Faculty senate approves construction priorities, sets science center as #1

The Faculty Senate voted Friday to pass a resolution that prioritizes the University’s academic building needs, putting a new science center at the top of the list. All construction is pending the approval of GW’s 20-year Campus Plan, which will be voted on in January.

The resolution looks only at what they the University needs in order to better teach students and conduct research.

“We’re talking here about programmatic needs,” said Linda Gallo, the chair of the physical facilities committee of the faculty senate.

Commissions are examining the financial states of the programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the programs in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development after they failed to make enough revenue to cover their costs, a University official said.

Faculty Senate Chair Lilien Robinson said the resolution’s emphasis on giving schools better facilities to conduct research was in line with the vision for the future of the University, as outlined by the President-elect Steven Knapp, who said he would like to see GW become a top tier research institution.

“The focus is just right; we should be addressing academic priorities,” she said.

Sylvia Marotta, a counseling professor, called the resolution a grassroots effort by the faculty in contrast to the four-by-four plan where faculty members have complained of not having input at the beginning of the process, and of administrators putting monetary concerns before academic needs.

“Finances should follow the needs of the programs,” Marotta said.

Second to construction of the science center, which will provide space science and engineering programs, are projects related to the School of Public Health and Health Services which were deemed the top priority on the Medical Center side of the University.

The University plans to build a science and engineering complex on I Street between 22nd and 23rd streets, where a parking garage now sits. The current campus plan limits construction projects, making it impossible for the University to vertically expand the existing building.

“Right now, anything is almost moot,” pointed out Anthony Yezer, an economics professor.

Between 50 and 60 percent of the building costs would need to be generated through fundraising, said the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman.

GW plans to use revenue from leasing the Square 54 property to build the new science center. The Zoning Commission will have a second hearing on Square 54 in January.

The Senate rejected a clause of the resolution that said advancement activities should be directed towards raising funds for these building projects, deciding that a recommendation dealing with fund raising strayed away from the intent of the resolution.

“A building is an all or nothing thing,” said Laurel Price Jones, vice president for Advancement. “We have to go after things where we can be successful.”

Price Jones said she could work with the Faculty Senate to develop an advancement committee that could thoroughly examine issues of fundraising and where funds should be allocated.

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