The School of Media and Public Affairs? $21 million. Duqu?s Hall? $56 million. The new GW Hospital? $96 million.
So what kind of building would you expect for around $300 million? On the off chance you answered, “GW’s proposed science center that will replace the parking garage at the corner of 22nd and H streets,” you would be right.
On Friday, Faculty Senate members debated a proposed plan for a science center that is a central part of GW’s 20-year Campus Plan. The science center is slated to cost anywhere between $180 and $270 million, though some professors said they have heard figures of $300 million or more.
Moaning about the fact that the University is spending money on the vast science center is useless. The 20-year Campus Plan is approved, and the time for debating what is in it has passed.
Now is the time for pushing the plan into the next stages, and most importantly, to make sure communication and transparency are maintained as the University moves into the process of securing funding sources.
Rapidly shaping up to be GW’s biggest undertaking ever, the science center’s fiscal specifics are hazy at best right now, and the University needs to take steps to fix this. In original proposals, administrators stated that funding for the center would come from Square 54 revenues, but there is little possibility of that revenue being able to cover the whole cost. According to Faculty Senate presenter professor Hermann Helgert, the plan is to cover the rest with research grants and donations.
While physical plans are still being developed, all parties must remain informed about the fiscal stability and planning process. This will ensure confidence in the project and the vision.
Publicizing the funding plans as they are developed will quiet criticism, but regardless, GW should move forward with this project because its benefits will be immense. It will be integral in attracting future talented students and professors to Foggy Bottom and raising the research profile of the University.
Georgetown is also in the midst of constructing a science center, and GW’s center will help the University stay competitive in our unique location. It will also be able to attract talented pre-med students to the GW Medical School.
The benefits will hopefully outweigh the costs and the science center must move forward, but the costs must also be identified. GW needs to let the rest of us in on this complicated process and explain where it plans to get this money.
This article appeared in the November 20, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.