News and Analysis

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Avery Anapol.

Students looking for an eco-friendly way to dispose of their leftover J Street salads will have to search no longer.

GW’s community garden adopted a new composting system last month, allowing students, faculty and community members to dump their food waste into a set of bins where items like apple cores and eggshells will decay and later become a part of the soil once again. The system marks the first widespread effort to make composting a more prominent public practice on the Foggy Bottom campus.

The GroW garden, which is managed by members of the Food Justice Alliance, replaced an older set-up that has been in place for about five years. The new compost bin has a “tri-bin” setup, where each of the three bins has a different role in turning food waste into soil. The new system allows for more control over what goes in and comes out of the bins, garden manager Eilish Zembilci said in an email.

Zembilci, a rising junior majoring in international affairs, oversaw the installation of the new technology. She applied for grants and purchased the system from Urban Farm Plans, a D.C.-based organization that works to advance urban farms and gardens, she said. The University did not contribute to the purchase.

“The amount of times I pulled out plastic bags, pizza slices, and water bottles from the [old] compost was ridiculous and defeats the purpose of the entire system,” Zembilci said in an email. “This new tri-bin system allows us to lock the bins and control the flow of the compost.”

The new bins only allow for composting of organic items like paper bags and raw food items. The GroW Garden will not accept dairy, bread or meats, she said, and not cups and plates advertised as compostable by vendors like Whole Foods, which can typically only be processed in industrial composting facilities like the one in Prince George’s County.

“Essentially, we want a compost salad,” Zembilci said.

Urban Farm Plans co-founder Eriks Brolis said the bins cost about $2,000, but he didn’t charge the full amount to the student group. He declined to provide the amount of that discount.

Brolis said that GW is “a leader” in urban composting because they are the first college campus to use Urban Farm Plans’ tri-bin system and he hopes that the GroW Garden will serve as an example for other organizations.

This isn’t the first student-lead effort to increase composting on campus. Two students launched a small-scale composting effort in Hensley Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus in February for the building’s residents.

Meghan Chapple, director of the Office of Sustainability, said in an email that the “student-driven, GW-supported” GroW Garden bins will supplement two “food waste diversion” programs already in place by the University — one located in Pelham Commons on the Mount Vernon Campus, and the other in the J Street cafeteria for kitchen staff use.

“Like the volunteer gardening that takes place in the garden, the composting system will be an educational opportunity for the GW community,” Chapple said.

Greg Evanylo, a professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said many universities are now adopting composting systems because more undergraduate students want to be more sustainable. However, the systems are typically large, run by the university and do not require the type of student participation sought by the GroW Garden.

“I’m sure the administration loves [a student-run system] because it means they don’t have to tie up their resources,” Evanylo said. “If you’ve got student volunteers who know what they’re doing, I don’t think it should be that difficult.”

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Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

A university’s financial foundation keeps the show going. But what are some of the tell-tale signs that the show is heading toward its final curtain call?

Indicators including federal financial responsibility scores and endowment sizes can contribute to figuring out how well-off universities are, according to a report published Wednesday by The Chronicle of Higher Education. GW’s status compared to its peer schools reveals a good financial health score from the federal government and an endowment-to-student ratio that about parallels its peers.

An unofficial dataset created by a staff member at the National Association of College and University Business Officers roughly estimates universities’ endowment dollars per full-time students. GW’s ratio lands at a little less than $80,000 for each student and is the fourth lowest out of its 14 peer schools, ahead of University of Miami, American University and Boston University.

But the report also comes with a disclaimer – its authors said that endowment dollars per student doesn’t offer a full-enough picture of a university’s financial health because it offers no indication of how that money is spent.

Schools with large endowments also tend to have a larger number of students, leading to a higher endowment dollar amount per student.

The Department of Education also rates universities’ financial health on a scale from -1 to 3, where a score of 1.5 is considered “passing,” or financially stable. GW scored a 2.9 for fiscal year 2013, according to data from The Chronicle of Higher Education. GW’s peers fell between 2.6 and perfect 3s, except for the University of Miami, which earned a 1.9.

But not everyone agrees that the federal government’s ratings are fair. The Chronicle report said private college groups have said the scores are misleading or even erroneous.

GW’s financial health came under scrutiny after it was revealed that debt payments will exceed the yearly endowment payout next fiscal year for the second year in a row.

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GW officials are taking more than 2,500 alumni’s checks to the bank this week — and two of them total more than $60,000.

An anonymous alumnus pledged $50,000 to GW if 2,015 alumni donated during June, and the University met that goal. The last week of June, Jeffrey Feinstein, a 2005 alumnus of the GW School of Business, offered $12,500 if another 500 alumni made donations — a goal that alumni also reached.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to say how much money was raised in the month-long period because that figure will not be available for several weeks. The donation website shows that 2,529 alumni made donations.

The fundraising blitz comes about a year after officials launched the University’s largest-ever fundraising campaign. GW has raised about $740 million toward that $1 billion goal. More than 56,000 people have donated to the campaign, a key indicator of efforts to grow the University’s donor pool.

Experts have said that short-term fundraising campaigns offer a sense of urgency for donors to give. Csellar previously said that the most popular times to donate are during June and December.

The June fundraising push is just one of the University’s recent fundraising pushes. For example, University officials held their first “Flag Day” in April, which encouraged current students and young alumni to donate.

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The D.C. Zoning Commission published stricter regulations on adding additional levels to rowhomes and converting the houses to multi-unit apartments in some areas of the city Friday, The Washington Business Journal reported Monday.

In a 3-2 vote, the commission adopted the tougher regulations earlier this month. The new rules became effective immediately after their publication in the D.C. Register last week, meaning that any building permits granted after June 26 are under the new regulations. Unless they were granted before July 17 2014, permits currently in progress will also fall under the new rules.

The D.C. Register rulemaking handbook states that the new rules promote the usage of rowhomes in the city for single families with children. The rules discourage the buildings to be used as multi-unit apartments, which would also accommodate the increasing population density in the city. The population of the D.C. metro area has steadily grown by about 1 percent each year over the past decade, leading to an increased demand for housing in the area.

The regulations apply to D.C. residents in the R-4 zoning district, which includes mostly rowhouses covering about 18 percent of the city including Capitol Hill, Shaw, Columbia Heights and other areas. Single family houses in these parts of D.C. cannot create additional levels in their homes if the additions make the building taller than 35 feet. The buildings may not have more than three levels including mezzanines, which are now counted as a separate floor.

If the Board of Zoning Administration grants a permit to split a R-4 residence into at least four units, D.C.’s inclusionary zoning law requires every fourth unit and even unit after that to be designated affordable housing.

New building on R-4 properties also must not interfere with light, air and solar power apparatuses in neighboring properties. They also can’t “substantially visually intrude upon the character, scale and pattern of houses along the street or alley.”

With the recent surge in home renovations as the population steadily increases, D.C. residents like Todd Crosby have supported restrictions on converting the buildings to multi-unit apartments.

“I did not invest my life savings in my Washington, D.C. rowhouse to share a wall with a four-story apartment building,” Crosby said in a letter to the commission. “I do not want to listen to the noise from 4 apartments through our shared wall. I do not want my kids to play in my backyard in the shadow of a huge pop-up/back and I do not want to barbecue in a Panopticon.”

There are other D.C. residents that support restrictions on building additions to row homes because they think the new parts are ugly and will ruin the neighborhood’s look. Capitol Hill resident Daniel Garry called these concerns for the additions “trivial” and “meritless” in a statement to the commission.

“The proposal’s purpose appears to be to appease District residents who refuse to acknowledge that the District is a growing city that requires additional housing,” Garry wrote.

Philip Simon, a co-founder of S2 Development, told the zoning commission the rules “do nothing to stop the building of unsightly houses in the R-4 district and it certainly does nothing to increase the oversight of bad contractors.”

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The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to raise the stakes for businesses caught selling synthetic marijuana, making it a $10,000 misstep on the first violation, DCist reported Tuesday.

The bill calls for a $10,000 fine to any business caught dealing the synthetic marijuana for the first time, and doubles the amount on the second offense. Emergency legislation introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser two weeks ago also allows the police chief to shut down any business caught with selling the substance, according to DCist.

District officials began to show concerns about synthetic marijuana after at least seven people in D.C.’s largest homeless shelter overdosed on the substance, the Washington Post reported earlier this month.

Synthetic marijuana offers similar effects to authentic marijuana, and is comprised of a herbal mixture, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The synthetic concoction is often marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana despite reports of it containing unnatural substances like chemical additives.

Marijuana was decriminalized in July and voters in D.C. passed a ballot initiative in November to legalize the substance.

Bowser announced the bill two weeks ago, along with two new units in the Metro Police Department centered on drugs and related crimes, DCist reported earlier this month.

“We believe these significant strategic changes will be of great help for our police department, both in terms of combating the new environment of illegal drug manufacturing and sales as well as increasing their visible presence in our communities and interacting with our residents,” Bowser said in a statement when introducing the bill.

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A national organization that helps to govern sorority life on college campuses released recommendations made by a task force last month in an effort started last year to raise awareness and prevent sexual assaults.

The National Panhellenic Conference, which includes all of the social sororities with chapters on GW’s campus, highlighted ways that sororities can better their education on reporting sexual assault, like understanding campus resources and raising awareness for sorority members. The conference also announced the next steps of a national task force started last year that focuses on sexual assault on college campuses.

The report identifies seven areas for lower-level sorority governing organizations to hone in on when educating members. The seven topics tackle different aspects of sexual assault, like encouraging awareness, campus resources, resources within each sorority, leadership, collaboration with sexual assault awareness groups and advocacy within each sorority against sexual assault.

The recommendations “are the result of many hours of thoughtful and deliberate conversations, inquiries and surveysfocused onadvocacyfor our members as well asall women on college campuseswith regard to student safety and sexual assault,” the report said.

The Student Safety and Sexual Assault Awareness Task Force will focus on many of those same seven topics and plans to expand as the year continues, the report said.

Greek life leaders said in February that they would make sexual assault a priority as part of the Greek Life Task Force. About one-third of students on campus are involved in Greek life.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015 2:30 p.m.

GW takes two Emmy Awards back to campus

Students can now say they attend the Emmy Award-winning George Washington University.

GW won its first-ever Emmy Awards on Saturday night, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar confirmed in an email Monday. The University’s office of marking and creative services won two of the four awards they were nominated for in animation graphics and commercial campaigns from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“Financing a GW Education,” a video explaining how students pay for tuition at GW won an award for animation graphics. The GW Virtual Tour, a website filled with videos featuring different areas of campus, was also nominated in the category.

The virtual tour and the University’s “#OnlyAtGW” videos, a series of short clips where students describe the unique experiences they’ve had at GW, were both nominated in the commercial campaign category. The “#OnlyAtGW” videos took home another Emmy for GW.

Leah Rosen, the associate vice president of marketing and creative services, said in an statement that “we are thrilled to be recognized for our work and honored to be able to tell the stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

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Updated: July 1, 2015 at 12:55 p.m.

The University’s fundraising office has been on the hunt for 10 new employees to help push its $1 billion fundraising campaign past the finish line.

Ten positions have become available over the past six weeks in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and only five remain open, according to the University’s employment website. Experts say adding new blood in a fundraising office in the middle of a major fundraising push can be a critical step to keep the donations rolling in and maintain momentum as a school nears its goal.

The new hires also come after three high-level members of the University’s fundraising office have left over the course of the last year.

Titles for the positions include school-specific fundraising positions, like an associate director of development for the Elliott School of International Affairs – which has been filled – and an associate director of development for major gifts to the School of Business. But larger, big-picture posts are also available, including a senior director of planned giving and an associate director of corporate relations. Each school has its own smaller fundraising goal as part of GW’s $1 billion campaign, led by the school’s dean alongside the fundraising office.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to comment on whether the positions are newly created or are open as a result of layoffs or staff departures. She also declined to comment on the timeline to fill the positions and qualifications needed, citing a policy that the University does not comment on “personnel matters.”

The University announced in April that it would lay off 46 staffers. University officials have declined to confirm in which departments those cuts were made.

Two senior fundraising officials left the office recently, and both had been in their posts for no more than about a year, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins confirmed in an interview last month.

Bernard Davisson, who was the senior associate vice president of development at GW, left the University in April to become West Virginia University’s senior vice president of development and chief development officer. Davisson had spent nearly three years at GW. Dwight Dozier left GW for the Georgia Tech Foundation in March to serve as chief information officer. He spent about one year as senior associate vice president at GW, according to his LinkedIn page.

“People go looking for people who are successful, and so you go and you want to pick off from schools where they’re going great things,” Collins said in the interview. “There is such momentum, there are so many great things going at at GW.”

Collins added that when a school makes progress in its own fundraising campaign, officials at other schools may lure those fundraiser in hopes of seeing similar success. GW has raised about $740 million since its campaign went public last summer.

“You go to places where there’s success and there’s momentum and wind and energy, and you say, ‘Let me get that person,’ and that happens all the time,” he said.

This is not the first time in the last year that there has been turnover in the fundraising office. Former head of fundraising Mike Morsberger stepped down in October, and was replaced with Collins, who was previously the vice president and secretary of the University, in February. Morsberger is now vice president for alumni relations and development at the University of Central Florida.

Arthur Criscillis, a managing partner at the fundraising consulting firm Alexander Haas, said that as officials add new members to the fundraising office, they will need to learn to work with existing staff in order to wrap up the campaign.

“They need to have good communication skills, need to be able to have good organization skills,” he said. “They have to have some degree of self-direction even though there are guidelines for what they are going to need to do. They’ve got to get out there and function.”

Jennifer Browning, the vice president of communications for the fundraising consulting firm the Winkler Group, said in an email that fundraising campaigns can still be successful, even with new staff members added during a campaign.

“Coming into a school in the middle of a campaign isn’t all that unusual and shouldn’t hinder success,” she said. “Good development or advancement professionals are quick studies.”

Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to a reporting error, the Hatchet incorrectly reported that Bernard Davisson had spent less than a year at GW. He had been at GW for nearly three years before leaving his position. We regret this error.

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The Board of Trustees approved three resolutions that will change how faculty can participate in governance at GW, according to a University release Monday.

The changes include allowing more professors — including specialized and contract faculty who are considered associate professors — to participate in the Faculty Senate, updating how faculty members are awarded tenure and streamlining how deans of each school are chosen.

Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell said in the release that the changes will help the University be “more in line” with peer schools.

“There has been broad consensus that the goal of the GW community is to move the university into the ranks of the most respected and admired institutions in the world,” Carbonell said in the statement. “The changes to the Faculty Code will help us achieve our aspirations by enhancing the university’s ability to attract and retain top faculty and deans, strengthening tenure at George Washington and expanding participation in shared governance.”

It is unclear from the release whether or not the wording of the resolutions passed by the Board of Trustees differed from that approved by the Faculty Senate last month, a concern many faculty members raised in April. Carbonell and the chair of the board’s academic affairs committee, Madeleine Jacobs, said at a Faculty Senate meeting later that month that trustees would be sure to include faculty input when finalizing the resolutions.

The resolution for promoting professors calls for “written criteria” to outline how promotions will be granted and requires that professor’s department to verify that those criteria have been met, according to the release. A University-wide committee for appointment, promotion and tenure, which has been widely discussed in the past, will not be created.

In May, the Faculty Senate passed three resolutions that would revise the Faculty Code to update how faculty participated in dean searches and individual school by-laws. The senate decided to table one resolution on extending governance rights and participation in the Faculty Senate to specialized faculty, but the board chose to adopt a similar measure. University President Steven Knapp will present that resolution to the Faculty Assembly for approval in October.

The Faculty Senate also approved a proposal that would change the percentage of tenured faculty in each school, but the Board of Trustees requested “further study” on the proposal, according to the release.

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A longtime faculty member of the Elliott School of International Affairs will take over the position of the school’s interim dean next month, according to a University release.

Hugh Agnew, a professor of history and international affairs and the senior associate dean for academic and faculty affairs at the Elliott School, will start his role as interim dean July 1, Provost Steven Lerman announced to the school’s faculty and GW leadership Friday. Agnew will continue in the position until a permanent replacement is announced for dean Michael Brown, who officially steps down from the post on the same date.

Agnew, who came to GW in 1988, said in an interview Monday that he is “humbled” by the appointment and will continue his current duties at the Elliott School while fulfilling the dean’s responsibilities. His plans for the summer include welcoming new faculty arriving at the school for the academic year and maintaining the “rhythm of the school” until the new dean takes over.

“I see my role as carrying this accomplishment into the new hands of the new dean without dropping it,” Agnew said.

Agnew has previously served as associate dean for academic programs and associate dean for faculty affairs at the school. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses primarily focused on eastern Europe, and has written extensively on Czech nationalism.

Brown announced in October that he would leave the dean post at the end of the academic year but would continue in a faculty role at the school. Since then, a dean search committee made up of Elliott School students and faculty vetted candidates and brought them to campus before sending on their top three unranked choices to Lerman and University President Steven Knapp, who will make the final appointment. That announcement is expected to come at some point over the coming weeks although the process can sometimes take longer, search committee chair Jennifer Brinkerhoff said in an email earlier this month.

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