Annu Subramanian: Winds of change at GW

This must be what the center of a storm looks like.

GW is evolving fast and shifting shape right before our eyes, and what a upheaval that is creating.

The University’s transformation is most notably physical. When I arrived at GW, The Avenue was just a hole in the ground on I street. Now built, the mammoth apartment complex has expanded the boundaries of campus. Construction sites dot almost every street on campus – physical signs that our campus is undergoing a much larger transformation. From the much-awaited Science and Engineering Hall to a new law learning center, the incessantly noisy construction will give birth to the creation of new campus learning spaces.

The school’s metamorphosis is also academic. Whereas the University was once a largely humanities-based institution, GW is becoming more research and science-oriented. This is a true rewriting of GW’s academic mantra. With its vaunted political science and international affairs programs, the University was once clearly defined as a school in-and-of the nation’s capitol. It is now becoming one that is more concerned with publishing in academic journals and conducting studies in the sciences.

The transformation is even based in GW’s athletics. Last spring the University hired Patrick Nero to head sports programs as athletics director. Shortly after coming to GW, Nero released longtime men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs and brought on Mike Lonergan to lead GW’s flagship sports team. Nero hopes to help GW’s athletics program as a whole to grow markedly from where it was when he arrived.

The way GW communicates and projects a public image is evolving, too. Managing and creating a unified message to project to the public has become a prominent development over the last few years. The University has even hired two firms to give our branding a facelift – more evidence that our public image is of principal importance.

There’s nothing quite as dizzying – and thrilling – as standing at the center of this storm and watching GW’s numerous changes unfold before our eyes. As such, it’s easy to sit back and let this transformation just happen to us. But the University’s identity and future are on the line. This much change requires vigilant and frequent scrutiny.

Perhaps none of us will be able to truly grasp the meaning of the University’s transformation until we can enjoy the crystal clarity of 20/20 hindsight. But by that time some reinventions might have pushed the University too far in a certain direction, and then it might be too late.

That’s why we shouldn’t ever take these changes for granted. For better or for worse, GW is an institution in transition, and that is a fact worth keeping a close eye on.

Clouds of change are gathering. Hold onto your hats.

The writer, a junior majoring in journalism, is the Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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