2017 was a year of major changes on campus including the arrival of a new University president and a new occupant of the White House just a few blocks away, but the next 12 months are likely to be just as significant at GW.
This year, the University will likely fill several major administrative positions, complete an external Title IX review and oversee the first Greek life recruitment period under a newly implemented deferred recruitment policy.
Here’s what to watch out for in 2018:
This year officials are likely to fill vacancies in key administrative positions. In the coming weeks, the University is expected to start the search for a new dean of student affairs as long-time administrator Peter Konwerski steps down from the role. Konwerski will stay on as a special adviser on the student experience this spring while officials seek his replacement.
Officials are also likely to name replacements for Gabriel Slifka, the former director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities who left his role in October after being called for military service, and Glenn Egelman, the former head of the Colonial Health Center who stepped down in September shortly after taking the job.
The University will also likely name a new athletic director after Patrick Nero left his role last month. As University President Thomas LeBlanc’s team continues to take shape, more staff changes could be in store for the coming year.
Deferred recruitment begins
This month, freshmen will participate in formal Greek life recruitment in the spring semester for the first time as the University implements its new deferred recruitment policy. While Greek leaders worked to keep freshmen engaged in Greek life prior to spring rush, it remains unclear how the new policy will affect participation in fraternities and sororities this year.
Title IX probe continues
Last year, the Title IX office came under scrutiny after student activists protested the University’s sexual assault response and the Department of Education launched an investigation into the GW’s alleged mishandling of a Title IX complaint. The investigation, which is still ongoing, could force the University to change how it manages sexual violence complaints.
The office is also undergoing an external review, which is slated to conclude this academic year and could bring more changes to University policies.
Answers for DREAMers?
In March, a program that temporarily protected young undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers, from deportation is set to expire on President Donald Trump’s orders. Without action from Congress, DREAMers would once again be at risk of deportation. Though the University doesn’t ask students for information about their immigration status, some students still worry about the impact the end of the program would have on their education.
Officials have offered free legal guidance for students who may be impacted and the issue has captured the attention of student activists who have held several demonstrations in support of DREAMers this academic year.
Task forces plan University’s future
Last summer, the Board of Trustees launched two task forces to kickstart two of LeBlanc’s major University-wide goals: increasing alumni engagement and improving the undergraduate student experience. Both task forces will likely finish their work in 2018 and their recommendations could shape GW’s priorities for the next several years.
After the University completed its $1 billion fundraising campaign last summer, the Board of Trustees launched an alumni task force to determine the next steps in alumni engagement and future fundraising efforts.
The Board also started a task force focusing on the student experience including areas like housing, dining, campus community and academics. Officials have already held a series of community meetings with students in hopes of finding solutions to common student complaints on campus.
A calmer SA election season?
The Student Association will hold its first election this spring since the stalking and harassment scandal that derailed the presidential race in 2017. In response to the controversy, the SA overhauled how elections are conducted. The new rules won’t go into effect until 2019, but this year’s race is likely to test SA leaders’ commitment to change the culture in student government.
Corcoran construction issues
Throughout the fall semester, students and faculty lamented the dust and loud construction noises associated with the planned $80 million overhaul of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design’s flagship building.
Facing mounting student frustrations, officials committed to regularly updating students and faculty about working conditions in the building. The University is also awaiting millions of dollars more in donations to complete the renovations.