ITF ideas focus on online expansion

The biggest money-making ideas pitched at Tuesday’s Innovation Task Force showcase would expand academic programming to outside groups like federal agencies, national service members, high school students and international students.

Out of the dozen proposals introduced in the fourth round of the initiative, an undergraduate online degree program for military members and their families, online college courses for high school students and an expansion of master’s programs to corporations and other outside organizations could make the biggest dent in the task force’s goal to find $60 million in annual academic investments.

“Over the past several cycles [of the ITF], we have attempted to bring some focus to each phase which allows the committee to explore in greater depth certain thematic areas,” task force co-chair Dave Lawlor said. “The items in Phase 4 that stand out to me are those focused on alternate delivery methods to selected target audiences, both the attention on military families, corporate clients and outreach to high school students.”

The showcase drew students, faculty and administrators to the Marvin Center to discuss the proposals, which were presented by phase four co-chairs Richard Cosentino, associate vice president for financial management, and James Mahshie, a professor of speech and hearing sciences.

Feedback from the event will help the ITF shape which six ideas GW should implement before University President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz determine the winning proposals next month.

Knapp created the task force in 2009 to funnel money into student, faculty and academic initiatives by raising money through philanthropic sources, increasing the productivity of the University’s research and instructional programs and finding savings in business processes.

Provost Steven Lerman is in charge of divvying up campus-wide funds based on appeals from the deans of the University and his senior staff. Resources saved within an individual college remain in that school and are administered under the purview of each dean.

Mahshie said while it was tough to keep up the momentum in another phase of the initiative, he was confident in the proposed ideas.

“To be honest, we sort of panicked,” Mahshie said. “We thought, ‘Oh God, all the good ideas have been taken.’ However, through the process of assembling the 13 people that were on this task force, we really started cranking. In the end, the 13 came up with 12 [ideas].”

The University may be able to count on $3.3 million in revenue from an new online degree program geared toward military families and veterans that would offer engineering and management courses at reduced tuition rates.

One benefit of all three online program proposals in the showcase would be not needing classroom space on the Foggy Bottom Campus, an increased focus for the ITF as the University nears a city-imposed enrollment cap.

Another proposal to offer GW courses online to high school students could generate $2.5 million in revenue while drawing in potential applicants. The University would first consider launching a pilot program with a local high school before it is offered to students around the world.

“I like the idea of tapping into a different market, of getting into the high school market in a way where perhaps you take advantage of the schools that have the highest reputation,” Lawlor said. “The best students are those that are likely to be thinking about these things while they’re still in high school.”

Gary Naegel, the Graduate School of Education and Human Development’s director of personnel and finance, said the program would “get GW out of geographic zones that it’s been dependent on for the last couple of years,” referring to the reliance on key feeder states like New York and New Jersey.

Marketing master’s programs to employees at outside organizations, like the World Bank, would generate about $2 million by attracting adult students who would take classes as an employee cohort.

The program, taught by adjunct faculty, would be modeled after an existing program in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, which runs an average of eight of these groups at the same time.

Among the other ideas introduced was a pre-health professional certificate program on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, which would allow recent college graduates to take math and science credits before applying to medical, nursing or veterinary schools. The certificate program could add $1 million in revenue by bringing in students who would not count under the city-imposed enrollment cap.

“I’m super confident this is going to be a winner for us,” Cosentino said.

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