News and Analysis

Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Michael Brown announced last week that he would leave his position this spring. Hatchet File Photo.

Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Michael Brown announced last week that he would leave his position by the end of the academic year. Hatchet File Photo.

The Elliott School of International Affairs is immediately launching a search for a new leader to replace Dean Michael Brown, University President Steven Knapp said Tuesday.

The search will be GW’s fifth in the last three years, and the second GW will conduct this fall. A committee of Elliott School professors, administrators and students will interview candidates before likely inviting a group of finalists to campus this spring.

Brown, who announced he would step down after a decade at the school’s helm last week, was the last holdover dean from former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s 19-year tenure.

The School of Nursing will continue to search for a replacement for Dean Jean Johnson this fall. Johnson plans to remain in her role as dean until December, Knapp said at a Faculty Assembly meeting Tuesday.

In June 2013, Johnson announced she would step down by the end of the 2014 academic year, but agreed to stay on until a replacement was chosen. The University pushed off the search after the GW School of Business unexpectedly had to find a replacement for former dean Doug Guthrie, who was fired last fall.

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At the Faculty Assembly on Tuesday, Provost Steven Lerman told professors that GW hoped to restore about $20 million in expenditures that it was forced to cut this year. Daniel Rich | Hatchet Photographer

At the Faculty Assembly on Tuesday, Provost Steven Lerman told professors that GW hoped to restore about $20 million in expenditures that it was forced to cut this year. Daniel Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The University was forced to make up about $20 million in its budget this year, after a decline in graduate enrollment and overspending put GW below its projections last fiscal year.

Provost Steven Lerman told faculty members at the Faculty Assembly on Tuesday that academic and administrative departments had been forced to cut costs this year after the University had to dip into its reserve funds at the end of the last fiscal year.

GW fell about $10.9 million short of its expected net revenue last year, since enrollment in graduate programs fell across most schools. GW’s total expenses last fiscal year were also about $10.6 million more than planned, Lerman said.

“It is very clear that the issues in the downturn of our graduate revenues has affected us in ways we’d rather not have happened, and the key here is to restore graduate enrollment. Each of the deans is looking at all their programs, and we continue to work with them,” Lerman said.

To make up for its losses, Lerman said GW reduced its number of vice provosts by one, cut costs in schools and brought in about $1 million through a program that brought about 400 Brazilian students to GW this past summer.

The decline in graduate enrollment meant the University spent less on financial aid for graduate students, Lerman said. He also said that GW cut about $6 million in areas that report to University President Steven Knapp and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz.

Lerman said the University would make up for its losses this year, and that he hopes to restore some of the areas where GW has reduced costs.

“Looking at the 2015 numbers, we are meeting the numbers we need to meet. Our undergraduate enrollment is actually a little higher than forecast. Our graduate enrollment is on target, although that may vary by school. In the aggregate, that is a true statement,” he said.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Victoria Sheridan.

Three days of traveling with the College Democrats on their canvassing trip to Kentucky couldn’t all fit in one story. Here are some behind-the-scenes moments from the weekend.

1. Sleeping on the ground wasn’t what kept them up at night

While the canvassers knew they would be lodging in a gymnasium, they didn’t anticipate that some lights would not go off in the facility, even when “lights-out” time arrived.

On Friday night, some students’ had an even harder time falling asleep when they heard sounds outside that they thought were either gunshots or fireworks.

But College Democrats Vice President Amelia Williams said it didn’t hurt their enthusiasm during the trip.

“One would think that after riding on a bus for 11 hours and then sleeping on a hard floor in a fully lit room, people wouldn’t be so cheerful and excited to do this,” she said.

2. A group outing turned into a surprise “birthday party” for one College Democrat

During a group dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack, the students decided to help a fellow canvasser, who is a junior, pretend to celebrate his “16th birthday.”

Other patrons looked on at the large group, joined by the waiters, as they cheered for their friend who danced and hula-hooped while others sang “Happy Birthday.”

3. One canvasser’s conversation with a voter almost had a chance to go viral

Several residents of the Louisville neighborhoods had posted “no soliciting signs” outside their homes, but one homeowner didn’t realize that College Democrats member Greg Gaffney-Bills was there to discuss politics.

The resident tried to film Gaffney-Bills violating the rule, and he and his girlfriend secretly taped their conversation with Gaffney-Bills. Only when Gaffney-Bills was about to leave did they tell him what they had originally planned.

Had they not been Democrats themselves, they said they would have shared the video on Youtube, hoping to embarrass the sophomore.

4. Wardrobe malfunctions

Many students filled their bags for the trip with t-shirts depicting President Barack Obama and their GW College Democrats shirts with Obama’s name emblazoned on the back.

But it wasn’t until they got to Kentucky that canvassers remembered to be careful not to connect Democratic candidates there with Obama. Alison Grimes, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, wanted to differentiate herself from the president and the administration’s policies that don’t resonate with Kentucky residents, like Obama’s policies toward coal mining.

Luckily for them, the weather was so cold they had to cover up anyway, and their t-shirts were hidden under jackets and sweatshirts.

Sophomores Christine Farzan and Lauren Hoffman campaign in Kentucky with the GW College Democrats last weekend. Hatchet File Photo by Victoria Sheridan | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomores Christine Farzan and Lauren Hoffman campaign in Kentucky with the GW College Democrats last weekend. Hatchet File Photo by Victoria Sheridan | Hatchet Photographer

5. Religious canvassers?

Some student canvassers struggled to keep residents from shutting the doors in their faces in particular in one neighborhood. A Jehovah’s Witness center was nearby, and a few students said neighbors probably mistook them as preachers.

“It made me feel like a Jehovah’s Witness,” freshman Sean McCormack said.

6. “The West Wing” wasn’t the only way they passed time on the bus

Students spent about 20 hours of the three-day trip on a coach bus without Wi-Fi or electric outlets, so the students made sure they had enough movies and TV shows on DVD to pass the time. They watched hours of “The West Wing,” and also picked films like “Mean Girls,” “Harry Potter” and “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.”

While watching “The Mrs. Carter World Tour,” some students even sang along, danced and cheered as if they were audience members at a Beyoncé show.

7. An acoustic guitar jam session

One student decided to surprise the others by breaking out his guitar and serenading them one night.

A group of students gathered around as he played chords and asked them to sing along to popular holiday songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” When one student requested Sinatra, he played songs like “My Way” and “New York, New York.”

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Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 5:24 p.m.

GW Museum to open in March

Updated: Oct. 7, 2014 at 1:28 p.m.

This post was written by assistant news editor Jacqueline Thomsen.

The GW Museum will open to the public March 21, after construction was completed this summer. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum will open to the public March 21, after construction was completed this summer. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum and Textile Museum will officially open to the public this spring.

The museum complex will open March 21, almost four years after the University first announced the projects. Construction was completed on the 46,000-square-foot building on the corner of 21st and G streets this summer.

“We look forward to celebrating the results of these efforts with the University community and many others when the museum opens this March,” museum director John Wetenhall said in a release. “The opening shows should be spectacular.”

The GW Museum will feature artifacts from the Textile Museum and exhibits from donor Albert Small’s Washingtoniana collection. Two of the three opening exhibits will feature items from the Washingtoniana collection, and the third will be the Textile Museum’s largest to date.

The conservation and collections resource center on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus will hold remaining museum pieces.

GW expanded the original budget and size of the facility 50 percent last May to house additional collections and exhibits. Most of the donations for the museum came from Small’s collection and the Textile Museum.

The GW Museum opened in June for a preview with 400 guests, but none of the textiles, artifacts or other exhibits had been moved into the building.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW decided to expand the facility’s size and budget in May. It actually did so in May 2013. We regret this error.

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When GW College Democrats shipped off to Louisville, Ky. to campaign for Senate candidate Alison Grimes, Hatchet staff writer Victoria Sheridan tagged along with the group.

She watched as canvassers knocked on 5,000 doors in one weekend to get out the vote and urge voters to cast their ballots for the Democratic hopeful.

And as 40 members of College Democrats spent the weekend entertaining lively conversations, recovering from a couple of political faux-pas and even chasing an escaped goat, Sheridan captured it all, with photos and writing.

She sat down Monday with “Page Nine” to share her experience as a political reporter.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ellie Smith.

Junior Casey Syron is a member of Delta Tau Delta, which dedicated its fall philanthropy week to raising money for Syron's family as his father battles cancer for the fourth time. Hatchet File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Delta Tau Delta dedicated its fall philanthropy week to raising money for member Casey Syron’s father. Hatchet File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Delta Tau Delta raised $24,000 through its philanthropy events this week, which will support Casey Syron’s family after his dad was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time.

The fraternity hosted fundraisers with Sweetgreen and Captain Cookie and held a cornhole tournament. About $2,000 came in during the final two hours of the campaign, which ended Tuesday, Syron said.

Syron, a junior, said he was “not surprised” by the success of the effort, which also supported rare cancer research at the Katie Moore Foundation.

“We knew that we had two amazing causes for which we were raising money and all of the brothers were very passionate about raising as much money as we could. I was more surprised how fast we raised the money,” Syron said.

Tom Syron, Casey Syron’s father, was diagnosed with stage-four stomach cancer last year, his fourth cancer diagnosis since 1988. The Syron family has struggled to pay his medical bills as he receives chemotherapy every other week and is unable to work.

Delt raised more than five times what the fraternity brought in during their week-long fundraising effort last year for juvenile diabetes. The group’s campaign to support the Syron family was picked up by the Associated Press and the Huffington Post.

“It has been Delt’s goal from the beginning to have my family’s story reach as many people as possible, and we have and still are achieving that,” Syron said. “It has been incredible to see how far the story has reached. Seeing my dad’s face on the front page of the Huffington Post is not something that happens every day.”

The Syron family and friends are now using the Twitter hashtag #SyronsOnEllen in an effort to be featured on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” Syron said.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mariana de la Maza.

Professors in the Milken Institute School of Public Health debated ways to curb the spread of Ebola in West Africa and around the world in an expert panel discussion Thursday.

As the number of Ebola-related deaths continues to rise, GW faculty explained how the disease has become a worldwide problem, and how political leaders can take the proper responses now to stop fatalities.

Seven professors hashed out how weak bureaucratic systems in West African countries have made it easier for Ebola to spread, and how the Global Health Security Agenda can help slow down the disease.

Here are five takeaways from the event:

1. Political background

Rebecca Katz, an associate professor in health policy, said the United Nations has coordinated emergency responses to the outbreak, and members are working together to contain the virus.

President Barack Obama is also taking action in response to the crisis, she said. The president announced last month that the U.S. would build treatment units in West African countries, the New York Times reported.

“[The] concept that nations need to come together to adjust to these threats has been building for a while,” Katz said.

2. Why response has been a challenge

Professors in GW’s global health department are looking to build support for the idea that countries must increase their capacities to respond to the risks of Ebola.

Katz said the lack of resources in West Africa is one the the reasons that the response so far has been slow.

“It’s a region of the world that has not been the recipient of many resources,” she said.

3. Global Health Security Agenda

Katz and her colleagues have analyzed international health regulations to help countries think “about how they built capacity to be able to detect, assess, report and respond to public health crisis,” she said.

Global health professors are analyzing the Global Health Security Agenda, which looks at global health in terms of international security and promotes rapid response to outbreaks, in relation to the Ebola crisis. Specifically, they have been involved in “mapping the overlap between global health security and other frameworks,” Katz said.

4. Efforts to reduce transmission

Ron Waldman, a professor of of global health, spoke about his involvement with Save the Children International, a non-governmental organization that is supporting children in Liberia.

“Isolation is key to stopping this epidemic,” Waldman said, adding that without isolation, there is little chance of slowing transmission among people.

5. Potential consequences

Alan Greenberg, the chair of the epidemiology and biostatistics department who led the discussion, prompted panelists about the long-term and short-term consequences that the outbreak could have, especially on health care workers.

Because hospitals are limited in the number of patients they can care for at any one time, outside medical workers have traveled to the area to support them.

Waldman also spoke about child protection, noting that there could be a rise in the number of orphaned children in the area if parents die from Ebola.

He said food distribution, education and family income have all become issues, causing economies in West Africa to suffer.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brandon Lee.

Howard University Hospital is treating a patient with Ebola-like symptoms, NBC4 Washington reported Friday.

NBC4 reported that the patient recently traveled to Nigeria and is in stable condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the hospital are testing the patient, who has been isolated.

The D.C. Department of Health is also monitoring the situation.

Last week, an Ebola case was confirmed in Dallas, the first Ebola diagnosis in the U.S., the Washington Post reported. Other patients in New York, California, Florida and New Mexico have been tested for the virus, but all the results have come back negative, the Post reported.

An American physician was admitted to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. after being exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.

Those who have Ebola are not contagious until they show symptoms, such as a fever of at least 101.5 degrees, headache and vomiting. It can only be contracted through contact with bodily fluids.

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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 5:27 p.m.

Sophomore to lead Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity

A sophomore will serve as president of GW's Phi Sigma Kappa chapter for the rest of the semester. The change comes after a student reported that she was sexually assaulted at the chapter's townhouse at 601 21st St. Hatchet File Photo by Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

A sophomore will serve as president of GW’s Phi Sigma Kappa chapter for the rest of the semester. The change comes after a student reported that she was sexually assaulted at the chapter’s townhouse at 601 21st St. Hatchet File Photo by Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: Oct. 2, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.

Sophomore Toby Nagel will lead Phi Sigma Kappa for the rest of the fall semester, he confirmed this week.

Nagel replaces former president Sonny Finch, who did not return requests for comment.

The change in leadership comes after a female student reported last month that she was sexually assaulted by a male student in the chapter’s privately owned townhouse at 601 21st St.

Nagel was selected two weeks ago to serve as president of the chapter, said Foggy Bottom Grocery owner Kris Hart, one of the chapter’s advisers and Nagel’s half brother.

Hart, an alumnus who served as president of the chapter when he attended GW, said the fraternity has had a “difficult month.”

“When the extremely unfortunate circumstances went down, and we don’t know much about it, he decided to step up and take a leadership role in a time of very difficult stress,” Hart said.

Center for Student Engagement Director Tim Miller and Greek Life Director Christina Witkowicki declined to comment on the new president or provide an update on an investigation into the reported assault. University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt deferred to the chapter’s national organization.

In an interview last month, Miller said GW is working with the national organization to investigate the alleged assault, which was reported Aug. 28. Miller said then that the investigation would likely be ongoing “for a while.”

“Any time you’re talking about an incident that involves any group, you have to make determinations that we haven’t been able to make yet about which one is responsible – the organization or a member,” Miller said.

Miller said once the investigation is complete, any sanctions against PSK would be posted on the University’s list of sanctioned student organizations.

Michael Carey, the national organization’s executive vice president, said he could not comment because the investigation is ongoing.

“I have been working with my chapter and GW administrators to resolve this matter accordingly,” Carey said.

A spokesman at the Metropolitan Police Department had no update on the case Thursday, which he said remains open.

Peyton Zere, president of the Interfraternity Council, did not return a request for comment.

The assault marks at least the fifth sexual abuse to be reported in a Greek townhouse over the last two years.

Eva Palmer contributed reporting.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Nagel is Hart’s step brother. He is his half brother. We regret this error.

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This post was written by assistant news editors Eva Palmer and Jacqueline Thomsen

Angelique Simpson-Marcus, the Prince George’s County high school principal who allegedly harassed at least three former employees, may be one of GW’s most controversial local alumni.

Simpson-Marcus has earned two degrees from GW and is a part-time professor. This month, the president of the Prince George’s County NAACP chapter and a county council member have called for her to resign, the Washington Post reported.

That comes after a former employee at Largo High School accused Simpson-Marcus of discriminating against him and won a lawsuit in August against Prince George’s County Board of Education. Two other lawsuits from former employees detail how Simpson-Marcus, who is black, allegedly harassed them and made inappropriate comments about race to the teachers at the school.

Need some context? Here’s a breakdown of the facts.

A connection to GW

Simpson-Marcus was a doctoral student in education administration and policy studies in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, according to a GW Today article from 2009. She graduated in 2012, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said.

Her doctoral thesis looked at strategies that African American women could use to succeed as superintendents. Simpson-Marcus also earned an educational specialist degree from GSEHD in 2003.

A GW Today feature celebrated how Largo High School had met the federal standards set by the No Child Left Behind education reform act for the first time under Simpson-Marcus’ leadership.

The article described her “efforts and determination” to improve the school, and reports that her work “inspired students and staff to achieve.”

“She credits her GW education with paving the way for her professional success,” the GW Today article read.

Simpson-Marcus is a professional lecturer in educational leadership in GSEHD, Hiatt said.

She is not listed as teaching a course for the fall semester in the University schedule of classes.

Cases moving forward

Three lawsuits were filed against the Prince George’s County school board in 2011. The cases are now gaining traction after the August court decision and the call for Simpson-Marcus’ resignation.

Simpson-Marcus has not been fired from her job as principal of Largo High School.

Here are the specifics of each case:

Jon Everhart, who was an English teacher at Largo High School from 2003 to 2010, initially sued the school district for $5 million, claiming Simpson-Marcus repeatedly humiliated him in front of students and called him “poor white trash,” according to the court documents. He says that he was forced out of his job for being white.

Everhart won his court case in August, and will receive about half a million dollars from the school district, said his lawyer, Bryan Chapman.

Everhart was fired from the school after receiving two unsatisfactory job evaluations. He claims that his poor performance was because of daily harassment, according to the court documents.

Chapman said his client suffered from severe health problems because of the alleged daily harassment.

“The stress caused him to develop high blood pressure, and the high blood pressure ruined his health to the point where he developed heart problems,” he said.

Chapman added that the school district has filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

Ruth Johnson, who worked as a guidance counselor, claims the school moved her to a new office after she complained to the Prince George’s County school district superintendent that Simpson-Marcus made derogatory comments to her.

When Johnson asked why she was being transferred, Simpson-Marcus said, “You talked to my boss,” according to court documents.

The district later moved Johnson to a different school in the county, where the school superintendent suggested to the county that she be fired. She is works at Bladensberg High School, according to the court documents, and her case is set to begin pre-trial meetings this December, according to the court docket.

Tracey Allison worked as a secretary in Simpson-Marcus’s front office and claims the principal made offensive statements about her race and gender, including calling her “hood rat” and “ghetto.”

When Allison approached school district officials, she says she was ignored and developed severe stress and panic attacks because of the continued harassment from Simpson-Marcus. She transferred to another school in the district in 2010. Her case was settled out of court this summer, and the details of the settlement are sealed by a court order.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to comment on the cases, citing the University’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Prince George’s County Public Schools spokeswoman Keesha Bullock also declined to comment, citing the district’s policy not to comment on pending or resolved cases.

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