News and Analysis


Sera Royal

GW researchers earned a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the impact of ancient viruses in certain cancers for patients with HIV, according to a University release.

Douglas Nixon, the chair of the microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine department in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will work with Eduardo Sotomayor, the director of the GW Cancer Center to study how the ancient Human Endogenous Retroviruses, or fossil viruses that have become part of the human genome over millions of years, factors into certain cancers for HIV patients, as well as why certain cancers are more prevalent in HIV patients than in patients without HIV.

The GW Cancer Center also provided seed funding for the research, according to the release.

Nixon said in the release that he is not primarily a cancer researcher, but that HIV and AIDS research can lead to understanding about biology and cancer mechanisms.

“I believe this project shows the importance of seed funding, but also of cross-disciplinary work – something GW has made a priority, allowing people from different fields to come together and talk to each other in ways many large institutions do not,” Nixon said in the release. “I am delighted to be joining the cancer research community and to work with the GW Cancer Center.”

Nixon and his team of researchers have looked extensively at these ancient viruses over the past decade, creating a program called “Telescope” that can determine where the ancient viruses exist in HIV patients and which ones are expressed in cancer patients with and without HIV, according to the release. Nixon and his team believe that HIV may reactivate some of these ancient viruses as well as the anti-virus immunity, which can be expressed in some cancers.

Sotomayor said in the release that he thinks the research will have significant implications.

“We believe this research will have major implications for cancer research, and in the future, cancer patients,” Dr. Sotomayor said.

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Pamela Jeffries, the dean of the School of Nursing, received a national award for her leadership in nursing education. File photo by Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Pamela Jeffries, the dean of the School of Nursing, received a national award for her leadership in nursing education. File photo by Anne McBride | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: Nov. 4, 2016 at 8:23 p.m.

Pamela Jeffries, the dean of the School of Nursing, has received the National League for Nursing Mary Adelaide Nutting Award for Outstanding Leadership in Nursing Education, according to a University release.

She was nominated for this award by her colleagues in the nursing school, according to the release. The criteria for the award include leading scholarly activities, encouraging creative interactions with students from different backgrounds and mentoring and serving as a role model for junior faculty, according to NLN’s website.

“Receiving this coveted, major NLN leadership award is a highlight of my career, and I especially want to thank my GWSON nursing faculty for nominating me,” Jeffries said in the release.

Jeffries became dean of the nursing school in 2015, after serving as the vice provost for digital initiatives at Johns Hopkins University. Under her direction, the school has had an increased focus on research and has been rapidly expanding, hiring for 11 new positions at the end of the last academic year.

Jeffries also led the NLN’s early research studies on the use of simulation in nursing education and last year the NLN Jeffries Simulation Framework became the NLN Jeffries Simulation Theory, “a guide to implementing lifelike instruction and developing skills through nursing education,” according to the release.

Beverly Malone, the NLN chief executive officer, said that Jeffries is known for developing creative approaches to online teaching and experiential learning, according to the release.

“I am proud that the NLN will be forever associated with this dynamic innovator in nursing education,” Malone said, according to the release.

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Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Reuben Brigety, pictured speaking, will be appointed to the National Security Education Board.  Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Reuben Brigety, pictured speaking, will be appointed to the National Security Education Board. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Oct. 31, 2016 at 3:19 p.m.

Reuben Brigety, the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, will likely become a member of the National Security Education Board, according to a White House press release.

The release said President Barack Obama intends to appoint Brigety, as well as other individuals including several professors and educators, to various “key administration posts.”

“These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles. I look forward to working with them,” Obama said in the release.

The National Security Education Board is a 14-member board made up of eight Cabinet-level departments and six presidential appointments, according to its website. The NSEB advises the National Security Education Program on skills needed on the national security workforce and provides guidance on “hiring practices, internships and clearances, as well as to assist in crafting policy and guidelines,” according to the board’s website.

Brigety came to the University at the beginning of the last academic year. Before then he served as the U.S. representative to the African Union and as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

This post has been updated to reflect the following clarification:
Brigety will remain dean of the Elliott School while serving on the NSEB, as the administrative position is a part-time post.

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A professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a University release Wendesday.

Joel Gomez, an associate professor of educational leadership and the director of the Institute for Education Studies, will lead a project helping public school teachers and education administrators in Virginia teach English learners or students who do not have full fluency in English, according to the release.

The program, which was developed by Gomez and Lottie Baker, a visiting assistant professor of curriculum and pedagogy in GSEHD, will focus on teachers in science, math or history, as these are the subjects that students learning English tend to struggle with most. Students who are not fluent in English have a hard time in these subjects because they often use complex sentence structure or passive voice, according to the release.

“One of the major challenging factors today for students is learning the academic language they need for school,” Baker said in the release.

The program will begin with a 12-credit online teaching certificate for working teachers with the Virginia Department of Education choosing participants. The participants will then take part in several in-person “institutes,” which fellow teachers, administrators, principals and school board members can attend, according to the release.

“We really want to build a community to serve these learners,” Baker said in the release. “It can’t be just one teacher in a classroom with the door closed.”

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Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 11:48 a.m.

SEAS inducts six alumni into Hall of Fame

Six alumni were inducted into the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Hall of Fame last week, according to a University release.

The six alumni – William Austen, Bahram Javidi, Christyl Johnson, Gerald McNichols, Çağatay Özdoğru and Rodolfo Rodriguez – joined a program that has honored more than 60 alumni since its creation in 2006. The program honors those who have made “significant strides in engineering, technology, management or public service,” according to the release.

David Dolling, the dean of SEAS, said at the ceremony that the inductees represent the best of the engineering and computer science world and bring “distinction” to GW, according to the release.

The inductees all have prominent roles in engineering fields – Austen is president and CEO of Bemis Company, Javidi is a Board of Trustees distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut and Johnson is deputy center director for technology and research investments at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

McNichols is a philanthropist and angel investor, Özdoğru is the CEO and board member of Turkey’s Esas Holding and Rodriguez is founder and chief scientific officer of Advanced Animal Diagnostics, according to the release.

University President Steven Knapp said at the ceremony that the alumni all embodied the theme of “Excellence in Engineering Leadership,” and help to improve the University’s engineering programs.

“SEAS as a whole has now truly assumed its rightful place as a leader in engineering education and research,” Knapp said, according to the release.

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The D.C.-area Innovation Corps program was awarded $3.45 million over the next five years by the National Science Foundation to renew the program, according to a University release.

The I-Corps program brings together four D.C.-area universities – GW, Virginia Tech, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland at College Park – to train students and faculty in entrepreneurship. UMD is the lead institution for the region.

These regional sites, or “nodes,” work to help researchers “transition fundamental science and engineering discoveries to the marketplace,” by providing the appropriate research infrastructure and training, according to the release.

Leo Chalupa, the vice president for research, said in the release that GW’s commitment to innovation and technology commercialization made it a natural fit for this I-Corps site.

In recent years, officials have touted I-Corps as a way for researchers to turn their work into marketable goods or companies.

“The renewal of this NSF grant demonstrates the measurable and continuing success of the DC I-Corps program,” Chalupa said in the release.

The regional sites support other I-Corps sites nationwide as well as offer seven-week I-Corps curriculum to their teams. More than 3,000 people have participated in the D.C. I-Corps program at the university level, with more than 5,500 participants total, according to the release.

Six teams from GW have also gone to national I-Corps, out of 1,031 total teams trained and 45 teams from the D.C. area.

Jim Chung, the associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship and a co-principal investigator for the D.C. I-Corps, said in the release that 33 students, faculty and postdoctoral fellows from GW have received training for the program so far.

“The DC I-Corps Node has been critical for building the infrastructure and resources for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship at GW,” Chung said in the release.

Chung said in the release that the D.C. I-Corps plans to expand implementation of a short course format to “different diverse and geographically located groups,” over the next five years.

The D.C. I-Corps also plans to expand their outreach over the next five years by launching a veterans-only cohort and focusing on researchers who have not previously received funding but are eligible for $50,000 in funding from the program by taking the short course, according to the release.

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Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 12:58 p.m.

GW rises by one spot in U.S. News national rankings

GW has landed at the No. 56 spot this year in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of best national universities – one spot higher than its No. 57 place finish last year.

This is the first year the University has risen in the rankings since its was removed from the list in 2012 and listed as “unranked,” after officials admitted they had inflated admissions data for more than a decade.

In 2013, a year after being left off the list, the University dropped to the No. 52 spot, falling again in 2014 to the No. 54 spot.

Last year GW fell three spots to No. 57 because of slips in student graduation rates, retention and selectivity, according to the report’s author.

Even with its slight rise in rankings this year, the University still ranks below all but two of its peer institutions. GW is tied with peer university Southern Methodist University, as well as the University of Georgia and the University of Texas-Austin. American University is GW’s only peer school to rank below at No. 74.

The rankings are based on factors like first-year student retention, graduation rates and strength of the faculty, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s website. This year U.S. News and World report changed how they factor in class size to the rankings, previously basing it on two components that have now been combined into one “class size index measure.”

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Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a town hall meeting for faculty. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a town hall meeting for faculty. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Lauren Gomez, Sam Rosin and Sera Royal.

GW students, faculty and staff attended a series of town hall meetings Monday afternoon to give input on the University’s presidential search.

At all three town hall meetings, Jonathan Post, the assistant vice president for board relations, moderated the discussion, while the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Nelson Carbonell and Madeleine Jacobs, a trustee and chair of the presidential search committee, described the search process and answered questions. Deputy Executive Vice President Ann McCorvey also sat on the panel during the staff town hall.

At all three town halls, Post asked attendees questions about important qualities to look for in the next president, opportunities and challenges that face they face regularly and priorities they should have to help create a profile for potential candidates.

At the staff town hall meeting, around 90 GW staff members gathered to talk about issues from diversity of the search committee to transparency.

Carbonell said he is unconcerned about the search committee’s current level of diversity, after some faculty raised concerns over the makeup of the committee, and stressed his belief that a new president must embrace diversity as a core university value.

“From the board standpoint, diversity isn’t just something that we want to stress just because we are nice people, or we think that it’s popular,” Carbonell said. “In 20 years, we are going to have a very different country, and GW has to be a place that’s welcoming to everyone. It has to be a place where everyone can thrive and succeed. If we don’t have that environment, we’ll fail.”

He later noted during an interview that when looking at the overall makeup of the committee, including board members, the committee becomes significantly more diverse.

Carbonell said the University must also select a president committed to finding new ways to fundraise, acknowledging that traditional fundraising techniques, like tuition and philanthropy, currently provide the bulk of the University’s resources.

“We need to have somebody who’s going to think outside the box to bring resources to the university,” Carbonell said. “We need somebody to innovate to help us gather the resources we need to operate.”

Staff attendees, which varied from board members to men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan, underlined the need for the new president to value online learning, international recruitment and coordination with groups and institutions in the greater D.C area.

Staff members also expressed their hopes for a change in leadership style. They encouraged the search committee to hire a candidate with an “open-door policy,” who would properly the “appreciate” the high-level of staff effort.

At the open town hall later in the afternoon, about a dozen students, faculty and staff emphasized a focus on student engagement, philanthropy and affordability for the new president.

International students said they wanted more avenues to provide their perspectives to the GW community, and other students said they wanted the administration to be more receptive and respectful toward student activism.

Some students spoke about fundraising issues at GW. Yannick Baptist, the president of GW Veterans, said he was particularly troubled by the low number of alumni who participate in fundraising efforts and give back to the university.

“A majority of students see this as an institution where they pay, they do their courses, then they leave,” he said. “How do we create this environment that will be more of a home for them, so they’ll be more inclined to give back?”

Attendees also voiced concerns about the accessibility of the University given its high tuition rates.

“Higher education institutions across the country are facing increasing tuition and decreasing family income,” Thomas Falcigno, the Student Association’s executive vice president, said. “GW is facing this issue of affordability, and I’d like to see GW to be a leader in how we address those problems.”

At the faculty town hall, about eight faculty members voiced concerns on issues like finding a president committed to academics, generating increased resources and revenue, especially given D.C.’s cap on students for the University and taking better advantage of GW’s location in D.C.

Gregory Squires, the chair of the sociology department, said he believes it is important to have a president with strong academic values.

“We need somebody who is committed to core academic values and understands something about the pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking,” Squires said. “That’s my concern because with basic core values, the rest just follows.”

Marie Price, a professor of geography and international affairs, said she was concerned about finding alternative revenue streams to traditional things like tuition and sponsored research, as well as negotiating the student enrollment cap currently placed on the University by D.C.

Carbonell said the he is trying to get a meeting with D.C.’s mayor and city council to discuss the cap, which he called a “constraint on resources,” and something the next president will have to address.

“The student cap itself borders on ridiculous,” Carbonell said. “It’s one thing to cap undergrad students, and there may be some reasons to do that, but it’s absolutely ridiculous for us to have a cap on grad students. So the next president is going to have to be able to be a pretty good politician on that.”

Carbonell said in an interview Monday that as the search process moves forward, he and other trustees will continue to meet with different schools and programs at GW and solicit feedback from all different kinds of members of the University.

“That’s so when the president shows up, he or she can be a successful president, and all of us are behind our president and we see them collectively as our leader – not just the board picked the president,” he said. “So I think that’s why we’re putting the energy in now upfront.”

Jacqueline Thomsen contributed reporting.

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Friday, Aug. 19, 2016 11:56 a.m.

GW names first director of retention

GW’s first director of retention joined the University this month, officials confirmed Friday.

Oliver Street started at GW on Aug. 8 after serving as associate university registrar for academic services at West Virginia University. He will lead GW’s retention efforts, nearly a year after University President Steven Knapp said the University would prioritize ways to keep students at GW. Provost Forrest Maltzman first announced the new role in May.

Laurie Koehler, the vice provost for enrollment management and retention, said Street joins previous hires focused on keeping students enrolled, including a retention officer and a retention coordinator.

“His role will be to collaborate with partners across campus to develop a strategic approach to strengthen retention and graduation rates for undergraduate students while leading a team of dedicated enrollment retention professionals in advancing these efforts,” Koehler said in an email.

The hire comes after GW’s enrollment division was expanded earlier this year to include a focus on retention efforts. Koehler said in an email that the goal of the retention office is “bringing academic and administrative units, as well as administrators, faculty, staff, and students together to ensure that those who matriculate succeed.”

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Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 6:09 p.m.

GW joins Virginia “smart city” project

GW has joined a planned $500 million “smart city” project in Ashburn, Va. to help build the “backbone” for the high-tech city, according to the Washington Business Journal.

GW has partnered with 22 Capital Partners, the private equity firm behind the project, as well as the Center for Innovative Technology, Microsoft and Crescent Ridge Capital Partners LLC to create the 2.5 million-square-foot Gramercy District, “an ‘ecosystem’ of smart city technology,” the Journal reported Monday.

A smart city is a city which combines technology into every aspect of its framework, layout, structures and day-to-day functions, from buildings to parking lots to retail options, according to a Washington Business Journal article from earlier this year.

The partners, as part of a new entity, 22 CityLink, are hoping to develop a “Smart City In-A-Box” platform that can be carried through to more smart cities in the future, linking real estate development with an intelligent technological framework, according to the Journal.

Gramercy District will be the first Smart City In-A-Box, a plan for a smart city designed to be portable and replicated in future smart cities.

“We believe that modern technology is going to be a major force in urbanization projects and can improve the overall quality of life for the citizen,” Minh Le, 22 Capital Partners’ managing partner, told the Washington Business Journal.

Gramercy District will be Metro-accessible (once the Ashburn station is completed) and will be built over the course of at least two phases. It is expected to include more than 900 residential units, about 34,000 square feet of retail space, an 85,000-square-foot hotel, a 350,000-square-foot office building, a high-tech business center and two parking garages, according to the Journalds.

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