University President Steven Knapp has stated his intent to make GW a more visible research institution by encouraging faculty to work across departments and with the District.
But according to Washington Monthly magazine, Knapp has inherited a university lacking in that very area. In the latest rankings, GW placed 83rd nationwide for number of research grant dollars awarded and 95th for number of Ph.D.s awarded.
The undergraduate to Ph.D. student ratio was even worse: GW ranked No. 114, far behind peer institutions Boston (44) and New York universities (68).
The Center for Measuring University Performance, a group that ranks research universities across several areas, also found GW trailing universities regarded as peer schools. Several GW professors said that they are unable to expand their Ph.D. programs because of a lack of money.
Cynthia Deitch, a field adviser for the gender and social policy department in the Public Policy and Public Administration Ph.D. program, said that although the program is one of just a few of its kind and attracts strong candidates, it is limited to only a few students graduating per year because of funding constraints.
“We could advertise more but then we would have to turn more students down,” said Kathryn Newcome, the associate dean of the School of Public Policy and Public Administration. “It would always be good to grow in the form of more money for more students.”
The GW School of Business doctoral programs have seen improvement in recent years, but the program only begun its expansion a few years ago.
“Since the redesign of our program in 2005, we have strengthened our program to make it more competitive with our peer schools,” said Prabir Bagchi, senior associate dean of the School of Business.
Bagchi noted that a weakness in the program is a lack of fully-funded fellowships for doctoral students, which are allocated by Academic Affairs.
Political science professor Lee Sigelman said that his department has vastly improved in the 18 years he has been in Foggy Bottom.
“It was not a highly productive research institution,” Sigelman said of GW in 1989. But a decade and a half later, the department is drastically different, attracting some of the most talented young faculty and researchers in academia.
Sigelman, who recently completed a year as editor of the American Political Science Review, a prestigious academic journal, has a unique perspective on GW’s status as a research institution.
“Having a widely recognized political science program has been a real selling point for the University,” Sigelman said, explaining one reason why the University has been eager to fund it.
Newcomer said doctoral programs are “the icing on the cake” for the school.
“It’s something we do because that is what universities do,” Newcomer said.
The school receives about 160 applications every year for about 12 available slots, making the program extremely competitive.
“We have fantastic students. The people we get are just very, very accomplished,” Newcomer said, adding that they are usually older than 30 and received higher than a 3.8 GPA in their master’s program.
Newcomer pointed out that while the School of Public Policy and Public Administration is ranked No. 10 in U.S. News and World Report, it is hard to judge a school without looking at its specific programs.
“Those things are totally subjective in our field,” Newcomer said. “Frankly, we’re just as good as the people in first or second.”