Best and worst from this week’s headlines

A study published by a watchdog organization claims that the GW Research Studies Center has a right-leaning bias that could negatively impact the way its research is conducted. As the center attempts to steer clear of the controversy, officials filled one of its administrative vacancies and hired Professor John Lach as the incoming dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs Up:

The University announced last week that Lach, a former University of Virginia professor, will head SEAS starting in August. Interim SEAS Dean Rumana Riffat held the position after David Dolling left almost a year ago.

Lach’s experience in cross-cutting programs is promising because he could encourage more students to cross disciplines instead of remaining in their selected field of study. Increasing academic breadth through the new dean could boost SEAS research and help the school stand out among other engineering schools. But most importantly, Lach will bring stability to at least one school that has been without a permanent head for at least a couple of months.

Officials’ efforts to fill an empty seat over the summer will ease uncertainty about leadership once students start school again in the fall. SEAS students will have one consistent leader to look up to when the academic year begins, a refreshing change to a year of departures and administrative searches.

Thumbs Down:

The GW Regulatory Studies Center came under fire from the watchdog group Public Citizen Monday for alleged conservative bias.

Public Citizen revealed that the center receives donations from Charles Koch and the ExxonMobil Foundation. The Charles Koch Foundation is a libertarian leaning non-profit founded by Charles Koch, who also funds partisan think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Federalist Society. The study claims that having both Koch and ExxonMobil as major funders could possibly affect researchers’ bipartisan approach to research. Public Citizen encouraged the University to disclose its donors and prove the report wrong.

Officials claim that the money they receive does not influence their actions, hires or research, but Public Citizen’s study paints a negative image of the center. Individuals who look to the center for research should trust that it is not tainted with bias. But if there is even an indication that the information produced is untrustworthy, the center will have more hurdles to overcome to prove they are nonpartisan and not influenced by donations.

Hannah Thacker, a freshman majoring in Political Communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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