Staff Editorial: An administrator departs, a budget falls short and a faculty code is up for review

The Hatchet’s editorial board looked at some of the biggest news from the past week, including the departure of fundraising chief Mike Morsberger, the University’s $20 million budget shortfall and the possibility of some standardized rules and regulations across GW’s 10 schools.

How to fill the shoes of a GW giant
The University’s fundraising chief was a big personality on campus, and we’re sorry to see him go. Mike Morsberger has not only been the face of the $1 billion fundraising campaign, but he has also essentially been a GW cheerleader for the duration of his four-year tenure.

At a school where just a handful of administrators are accessible, Morsberger’s passion was readily apparent, and his openness will be missed. He joins a line of recently departed officials who had the same qualities – former Deputy Title IX Coordinator Tara Pereira and former Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak among them.

Although there’s no good time for the head of a hefty fundraising campaign to depart, experts seem confident that Morsberger and his office have already laid enough of the foundation that the campaign will remain steady. And since Morsberger said he left for personal reasons, he was likely making the best choice for himself.

It will be crucial, though, that GW find a replacement who will maintain the momentum. Morsberger was a massively successful fundraiser and powered GW’s office from the paltry operation it once was to the behemoth it’s now trying to become. That’s no easy feat, and obviously a replacement exactly like him isn’t just waiting around the corner.

It’d also be excellent if Morsberger’s successor was as personable and committed to this school as he was. If anyone on this campus should bleed buff and blue, it’s the chief fundraiser. We had that in Morsberger, and we hope we can see that in the future, too.

Unpleasant surprises in the University’s budget
We recently found out that GW has had to make up for a $20 million budget shortfall. Admittedly, $20 million is only about 1 percent of the University’s annual operating budget, so we don’t have to panic over this deficit. Faculty leadership have assured us that the $20 million isn’t earth-shattering and GW has done its best to minimize the impact.

But there were still significant ramifications: 10 percent of the resulting cuts have affected schools.

It’s clear that the University has tried to concentrate the cuts in non-academic areas, like the offices of the treasurer and the president. That’s encouraging, since GW has had issues with administrative bloat in the past, and we would hope that its first move would be to look for cuts in administrative departments.

GW lost $10 million in projected revenue because of a drop in graduate enrollment, which is unfortunate and largely out of the school’s control. In fact, declining enrollment in graduate schools is a problem across the country, not just at GW.

The other $10 million, though, was used to cover surprise costs. Unsurprisingly, administrators have neglected to explain exactly what those surprises were.

Such a blatant lack of transparency and accountability is a scary precedent to set. Since almost anything could be called “unexpected,” there’s potential for more costs to be passed off that way in the future. The University has made cuts in areas that directly affect students, and we only know half the reason why. Refusing to give us a breakdown of the $10 million makes the University appear like it is trying to hide something.

The Faculty Association is pushing GW to be more transparent in its budgeting process, and the Board of Trustees hopes to gain more oversight. This is something the student body should readily stand behind – since we’re already wary of the secrets the University keeps from us.

Streamlining bureaucracy
Soon each of GW’s 10 schools could be required to set uniform rules and regulations about certain topics. Chair of the Board of Trustees Nelson Carbonell has established a set of working groups to undertake a review of the faculty code and streamline practices across campus.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because Carbonell started this process almost exactly a year ago. Back then, though, he jumped into it without much planning – for starters, he admitted he hadn’t even read the code. It prompted outcry from professors (as well as this editorial board) who feared the University’s highest governing body would rewrite how they operate without faculty input. Soon after, Carbonell backtracked. But this time, he is taking a more steadied approach, and professors are coming on board.

The review will aim to standardize some of the more big-picture rules that all schools have in common, like the processes for giving professors tenure and conducting dean searches. Those are two areas that have caused a good deal of faculty strife, and among other things were the reasons the Faculty Association formed as an opposition group to the Faculty Senate in the spring.

Carbonell doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, here, either. If the review takes into account the recommendations of faculty members, it will be able to evaluate the best practices of each of the schools, determine who has the smoothest processes and apply them across the board. This may go a long way in soothing some recent faculty tensions.

Carbonell might not be able to unite the faculty again as one big happy family, but reworking the rules that govern their lives to make them more efficient would certainly be an improvement.

The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Robin Jones Kerr and contributing opinions editor Sarah Blugis, based on discussions with managing director Justin Peligri, sports editor Sean Hurd, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and design editor Sophie McTear.

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