Board of Trustees to vote on SEC

The University’s highest governing body will decide the fate of the Science and Engineering Complex Friday, effectively voting on GW’s future as a research University.

The SEC’s planning began in 2006, and the Board of Trustees will vote Friday on whether or not to proceed with the project, which at $275 million for initial construction and furnishing costs, is the most expensive project in the University’s history.

The SEC is expected to improve research, as it will provide a physical space the University hopes will be used for top-tier studies.

It is highly expected the board will vote in favor of the project.

Board Chairman Russell Ramsey said the board is prepared to make a decision on the project.

“We have received information throughout the year and we are ready to vote on whether to proceed with the project,” Ramsey said. “I think our board will be more than ready to make this decision after all the information is presented on Friday.”

The presentation before Friday’s vote is expected to include the latest architectural drawings of the facility, a description of how the building will be used, and updated cost estimates. The $275 million estimate has been disputed by members of the Faculty Senate for being too low an estimate.

The Faculty Senate has voiced hesitation about embarking on the expensive project. At the Faculty Senate’s monthly meeting Friday, the body voted to request additional information from the administration about the SEC but decided not to stall the board’s vote.

While some members of the senate expressed deep-seated concern for the project, professor Joseph Cordes said Friday’s vote effectively gave the board the “go ahead.”

Ramsey said the board views the complex as “key for GW to reach its aspirations to become a premier research institution in the nation’s capital.”

He expects the new facility to encourage more corporate and government partnerships with GW students and faculty.

“It will create a hub for technology exchange and technology education across the D.C. metro area,” Ramsey said.

Improving the University’s research status has been one of University President Steven Knapp’s focuses since he came to GW from Johns Hopkins University – one of the country’s premier research institutions – in 2007. The Innovation Task Force was launched in part to provide additional funds for research. Knapp appointed Dr. Leo Chalupa to the newly created position of vice president for research in 2009.

In addition to the main decision at hand, Friday will also be the board’s first meeting to be held at GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus. Ramsey hopes it will give new trustees a firsthand appreciation for GW’s growing research efforts and nursing and medical education in Virginia.

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