Letters to the Editor

Research quality already here

I have had a career spanning 25 years at GW without feeling compelled to write a letter to The Hatchet. However, the recent article “Magazine gives research a poor rank” (Nov. 15, p. 1) about the University’s research position seemed to me to miss the mark.

First, it comes after an amazing day showcasing the vibrancy of research on campus. Second, it fails to recognize scale as a factor in the statistics quoted by the Washington Monthly. For example, on most campuses, science departments are usually among the biggest contributors to both the total extramural research funding and the production of doctoral students. Our chemistry department has 11 tenure track faculty. The Web page of New York University’s chemistry department shows 27 faculty members. Boston University’s chemistry faculty roster includes 22 professors. Numbers are hard to come by, but I will bet that our per capita productivity by any objective measure stacks up pretty well against these two schools or, for that matter, most of the institutions “ranked” above us.

Of course, quantity is one thing. How about quality? I think we do pretty well there, too. Our faculty publishes in high-impact journals. Our Ph.D.’s are sought after by government research laboratories, by industry and, most telling, by other research universities. In fact, over the last decade roughly 20 percent of our chemistry Ph.D. students have gone on to faculty positions and, as near as I can tell, at universities who produce more Ph.D.’s and bring in more federal dollars than we do.

Should GW be satisfied with our status as a research university? Of course not. I, and my colleagues, have found plenty to gripe about over the years and I am sure we will continue to do so. However, every year that I have been here has been better than the one before and I know the new administration is committed to continuing that trend. With the construction of a new facility for science and engineering research, we will have a better infrastructure for the faculty and doctoral population that we have now, and we should expect growth in both the population of researchers and their per capita productivity. In the meantime, I think we can all take pride in how far we have come in producing high-impact research and graduates that will contribute their considerable intellect well into the future.

Houston Miller, Professor of Chemistry

Professor’s resignation welcome surprise

I was happily surprised to read of Hanna Diskin’s resignation from teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict course (Nov. 15, p. 1). I was enrolled in the class for one day and was so appalled (not to mention personally offended) by it that I immediately dropped the course. It’s very heartening to see that a group of responsible GW students took action against her extremely biased, anti-Arab views, which apparently made for a totally unproductive semester.

Leila Taha, Senior

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