Officials say the now-suspended plan to reduce the undergraduate population by 20 percent while upping the share of STEM majors to 30 percent will likely not resume.
University President Thomas LeBlanc had made the 20/30 Plan one of his hallmark initiatives leading GW, but once the pandemic began affecting enrollment levels, officials placed the plan on hold in April. Officials said at the time that they may “revisit” the plan once the pandemic’s impact became clearer but now will likely need to craft a new plan as the pandemic has changed many of the 20/30 Plan’s assumptions regarding enrollment and the financial status of GW.
“The 20/30 Plan isn’t on hold as much as it is obsolete,” LeBlanc said at a Faculty Senate meeting this month. “We’re starting with a blank canvas here.”
GW’s undergraduate enrollment fell nearly 8 percent this fall. GW enrolled 2,274 new “residential” undergraduates this year, falling short of officials’ pre-pandemic target by nearly 300 students.
Administrators have met regularly – sometimes daily – to monitor enrollment trends and inform decision-making. Officials accepted multiple rounds of applicants on the waitlist and increased transfer recruitment to soften the blow of the pandemic.
LeBlanc added that officials are considering factors like tuition revenue, diversity and class size in determining future enrollment goals. GW’s enrollment is also influenced by the District’s zoning requirements for the University.
“This process will define that space and narrow it across multiple dimensions,” he said.
Many faculty have raised concerns about the 20/30 Plan, dating back to before the pandemic.
Provost Brian Blake told faculty earlier this month that he did not expect the 20/30 Plan to resume.
“I have not taken any actions to implement it and have no plans to do so,” Blake said in an email to faculty on Nov. 4.
He added that the Board of Trustees has the authority to make a final decision on the plan’s future.
“As it was a Board of Trustees decision, the Board or its leadership would have to make any formal declaration on its status,” Blake said. “However, from my perspective, the 20/30 Plan has indeed been rendered obsolete by the pandemic.”
Board Chair Grace Speights said at a Faculty Assembly meeting last week that they pandemic will “likely” change the 20/30 Plan.
“The pandemic has impacted current enrollment in both numbers and the mix of student interest, and that is likely to continue moving forward,” Speights said. “When academic planning resumes, those impacts will likely change or moot many of the assumptions underlying the 20/30 aspect of the strategic plan.”