique to GW, such as internships offered in the city, rather than attempting to decrease the emphasis on the benefits of GW’s Washington location when recruiting students.

“What the (task force committee) is saying is to have greater connectivity between what is happening outside and what is happening inside,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president of Academic Affairs at the meeting.

Lehman said it was the three student representatives on the task force who most emphasized the need to integrate internships into the curriculum.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was skeptical of ignoring what he called the “natural advantages” of GW in attempts to improve academic engagement at GW.

“I’d be cautious about being too hostile to the Washington location,” he said Friday.

Since its formation in April 2005, the task force has held 17 two-hour meetings to discuss the pros and cons of the four-by-four plan.

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