University presents new cost-saving ideas at task force forum

The Innovation Task Force presented nine new ideas to improve the University in an open forum Wednesday, the latest phase in the task force’s quest to spot opportunities for fundraising and efficient spending.

The nine new ideas could generate more than $7.6 million in revenue and $750,000 in cost savings. Using feedback from Wednesday’s forum, as well as from a forum held Monday on the Virginia campus, members of the task force will select six ideas to present to University President Steven Knapp for approval.

Among the new ideas up for consideration are a program to boost building energy efficiency; health programs for GW staff; a summer program for international students; a “weekend college” to earn a bachelor’s degree; and the creation of a micro January term between the fall and spring semesters for students to take classes – an idea first proposed last year but not selected for implementation.

Knapp implemented the Innovation Task Force in 2009, calling for a $60 million fund by 2015 from money saved and new revenue to go toward enhancing the academic experience for students and faculty. Since the first phase of ideas last year, the task force has identified $17.5 million in savings or earnings.

The GW Building Energy Efficiency Program – predicted to save $750,000 annually – calls for building updates to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using efficient light bulbs and by installing new technology to change how much power is used.

At $3.5 million, the Healthy Campus initiative would generate the most revenue, creating “wellness and incentive” programs for staff members, leading to fewer sick days and injuries.

The Bachelor’s Degree Weekend College would be a program for working adults to complete college degrees in 14 to 15-week semesters consisting of 20 courses.

At the forum, participants broke into groups to discuss the new ideas. Organizers said the main goal is to find more ways to support students.

“The bigger picture is to find more money to support research and other programs that will advance the academic experience,” University Provost Steven Lerman said.

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