News and Analysis

GW took a significant hit in this year’s Money magazine rankings, which reflects the return on investment for more than 700 universities nationwide.

The University ranked No. 376 in Money’s report, dropping more than 160 spots from last year’s 209 finish. The year before, GW ranked No. 214.

The magazine analyses colleges and universities based on quality of education – which includes the test scores of incoming freshmen, graduation rates and student to faculty ratios – as well as affordability and outcome, which examines graduates’ earnings.

Money omitted institutions with poor financial health, low graduation rates or fewer than 500 students.

GW ranked above five of its peer schools, including American, Boston, Southern Methodist and Tulane universities and the University of Miami. Vanderbilt was GW’s highest-ranking peer school, landing the 27th spot on the list. Last year, Vanderbilt was 24.

Princeton University topped this year’s list, knocking Stanford University down from the top spot to No. 10.

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The School of Medicine and Health Sciences has created a new Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research, according to a press release.

The new center “focuses on multi-disciplinary, collaborative scholarship on enhancing value in health care delivery” and will absorb the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation and Urgent Matters, “expanding its reach across GW,” according to the release.

Jesse Pines, the new center’s director and a professor of emergency medicine and health policy and management, said in the release that a major focus of the center will be “the rigorous study of the most innovative practices in medical care with the goal of promoting evidence-based public policy.”

“We hope to contribute to effective policymaking and improve healthcare in a time of major delivery system and payment changes,” Pines said in the release.

The center’s core faculty includes Pines; Steven Farmer, who will act as the center’s associate director and is also an associate professor of medicine, Andrew Meltzer, an associate professor of emergency medicine, Barbara Gage, an associate professor of clinical research and leadership and Trudy Mallinson, also an associate professor of clinical research and leadership, according to the release.

The center will create partnerships both within GW and across the nation, which will be formally recognized through a fellows and scholars program, according to the release.

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The GW Cancer Center received a $1 million grant for a training program to promote health equity and improve communications for patients and providers, according to a release.

The Pfizer Foundation, a charitable organization that provides funds and resources to improve global health strategies, awarded the grant to the center to advance cancer care by improving communication, patient health literacy and cultural sensitivity between patients and health care providers.

Mandi Pratt-Chapman, the lead researcher and associate center director for patient-centered initiatives and health equity at the GW Cancer Center, said in the release that health care professionals are pressed for time and patients are often overwhelmed by information.

“We will develop tools to help patients identify their priorities for care and clarify when information is confusing,” Pratt-Chapman said. “We will also train patient navigators and clinicians on communication techniques to support patient engagement and understanding of information across diverse and intersecting backgrounds.”

This grant will continue efforts to help patients make informed choices about their health care through the GW Cancer Center’s Prepared Patient Program.

The program will train patients to advocate for themselves, and health care providers will learn culturally sensitive practices, according to the release.

This research will also examine the ways gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity and income impact the patient and provider relationship. Researchers hope to determine if providers who received this training will be more committed to providing culturally sensitive care, the release states.

“Productive patient-provider interactions are essential to ensuring that all individuals living with cancer are able to access quality care,” Caroline Roan, the president of the Pfizer Foundation, said in the release. “We are pleased to be working with the GW Cancer Center on this initiative to improve access to patient-centered, equitable oncology care for women.”

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016 1:35 p.m.

Board of Trustees chair elected to second term

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Nelson Carbonell was reelected to a second term. Hatchet File Photo.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Nelson Carbonell was reelected to a second term. Hatchet File Photo.

The Board of Trustees elected Nelson Carbonell to a second three-year term as chair of the Board of Trustees, which began on July 1, according to a University release.

Carbonell first became chair in 2013, after serving as vice chair for six years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from GW in electrical engineering, was inducted in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Hall of Fame in 2011 and is the “founder, chairman and CEO of Nelson Carbonell and Associates,” according to the release.

“It has been a great honor to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees, and I look forward to continuing to work with the administration, faculty and the board to build on the progress we have made on behalf of the George Washington University,” Carbonell said in the release.

In his past three years as chair of the Board of Trustees, Carbonell has helped to oversee the creation of the Science and Engineering Hall as well as the Milken Institute School of Public Health. He has also helped fund an autism research hub at GW and approved changes to faculty regulations.

In his upcoming term Carbonell will be significantly involved in the selection of a new president for the University, following current University President Steven Knapp’s announcement last month that he will not be seeking to renew his contract at the end of the upcoming academic year.

The Board of Trustees also reelected Ellen Zane as vice president and Grace Speights as secretary and reelected three charter members: Roslyn Brock, Michael Hoffman and Madeleine Jacobs, according to the release.

A new charter member was also elected – Amr ElSawy. ElSawy is currently the CEO of Noblis and “has extensive experience leading organizations and developing innovative solutions to some of the most complex challenges facing public sector enterprises in national security, transportation, health and the environment,” according to the release. He was also inducted into SEAS’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

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Updated: July 15, 2016 at 10:08 p.m.

A man authorities believed to be armed with an assault rifle near campus was an off-duty special police officer, according to a tweet by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police initially said the man was in the area of 24th Street and New Hampshire Avenue and walking toward Pennsylvania Avenue, according an alert sent at 8:20 p.m. Friday.

The man was described as black, 5′ 9″ inches tall, medium build and wearing a white T-shirt with a slogan that that reads “I” followed by a heart symbol and a image of an assault rifle, according to a photo of the suspect released by GW Safety and Security.

He was allegedly wearing an armor vest under his shirt and possibly a gun belt. Police believed he was carrying an M16 assault rifle, according to the initial alert.

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Officials celebrated the official opening of the Cisneros Leadership Institute at a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this year. The institute named a director and a senior fellow this week. Hatchet file photo

Officials celebrated the opening of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this year. The institute named a director and a senior fellow this week. Hatchet file photo

The GW Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute named a director and senior fellow for the institute this week, according to a University release Wednesday.

Elizabeth Vaquera, who was an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Florida, will serve as institute’s director. Louis Caldera, the former president of the University of New Mexico and secretary of the Army, will be the institute’s first senior fellow.

Vaquera succeeds David Martinez, who served as interim director since the institute was founded last year and who will remain an associate director.

Vaquera, who received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, said although she received a degree from an Ivy League school, she understands the struggles that first-generation students and immigrants face: She was a first-generation student who learned English as a second language.

“A professor who mentored me through college changed my life, and I am committed to continuing to pay it forward and reducing inequalities through education by helping Hispanic youth succeed and become leaders in their chosen careers,” Vaquera said in the release.

Caldera, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, said in the release that he has been committed to “broadening Hispanic participation in meaningful and lasting ways” throughout his career in education and public service.

“At the institute, I look forward to doing what I can to cultivate a new generation of students and leaders who will be among those shaping the social, political and economic landscape of our country in the coming years,” Caldera said in the release.

The Cisneros Institute was established last year through a $7 million dollar gift from alumnus Gilbert Cisneros and his wife Jacki Cisneros. The institute hosts pre-college programs for high school juniors and seniors. At least $250,000 of the funds go toward renewable scholarships.

Ben Vinson, the dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said in the release that he is “thrilled” by the appointments.

“Both bring to their roles exemplary records of scholarship, mentorship and public service, as well as firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing first-generation immigrants,” Vinson said.

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Provost Forrest Maltzman presents tuition and enrollment statistics at a staff town hall Wednesday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Provost Forrest Maltzman presents tuition and enrollment statistics at a staff town hall Wednesday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

About 40 staff members met in Duques Hall Wednesday evening to learn more about recent budget cuts from top officials and to raise their concerns about recent position eliminations.

Provost Forrest Maltzman and Deputy Vice President and Treasurer Ann McCorvey presented how shifts in student enrollment have affected the University’s finances and their plans to cut costs this fiscal year. The GW Staff Association held the town hall meeting in response to the elimination of about 40 staff positions last month.

In December, University President Steven Knapp called on all administrative units to make 3 to 5 percent budget cuts each fiscal year until 2021. GW’s libraries, technology, student affairs, safety and security and treasurer’s offices were reorganized or saw jobs eliminated in May as part of the first round of budget reallocations.

Staff members said they are concerned the staff cuts will cause remaining employees to be overworked and under-compensated and will create a general decline in morale.

Greg Squires, the chair of the sociology department, said staff who take on more responsibilities after cuts need tangible rewards to keep them at the University.

“We can’t expect people to keep doing more work and simply acknowledging that without some kind of concrete response,” Squires said.

Effects on employees are inevitable when streamlining the budget, McCorvey said. Running a university is a “people-intensive thing,” she said, which means a bulk of GW’s money must be spent on paying employees: 60 percent of the roughly $1 billion operating budget goes toward compensation.

“In order for us to make any adjustments to processes and programs, with people costs being that big of a percentage, it’s hard to not have some sort of an impact,” McCorvey said.

Officials should prioritize “transparency and engagement” with staff as they work to balance their budgets, McCorvey said. She encouraged staff to come forward with their ideas for ways to cut costs within their departments.

Members of the Staff Association presented a charter to create a staff senate to Maltzman in March, saying they wanted improved transparency between employees and administrators. Maltzman said at Wednesday’s meeting that it would not be “in the best interest” of the staff to create a senate designed after the Faculty Senate, because faculty senates are an accepted part of the American higher education system in a way that staff senates are not.

Maltzman encouraged staff members to join Faculty Senate committees or to create a body similar to the Student Association to make their voices heard by upper-level administrators.

The two officials also explained how the University budget fell short in past years, and how reallocating funds now can prevent future budget cuts of this magnitude.

The University’s expenses outpaced its revenue from 2012 to 2015, forcing officials to dip into GW’s savings in order to balance the budget – a model which McCorvey said is not sustainable. She said that by trimming the budget, officials can eventually put money back into savings.

“The appropriate strategy for us to drive toward is to put money in savings account, save for our future and then invest in new strategies,” McCorvey said.

Maltzman said net tuition revenue has decreased as more freshmen applicants require financial aid. Net tuition is the out-of-pocket cost students and their families must cover after aid is awarded. Since about 2008, as tuition has increased, so has the amount of money the University awards in financial aid, he said.

“We funded that for many, many years, like the rest of higher education, with fairly aggressive pricing and we funded it with enrollment growth,” Maltzman said. “It’s good and helpful for some of our students, but now we don’t have extra resources.”

GW’s net tuition still ranked eighth highest among private universities in the 2013 school year at $47,343, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.

A decline in graduate enrollment also posed earlier budget cuts and hiring freezes, but Maltzman said graduate student enrollment is on the rise: 2.4 percent more graduate students have made deposits for the upcoming academic year than last year, according to data from the provost’s office.

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GW was selected to lead 18 institutions with a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to use immunotherapy advances to develop a cure for HIV, according to a University release.

The research will be funded with a $28 million grant. Researchers said in the release that the cell therapy approach will focus on strengthening immune systems to eliminate the virus.

“We are happy and humbled to have been selected as one of the recipients of this important award,” Douglas Nixon, lead researcher on the grant and chair of the department of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said in the release. “We have gathered together a diverse group of researchers, who are all driven by the belief that a cure will depend on enhancing natural anti-HIV immunity, and that finding a cure must be accomplished in a fully participatory stakeholder fashion.”

The project is titled “Bench to Bed Enhanced Lymphocyte Infusions to Engineer Viral Eradication.” The goal of the research is to enhance the killing ability of HIV-specific killer T-cells.

BELIEVE will partner with Altor Bioscience Corporation, which has created a drug that can enhance the immune system’s ability to kill HIV cells. Researchers will also partner with Torque, a biomedical engineering company with the technology to deliver drugs to the infected cells that the researchers will use to clear the HIV viral reservoir.

The Martin Delaney Collaboratory program, which gave the grant, creates public-private partnerships for HIV/AIDS research. Current HIV strategies are limited because they cannot completely clear infected cells, according to the release.

“We know that through this strategic collaboration with our research partners and a commitment to finding a cure, we will move closer to reaching our goal of eradicating HIV/AIDS,” Nixon said in the release.

Nixon, along with Catherine Bollard, the chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Health System and professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine, Alan Greenberg, the director of the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research and chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Milken Institute School of Public Health and Brad Jones, an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine, will serve on the BELIEVE executive committee.

GW will work alongside 18 other institutions on the research, both nationally and internationally. Among the other institutions involved in the collaboration are NIH, Harvard University, the University of Toronto, the University of São Paulo, Brazil and Georgetown University.

The studies will be conducted with local clinics associated with these institutions in Canada, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S.

“Long before we begin clinical trials, we will create local community advisory boards in each participating area so there is ownership of the research, and continued communication, engagement, and understanding of what’s going on, especially for the large community of people living with HIV in D.C.,” Martha Sichone Cameron, the director of prevention at the Women’s Collective and member of the Community Advisory Board of the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, said in the release.

Jones, a member of the executive committee, said in the release that he created the acronym for the project and was inspired by a friend of his who is living with HIV.

“This individual had followed HIV research quite closely, but at that moment told me that he no longer believed that HIV could be cured,” Jones said in the release. “We feel that recent advances in immunotherapy, such as those that have transformed the treatment of cancer, provide a strong basis for hope that curing HIV is possible.” 

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The Milken Institute School of Public Health will launch a new online degree program in health informatics, according to a press release.

The program, called a master of science in management of health informatics and analytics, will begin in January 2017, and “will develop the next generation of health innovators, who will leverage data analytics and IT-based solutions to improve patient outcomes and the quality of health care delivery in the U.S. and abroad,” according to the release.

Sam Hanna, the director of the program, said in the release that there is a “rising demand” in the field of health informatics and it can be attributed to “the dramatic increase in biological and clinical data, as well as pressure to have better patient outcomes.”

He added that it is important for health officials to continually integrate new technologies into their work to help patients and public health as a whole.

“This program, tailored for current managers and executives in health care, will teach students to look at health care through a new lens and develop improvements that impact organizational, operational and medical needs for providers and patients alike,” Hanna said in the release.

The new degree fits into GW’s goals for more data-based programs, like a degree in business analytics and courses in data analytics offered at the Computational Biology Institute.

The program will be taught to students through “live, face-to-face online classes, immersive experiences and an interactive social technology network that allows students to access course content from any location with an internet connection,” according to the release.

Applicants to the program “should have a minimum of three years of clinical or administrative experience in the health care sector and be currently employed in the health care industry,” the release stated.

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