Results of an audit of GW’s enrollment numbers, which affect the University’s campus development plan, are scheduled to be released this week.
The audit, conducted through D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, was spurred by an Advisory Neighborhood Commission resolution last winter that called for a review of GW’s enrollment. The commission called for the audit because of numbers GW reported to the Internal Revenue Service and the numbers submitted for the
Campus Plan were different. The Campus Plan is an agreement between the University and the community that outlines development and is set to expire in 2009.
The University’s Campus Plan states that GW will comply with an enrollment cap of 20,000 students. If GW exceeds this enrollment cap, it cannot apply for future construction projects.
Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations, said that the IRS numbers differ from the campus plan enrollment figures due to different counting methods and because IRS numbers include students on the Mount Vernon Campus, which are not required for the Campus Plan’s count.
“What the audit is auditing is the enrollment methodology that we have been using under the current Campus Plan,” Schario said.
Ellen McCarthy, director of D.C.’s Office of Planning, said the Sept. 14 hearing on the 20-year Campus Plan will have to be canceled if the audit finds that GW has exceeded the enrollment cap. GW has been working on passing a 20-year Campus Plan, which outlines the University’s future development.
“We can’t go forward with a public hearing … for the (20-year) Campus Plan if they are not in compliance,” she said.
At the Aug. 16 ANC meeting, Foggy Bottom Association president Joy Howell accused GW of jeopardizing the student enrollment audit by corresponding with D.C. city officials via e-mail.
“I have here evidence that GW has been communicating with DCRA,” Howell said holding up copies of e-mails from Bill Crews, DCRA zoning administrator, to Charles Barber, GW’s senior counsel.
DCRA spokesperson Karyn Robinson said her department believes the audit is going smoothly. She said that the DCRA’s cooperation with the University isn’t unethical.
“The auditing firm is bound by professional standards,” Robinson said.
Throughout the summer. Foggy Bottom community groups continued to fight the 20-year development plan
The Foggy Bottom/West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which advises the D.C. Zoning Commission on development issues, passed a resolution this month against GW’s application for its 20-year Campus Plan.
The ANC claims that GW isn’t complying with the current Campus Plan and that it plans to use Square 54 – the old hospital site – for investment, rather than academic, purposes.
One significant change in the proposed campus plan is increased building heights, with maximum heights increasing from 90 to 110 feet. McCarthy said this should not adversely affect the community.
“If the University were to increase their density and keep students the same it would really not have any adverse impact on the neighborhood around them,” McCarthy said. She added that it wouldn’t affect the community because the new, more vertical development will be concentrated in the center of campus, farther from the Foggy Bottom residential areas.
Another community complaint is that GW has not offered to move its development efforts to alternate sites in the District.
“I strongly believe that the Office of Planning erred in not encouraging more strongly alternative locations,” Vince Micone, chair of the Foggy Bottom/West End ANC.
Micone used as an example the Georgetown Law Center, which is in Northeast D.C. “It ended up being good for students and for the community,” Micone said of the law school’s location.
Howell voiced a similar opinion.
“If GW wants to build a cancer center, why don’t they build it in Anacostia?” she said.
At the ANC meeting Aug. 16, Sherry Rutherford, managing director of Real Estate Planning and Development, said that the Mount Vernon and Northern Virginia campuses relieve unnecessary stress on Foggy Bottom. Many of the University’s administrative and support offices are located in its Ashburn, Va., campus.
On July 28, a court dismissed a Foggy Bottom Association lawsuit against D.C. government agencies for working with GW while it was allegedly noncompliant with the current campus plan. In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman wrote that he dismissed the case because the federal government has no jurisdiction in municipal matters.
The FBA had filed an injunction in the suit that, if granted, would have halted all GW zoning applications and construction, making completion of Potomac House and J Street projects impossible by the start of classes.
Public hearings on the 20-year campus plan are scheduled for Sept. 14, 21, 25 and 28 in the Zoning Commission’s building at Judiciary Square.