Museum Studies’ move off Foggy Bottom helps satisfy enrollment restrictions

The Museum Studies Program moved from its townhouse in Foggy Bottom to an office building in Metro Center last week, part of the University’s ongoing effort to stay under a city-imposed population cap.

By relocating several graduate-level programs and courses, GW hopes to mitigate enrollment concerns while offering new opportunities and resources for students who tend to live off campus.

With about 100 students, museum studies is one of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ largest graduate programs but also one of its least reliant on the Foggy Bottom Campus. Museum studies courses are regularly held in museums across the city.

Program director Kym Rice welcomed the move to 13th and G streets because of the location’s proximity to D.C.’s top museums. The new space is also an upgrade from the program’s former location at 21st and F streets, which suffered ceiling damage during last August’s earthquake, she said.

“It’s not like we’ve been moved to Siberia. Our space is much, much nicer than what we had on Foggy Bottom,” Rice said. “Yes, it’ll be a little less convenient to go back to Foggy Bottom to go to [Gelman Library], and some faculty have said that they miss being a block away from the library.”

The University is leasing the office space, Rice said, which holds one large classroom, one small classroom and nine faculty offices.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman said the cost of the space is mostly “built into the rent,” which he did not disclose.

In September, the Foggy Bottom Campus fell only about 200 students short of exceeding the District’s limit of 20,000 both full-time and part-time students – too close for comfort in the eyes of top administrators. Full-time student enrollment, which is capped at 16,533, reached 15,652 this year.

The enrollment cap, put in place by the University’s 2007 campus plan, limits how many students can live and take classes on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. Administrators have maintained that they will comply with the cap, which regulates disruption in residential areas.

“There are some programs where it’s really made sense for them to move off campus and those are the ones that we’re moving,” Maltzman said. “What we want to do is innovate and be strategic about our programs.”

He added that moving museum studies has given Columbian College sufficient enrollment leeway to launch a Jewish cultural arts master’s program in Foggy Bottom next fall, which will be housed in the Judaic Studies building on 21st and G streets.

Maltzman said the University has not yet decided which academic program would fill museum studies’ former townhouse. GW “will continue addressing any safety issues that arose as a result of the quake,” he added.

In recent years, the art therapy program moved to Alexandria, Va., the forensic sciences department relocated to the Mount Vernon Campus and the legislative affairs program in the Graduate School of Political Management set up shop near Capitol Hill.

Maltzman said he expects greater selectivity of graduate applicants and the growth of online courses to aid the University’s efforts to stay within the population cap.

The number of graduate students at GW increased by 1,333 between 2006 and 2010 according to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

The School of Business will also shift a portion of its master’s courses in business administration to the University’s Graduate Education Center in Arlington, Va. in the fall.

Murat Tarimcilar, the business school’s vice dean for programs and education, said the move would prove more convenient for graduate students who live in Virginia in addition to providing population cap relief.

“The University encouraged us to invest in off-campus programs, and obviously this University is trying to [have] a presence in northern Virginia,” Tarimcilar said. “They made sure that, without hurting the programs, we could move some graduate programs off campus. I think we found a very good solution.” 

Chinese students enrolled in the business school’s new master of science in finance program – which launched this year with courses at Renmin University in China and will move to the U.S. in the fall – will also take courses in Arlington.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.