Officials gear up for Board update on goals

Administrators leading University President Steven Knapp’s major projects said they will devote the coming months to implementing ideas formed last semester.

In the fall, Knapp said a new academic strategic plan, a comprehensive fundraising campaign, a marketing overhaul and an evaluation of student career services topped his list of priorities. Last semester was largely spent organizing and planning how to execute the president’s agenda, the administrators said.

“I receive regular updates on their progress and have been pleased by the pace with which each of these processes is proceeding,” Knapp, who has taken a laissez-faire approach to overseeing the vice presidents’ and deans’ efforts, said.

Administrators will provide formal updates on their progress at the Feb. 10 meeting of the Board of Trustees before moving forward.

Knapp’s contract was extended for an extra five years at the last trustees meeting in October, giving the University’s 16th president more time to make his mark. In his first four years, Knapp hired a team of administrators who have aggressively pursued his key long-term priorities: increasing fundraising and advancing GW’s academic reputation, primarily through research.

Provost Steven Lerman is spearheading the effort to write a new University-wide strategic plan, which will outline academic goals for the decade leading up to GW’s 200th anniversary.

Last semester, the provost held a series of brainstorming forums with students, staff and academic departments to consider the educational environment GW will face in the next decade. Lerman said the group anticipated a handful of trends, ranging from a tapering college-age population in America to economic growth in developing countries and increased global interconnectivity.

“To always assume that you plan for the world as it is today seems like a terrible mistake,” Lerman said.

After spending a semester gathering information, the steering committee will soon roll out a handful of broad themes for the final plan, such as globalization.

Lerman estimated that the final draft of the plan would be unveiled at the board’s next meeting in October. The existing strategic plan was published in 2002 and took three years to formulate.

To match the strategic plan’s overarching vision for GW’s future, a rebranding effort announced last summer seeks to streamline the University’s visual message, also coinciding with Knapp’s focus on public relations.

Last semester, administrators, deans and selected faculty, along with staff and students vetted initial ideas for a visual marketing campaign, including a new logo that will be used on all University materials.

“We are now in the process of assessing and incorporating all the feedback we have received,” Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles said. “Our goal is to capture the uniqueness of an education at George Washington and highlight our research, academics and vibrant student life.”

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger, who is overseeing the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, also plans to use the February board meeting as a launching pad for initial ideas conceived last semester.

Morsberger said the campaign will be woven into the strategic and visual identity plans this summer, although its “quiet phase” will extend another one to two years. The fundraising goal will not be announced until the anticipated public launch in 2014 or 2015.

Analysis of untapped donors and development priorities will shape the scope of the campaign moving forward, Morsberger said, noting record-breaking fundraising during last year and the first half of this fiscal year.

“We want to be counted among the most elite universities in this country, and therefore the world,” he said.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski, in charge of efforts to reevaluate student career services, also said last semester was spent organizing ideas for upping the chances of employment for GW’s graduates. The overhaul will aim to better integrate University-wide services and school-specific centers – which have faced student criticism in the past.

The Career Services Task Force, launched in June 2010, yielded a career services advisory council that has met monthly since its formation in November.

The council’s 16 members – including leaders of all campus career centers and two students – discuss trends in college career advising, their individual school’s best practices and potential University-wide areas for career services expansion, Executive Director of University Initiatives Robert Snyder said.

Representatives formed several teams to explore opportunities for growth, including expanding employer relations, setting student learning outcomes and providing ongoing training to career services staff.

The revamped career services will aim to engage students sooner, “from here at CI to here at Commencement,” Konwerski said.

He will also present the project’s progress to the Board of Trustees next month.

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