Provost Steven Lerman sent a letter to the D.C. attorney general Monday arguing that if the D.C. Superior Court fails to approve a change to the Corcoran’s charter this week and waits until after the start of the fall semester, “the transition issues become far more challenging.”
“Delaying the transfer could create uncertainty that would discourage prospective students from applying, and thus could have a significant negative effect on enrollment,” Lerman wrote in the letter.
He added that GW would be unable to fully grant financial aid to Corcoran students without the court’s approval at a hearing Friday. Nearly 92 percent of Corcoran students receive need or merit-based financial aid, compared to about 87 percent of GW students.
The Corcoran’s federal charter must be revised, which requires court approval, before the institution’s buildings, art and college can be handed over to GW and the National Gallery of Art.
Earlier this month, the advocacy group Save the Corcoran tried to block the historic agreement. The group’s members, including curators and artists, are demanding the Corcoran provide a financial audit, appoint a committee to review the deal with GW, order all art to stay in D.C. and reject the agreement if officials find that mismanagement led to the Corcoran’s downfall.
GW will keep about 125 part-time and full-time Corcoran faculty after the merger, while about 150 Corcoran employees will face unemployment once it takes place. Lerman wrote that without a favorable court decision, the job offers and transition to GW would become “much more complicated.”
Lerman also wrote that professors would have to receive their pay from the Corcoran’s dwindling financial resources, which are supposed to help cover the art school building’s restoration. GW plans to spend $25 million in the first phase of renovations to the Corcoran’s aging building on 17th Street.
The groups that accredit the Corcoran College of Art + Design have voiced concerns over the school’s financial state, but Lerman argued that issue would resolve itself once the school joins GW.
“A favorable ruling issued well before the start of the fall semester would help ensure a more stable and predictable transition, which would be in the best interests of the Corcoran College, its students, and its faculty and employees,” he wrote.
The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, the Greater Washington Urban League, Cultural Tourism D.C. and the Federal City Council have also submitted letters backing the merger.
As the University prepares to welcome Corcoran students to campus this fall, it rolled out a website for the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. Students will move into their residence halls on Aug. 20, a few days before other students, and spend the next six days in orientation.