Staff Editorial: Semester in review: Boosting faculty and research morale

This is the first in a two-part staff editorial reviewing GW’s fall semester and evaluating the state of campus morale. First up: faculty and research.

Faculty, draw enthusiasm from students
Over the past semester, our faculty have made headlines, largely by battling with the administration on issue after issue, including health care costs and, most recently, tuition benefits. They’ve even formed an organization to advocate for their interests, the Faculty Association, though the administration continues to only recognize the often-stagnant Faculty Senate.

As students, this gives us a bit of pause. We can understand how our professors’ morale might have deteriorated this semester, given the lack of resolution on their benefits. The sheer existence of the Faculty Association is an indicator of dissatisfaction.

It’s easy for us, as students, to draw our pride from the city in which we live or our successful sports teams. But it’s the enthusiasm of professors that gets us, the students, excited to go to class every day – and more than that, makes us feel a sense of pride for our schoolwork and GW that we might otherwise lack. We’d hate to see that enthusiasm wane because of frustrating battles with higher-ups.

Professors who engage with their students outside of the classroom are the ones we remember. Those who take special care to attend their students’ sporting events, follow them on Twitter or participate in events like Midnight Breakfast are the ones we look forward to seeing every day. They care about us and in turn, we care about them.

Professors, when you go above and beyond the call of duty, we remember what it’s like to get excited about school. In a college career filled with internships, demanding social lives and finding a community on campus, good professors and solid classes serve as our anchors and morale boosters.

It might be silly to think you’ve forgotten this, but after a tumultuous semester, we wanted to remind faculty that you can turn to us, your students, for the same buoying purpose. Regardless of the daily battles you fight with the University, and even though you may feel like you’re not making any progress cutting through the thick fog of bureaucracy, just remember that as students, we appreciate your commitment to our education – and to us.

Look to research accomplishments
So we’re not calling the Science and Engineering Hall a mistake – but we’re not NOT doing that.

GW decided to build the $275 million building, its largest-ever academic investment, in hopes that it would not only serve as a boost to our school’s existing science and engineering programs, but that it would propel the University into the next level of research.

That vision is being threatened by shaky funding options for the building’s construction, and a screeching halt to the fundraising efforts that were supposed to ensure economic stability.

One may be tempted to dismiss this current state of uncertainty as a growing pain, a necessary headache on the road to success. And sure, 30 years down the road, officials hope to have paid off the debt we’ve incurred to build the hall.

But for the time being, the fundraising failure is nerve-wracking. The University is forced to pay for the building by taking on debt, and such a massive miscalculation with long-lasting consequences brings down the campus community.

We’re annoyed that the University wants to push us into the future while preventing our growth in the present. Now GW will use the $9 million it makes annually from The Avenue complex – originally meant to fund other programs and building renovations – to cover the remaining costs.

Instead of leaving us hopeful that GW will become a nationally recognized research institution with a top engineering program, we’re left worrying about the state of GW’s finances. Because of a budget shortfall, we’ve already seen fewer adjunct professors hired back and some course sections cut.

The Science and Engineering Hall may be the most visible indicator that GW is trying to enter the field of research. But don’t let the negative associations with this building obscure the fact that our professors and researchers are doing big things.

That’s the light at the end of this seemingly never-ending tunnel. Impressive research continues to come out with a GW stamp on it, like landing rockets on comets, discovering a 2,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel and even experimenting with 3-D organ printing.

These are inspiring, noteworthy events, but unfortunately, they seem to have been overshadowed by the sloppy establishment of a new hall.

The building may be problematic, even embarrassing. But it’s success stories like these from which we should draw our campus research pride. Students pay attention when we hear our school sent a project into space.

That’s something to celebrate, even when financial woes prevent us from bragging about the newest campus landmark. And it’s a sign that despite the negative press, there is a future for research at GW.

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 Nora Princiotti, design editor Sophie McTear, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and senior designer Anna McGarrigle.

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