News and Analysis



This post was written by Hatchet reporter Christina Carpenter.

When students want to change majors or add minors, they usually want to ask: “What if?”

They can now get answers to those “what if” academic questions with a new tool on the online advising system DegreeMAP that will let students choose additional programs and see how close they are to completing those requirements with their current credits.

Administrators hope the new feature on DegreeMAP, which allows students to monitor their progress toward their degree, is one step toward giving students a more interdisciplinary educational experience.

“It’s something I’ve been trying to do for a long time – being able to move around different classes and create different scenarios,” said Varsha Sundararaman, sophomore in the Elliott School of International Affairs and chair of the Student Association Senate’s academic affairs committee.

The new feature is a small step toward a major University goal: allow students to experiment with different academic subjects. The University stressed interdisciplinary learning and research in its decade-long strategic plan, finalized last spring.

Forrest Maltzman, senior vice provost for academic affairs and planning, said last fall that adding the feature was one way the University would try to create more academic flexibility. His office is also combing through academic bulletins to remove some of the University’s “bizarre academic requirements” that prevent students from studying multiple fields.

“I think we say no too often,” Forrest Maltzman, the senior vice provost for academic affairs and planning, said last fall. “We say no through all sorts of rules, all sorts of regulations that sort of limit what students can do.”

Academic advisers are also receiving additional training outside individual schools to help students who study across colleges.

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Hatchet File Photo

Freshmen will be on the clock and under pressure this week.

Course registration starts Thursday – a stressful, sweaty-palmed experience where the classes you’ve been eyeing since Colonial Inauguration are anything but guarantees.

Massive intro-level courses like biological anthropology, comparative politics, international affairs and psychology still have more than 100 seats left, but those go fast when you’re competing against 2,350 freshmen. And does that University Writing class on climate change or that Dean’s Seminar on Shakespeare sound alluring? Those types of small classes are tough tickets too.

You may not get everything you want, but you still have about seven semesters to make up for it. And never fear: It gets much easier once you’re an upperclassman.

Here are a few guidelines will make this week less stressful and help you create a solid first semester schedule.

  • Be prepared to register immediately when GWeb opens – Even if you register on Thursday, the remaining open spots for each class are split between the three days of registration, meaning spots are more limited than it seems.

  • Stay organized – It’s not enough to just pick your classes, you need to have the CRNs for all classes clearly visible on your screen and ready to copy and paste onto the BanWeb page. You can insert up to 10 classes at once, and you should have more than five classes selected, because you probably won’t get into all of your top choices.

  • Have more than one discussion session or lab choice – If your classes require additional discussion sessions or labs, pick out a few different choices in case you cannot register for one. You will not be able to register for the class itself without simultaneously registering for the discussion session or lab.

  • Register for your favorite class first – If there is one class in particular you just have to take this fall, type in that CRN and click submit, then register for the rest of your classes. You will have a better chance of getting into that class, and will immediately return to the registration page to finish registering.

  • Know what classes fill up fast – Language classes are small, and only have a few available spots. So do the smaller sections of any introductory class. Type these CRNs in first, because you will have a better chance of getting into them if you do.

If your schedule still isn’t what you wanted, general registration opens July 16, and all students will be changing their schedule through the beginning of the semester. And if you’re still wondering which classes will land you an easy A, check out  The Hatchet’s guide to the best and worst classes for freshmen.

The list of University Writing classes (with descriptions) are here, and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Seminars are here.

Any other questions? You can probably find the answers on the Office of the Registrar site.

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The GW School of Business, housed in Duques Hall, could require students to take a minor outside the college. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mary Sette.

The GW School of Business is mulling a requirement for undergraduates to minor outside the college, in line with the school’s recent plans for a more liberal arts-based curriculum.

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, the associate dean for undergraduate programs, said the plan for a required minor is still tentative, but added that feedback has been “positive” from faculty, students and alumni.

The business school would be the first at GW to mandate that students take a minor, which usually comprises about 18 credits.

The requirement would need the greenlight from the school’s faculty. Plans for a new curriculum has been pushed back twice over the past year, and Bajeux-Besnainou has said she does not have a target date for a vote or implementation.

“The specific details cannot be discussed yet,” she said in an email. “The only thing I can say is that we are looking at a lighter business core to provide the bandwidth for a more in-depth liberal arts education.”

The reform would be part of Dean Doug Guthrie’s agenda to focus the school on ethics and social responsibility in an era of Wall Street corruption.

While Bajeux-Besnainou said she hopes the required minor coupled with the school’s new liberal arts approach will give more “flexibility to our students,”  junior Sevara Mallyn is not so sure.

Mallyn, a junior double concentrating marketing and international business, said she thinks the business school already has enough requirements, and gives “very little leeway to make more demands of their students.”

“Students will have to think about what minor to take when they are not even sure what to major in,” said Mallyn.

Now, undergraduates take only one or two non-business electives each year and including courses on ethics, foreign language and science.

Bajeux-Besnainou has said the school would look to tweak that format to give students more academic breathing room.

Sophomore Matt Guarnaccia shared concerns over this possible new requirement.

“I think the business school should worry about how to increase their percentage of satisfied graduating students rather than potentially upsetting them further by making it a necessity to have a minor,” Guarnaccia said.

Bajeux-Besnainou said there would be some difficulties “if students have a hard time deciding on a particular minor, in which case the advising office will serve an important role.”

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The University will hold regular classes Monday, Dec. 10 and Tuesday, Dec. 11 – days originally scheduled as make-up and reading days.

The change, announced by a University-wide email Wednesday, adjusts the academic schedule after two days of canceled classes last week because of Hurricane Sandy.

Students now will only use Wednesday, Dec. 12 as a reading day for exams.

Because the changes wipes out an originally scheduled makeup day on Dec. 10, professors with other classes to make up on those days may schedule classes on Friday, Dec. 7 or Saturday, Dec. 8.

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Duques Hall, School of Business

The School of Business, housed in Duques Hall, fell seven slots in Bloomberg Businessweek's rankings of undergraduate programs. Hatchet File photo. Hatchet file photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kelly Quinn.

The GW School of Business’s undergraduate program slipped seven spots to No. 66 in the annual ranking released Tuesday by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The rankings, which are weighed on nine measures including student satisfaction, job placement and academic quality, showed the school losing the most ground in surveys from corporate recruiters.

“I’m obviously concerned. Businessweek is a tough one because it’s quantitative, so small numbers make huge fluctuations. I don’t want to overreact to this though,” said Murat Tarimcilar, the business school’s vice dean of programs and education.

The school maintained a top-20 nod among schools who fed undergraduate students into top master’s programs.

This school’s ranking was its lowest in the seven years Businessweek has judged undergraduate programs. Tarimcilar added that the volatility of the rankings was frustrating, with the school starting at No. 41 in 2006 and fluctuating from year to year.

He said business school administrators would go to New York City to meet with Businessweek editors and examine more detailed data gathered from student and recruiter surveys.

Geoff Gloeckler, a staff editor at Businessweek who compiles the business school rankings, said the business school’s low student satisfaction, which sat at No. 96 this year, has been its undoing.

Students noted in surveys that communication with administrators fell short of expectations, Gloeckler said. This hurt the school, he said, “especially when you see these other schools where students are lauding how great the communication is.”

Students were also dissatisfied with the school’s academic advising, Gloeckler said.

Murat Tarimcilar, the business school's vice dean for programs and education, said administrators would examine the ranking's survey data, which hurt the school's standing. Hatchet File Photo

The drop comes as business school administrators are planning an undergraduate curriculum overhaul, which business school Dean Doug Guthrie has said will favor ethics and social responsibility.

When he took over as dean two years ago, Guthrie said he said raising the school’s ranking was a top priority.

“[The Businessweek ranking] is a great justification to go through with this curriculum overhaul and strategic planning. I’m interested in an incentive for the faculty to look at the curriculum and program as a whole and question everything we do,” Tarimcilar said. “It’s not an alarming thing, but it’s something that tells us there’s some room where we can improve.”

Gloeckler said the curriculum revamp, especially one that stresses ethics, would likely prove beneficial to the University in the long run.

The business school also faced drops in graduate program rankings from U.S. News & World Report and The Financial Times this year. The Aspen Institute, which promotes social consciousness in business, ranked the business school graduate programs No. 11 in the world last year in promoting ethics and responsibility.

Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business earned the Bloomberg Businessweek’s top spot for the third year.

“There’s no denying that rankings play a role in students decisions. As shallow as rankings are, and it shows in terms of fluctuations with small data variations, it’s a reality of life,” Tarimcilar said. “We all have to live it.”

– Cory Weinberg contributed to this report


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University President Steven Knapp and professor Martha Finnemore will be formally inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday.

Knapp and Finnemore will be among 178 of the nation’s most influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors and institutional leaders welcomed into the esteemed honorary society and leading research center.

Knapp’s background in literary theory, philosophy and religion aligns with the academy’s goals.

“One of the key missions of the academy is to promote the role of scholarship in helping the nation and the world address critical social and intellectual problems. That effort is something to which I am strongly committed, and an example of my work in that area would be the lectures I have given on the role of the humanities,” Knapp said in April when his election to the academy was announced.

Knapp, who taught English literature at the University of California, Berkeley before serving as dean of arts and sciences and then provost at Johns Hopkins University, is a vocal supporter of the humanities.

Finnemore, a professor of political science and international affairs, will also join the academy this year. The author of several prize-winning books and a variety of articles has conducted research on global governance, international organizations, ethics and social theory.

“I’m delighted to be part of the academy and looking forward to supporting its mission,” Finnemore said last spring. “The academy’s work is an important component of independent policy research and I look forward to contributing to the academy’s research efforts.”

Since its founding in 1780, the academy has inducted leading intellectuals such as George Washington, Daniel Webster and Albert Einstein.

The academy’s more than 4,000 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members are elected through anonymous nominations, followed by a vote of the entire membership. After joining the society, members can contribute to policy studies, write for the academy’s publications or serve on governance committees, among other things.

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