Staff Editorial: Recognition for GW’s research efforts

Many students attend GW for its reputation and expertise in the fields of political science and international affairs.

Yet added to that list should be research, after a well-known study included GW as a school that demonstrates “very high research activity.”

And considering the emphasis that GW administrators have placed on increasing the University’s reputation as research institution, it is a welcome nod to our efforts that an outside organization found GW’s work in this field commendable. GW is clearly moving in the right direction, and we hope that in the years ahead the University expands its research base, as it is beneficial to students and faculty alike.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching – a nonprofit research foundation dedicated to supporting education – releases its study in order to provide researchers with insight into the country’s various research institutions. GW’s ranking as a “very high research activity” institution places it among similar 4-year private institutions like Harvard, MIT, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities. The schools that garnered this title are doctorate-granting universities, meaning that they award “at least 20 research doctoral degrees during the update year,” excluding law and medical doctorates.

While this listing does not look at the merit of the research itself, it does note that GW is taking steps to provide research opportunities to those who seek them. As previous rankings put GW at the level of “high research activity,” this recognition marks a heightened and newfound focus on research at this University.

GW administrators deserve credit for this change, specifically President Steven Knapp and Vice President of Research Leo Chalupa. Both administrators have made it their priority to turn GW into a top research institution.

In an op-ed for The Hatchet in 2007, Knapp said, “By matching the excellence of our instruction with the strength of our research, we will join the ranks of truly world-class universities and fully ensure the value of a GW degree.” In April of last year, Chalupa said that one of his goals was to make GW a top 80 research institution in the next 5 years.

This progress marks a definitive shift in the way GW is marketing itself. While GW used to be a primarily liberal arts learning institution, it is now benefitting from the premium expertise of a research-driven faculty. This may represent a new identity for GW, one that GW has not yet fully explored but has the room to do so.

What does this mean for students? It means that in addition to the education undergraduates receive here, if they want to pursue a higher degree at GW, they will have more research opportunities within that graduate experience. It means that GW could attract more well-renowned faculty to use our facilities to conduct cutting-edge research. It means that GW’s reputation as a whole will improve.

The focus on research is a relatively newer concept for GW. But the recognition from an outside organization that commends schools for their dedication to research shows that GW is living up to the legacy administrators want it to. In the meantime, this shift in focus may be new, but it bodes well for all students and the University as a whole. GW couldn’t stay the political science and international affairs school forever, and expect to gain more national recognition.

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