News and Analysis


Graduate School of Education and Human Development

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School slid out of the list of the top 20 law schools in the country while other graduate programs improved in the rankings released by U.S. News & World Report this week.

The law school is now ranked No. 22 nationwide, tied with programs at the University of Alabama, the University of Iowa and the University of Notre Dame. GW had previously tied for No. 20 with the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and the University of Southern California, but the school held onto its No. 2 ranking for part-time programs.

The selectivity of the school’s full-time law programs dipped for the second consecutive year, but other factors in the rankings, like median LSAT scores and median undergraduate GPA, held steady. Last spring, University officials hired Blake D. Morant to lead the school.

GW School of Business graduate programs rose seven spots to No. 58, tying with Baylor University and the University of Alabama. The school had dropped nine places last year to No. 65. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development also leaped forward three places to tie with three other schools at No. 55, after sliding down 11 spots last year.

Both schools saw large improvements in the rankings for online program, with GSEHD making the top 10 for online education programs and the business school jumping up 20 spots to No. 44 for its online MBA program.

GSEHD is in the middle of implementing an 18-month plan to improve enrollment, which has included creating more online courses.

The business school is in its first year of leadership under Dean Linda Livingstone. The previous dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired after the school overspent by about $13 million.

The engineering school saw a steep drop in the rankings, with graduate programs falling nine places to No. 99 and tying with four other institutions. Administrators hope the recent opening of the Science and Engineering Hall will improve the reputation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, whose graduate programs improved to No. 90 in the nation last year.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences also took a hit, dropping from No. 60 to 67 for research and tying with four other medical schools. School leaders are looking to raise $225 million in the next few years as part of the University’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, with about $50 million of the money SMHS raises expected to go toward research.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development received more than $1 million to start a program to train students to become science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

The National Math and Science Initiative gave GW $1.45 million to implement the program, which three of GW’s top academic leaders will launch at an event Tuesday. The program, called GWTeach, is based on the institute’s UTeach program, which offers students majoring in STEM fields the chance to also receive a certification in teaching.

Provost Steven Lerman, Ben Vinson, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and Michael Feuer, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, will attend the kick-off event Tuesday.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that D.C. offers over 45,000 listings for STEM jobs, more than any other major U.S. city.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Updated: Jan. 12, 2015 at 11:14 p.m.

One of the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attacks claimed al-Awlaki, who took classes at GW, inspired the attacks. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris claimed Anwar al-Awlaki, a former GW student, inspired the attacks. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack last week claimed he was inspired to do so by Anwar al-Awlaki, a former GW student.

Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers, told members of the French media that he was sent by al-Qaida and financed by al-Awlaki to carry out an attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper headquartered in Paris, that left 12 people dead, CNN reported.

Kouachi and his older brother were later killed outside of Paris after a police standoff.

Al-Awlaki was also tied to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Fort Hood shooting, the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

FBI agents followed al-Awlaki around D.C. and Foggy Bottom after the Sept. 11 attacks as he took classes in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Al-Awlaki was killed by a drone in Yemen in 2011.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled the name of the satirical newspaper. It is Charlie Hebdo, not Charlie Hedbo. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

College rankings keep growing more popular – and attracting more criticism.

There’s a lot of debate about what matters most, and whether organizations should rank colleges by what students are interested in, or hold institutions accountable for offering top-notch programs to their students.

Higher education experts gathered in Duques Hall on Thursday to debate existing university ranking systems and the ratings system under development by the U.S. Department of Education. The department released its framework for the system last month.

Here’s what you should know:

1. Rankings do matter

Ron Ehrenbert, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, said the popular U.S. News and World Report rankings focus on providing information to applicants, and that the rankings can affect how many application an institution might receive in the next year.

A study has shown that colleges or universities whose ranking improved tended to receive more applications, leading to a smaller acceptance rate and more prestige for the institution, he said. If their ranking fell, so did the number of applicants and the institution’s reputation.

“Administrators say they don’t pay attention to the rankings, they say they don’t read them, but that’s not true,” Ehrenbert said.

2. Pushing out the weak

Sandy Baum, a fellow in GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, said it could be dangerous for the federal government to come out with their own ranking system, but that the department’s method of creating the ratings was strong.

“The one problem with the federal government coming out with a system is that it’s just another one in the whole set of ratings,” she said. “It becomes the rating system, and I don’t think there’s anything to do to change that.”

She questioned why some schools that haven’t produced successful graduates were still receiving federal funding, even though their students weren’t receiving a proper education.

“The reason, I think, this whole [thing] is happening is we haven’t figured out how to, politically, push those schools out,” she said. “And if we could do that, maybe we wouldn’t have to go through this complicated lens.”

3. A ranking for everyone

Both Ehrenbert and Baum said that the ranking systems that are now popular aren’t perfect and don’t have the right measurements for every possible applicant.

But if students look at the right ranking system, then they should be able to get the kind of feedback they’re looking for, Baum said.

“The fact is that you know what U.S. News is about is prestige and reputation and if what you want is a highly selective institution with a high reputation you’re right to look to them,” she said. “But if you’re saying that’s how you’re going to value institutions then you really have a problem.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
GW's online programs in education and business saw their rankings increase this year, while the School of Nursing's ranking slipped. Hatchet file photo.

GW’s online programs in education and business rose in the rankings this year, while the School of Nursing’s ranking slipped. Hatchet File Photo

GW’s education and business online programs rebounded in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The programs, which dropped in the rankings last year, shot up this year. The School of Nursing fell from last year’s all-time high.

The annual rankings come as GW has placed a higher priority on offering new online degree programs to attract more students and make up for a decline in graduate enrollment. Nationally, fewer students have applied to graduate school as the economy has picked up since the 2008 recession.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development jumped into the top 10 of online graduate education programs, tying at No. 8 with Auburn and Ball State universities.

The school, which is in the middle of an 18-month plan to increase enrollment and introduce new academic programs, saw enrollment drop 22 percent over the past five years, according to the most recent data. The school was ranked No. 44 for graduate education schools last year.

The GW School of Business’ online MBA program also shot up, jumping 20 spots to No. 44. Its non-MBA online programs were ranked No. 22.

The school’s online rankings dropped last year after former dean Doug Guthrie was fired for the school overspending by about $13 million, much of which went toward online programs. The school added four new online programs in 2012.

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, has led online learning at GW for the last two years. Hatchet File Photo

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, has led online learning at GW for the last two years. Hatchet File Photo

The programs are evaluated based on selectivity, reputation among peer schools and services provided to students.

GW’s School of Nursing, which came in at No. 4 last year, fell to No. 9, tying with Duquesne and Graceland universities and the University of Texas–Tyler.

The nursing school has kept its enrollment steady, since most of its graduate programs are offered online.

The University’s online bachelor’s programs, most of which are housed in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, jumped to No. 20, a large increase from last year’s ranking at No. 56.

Last year, GW introduced an in-house shop to make it easier for faculty to create online courses and degree programs. The University could launch at least six new online degree programs this year.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The D.C. Council approved $18 million in renovations to the historic Stevens School on Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo

The D.C. Council approved $18 million in renovations to the historic Stevens School on Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brandon Lee.

The D.C. Council approved major renovations to the Thaddeus Stevens School on Tuesday, preparing it to house a program for autistic students.

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Council member and mayor-elect, proposed the emergency legislation for up to $18 million in renovations for the school, and to build a 10-story office building in the adjacent lot. Ivymount, an autism education program, will move into the 21st Street building once construction is complete, and will be the first occupant of the historically black charter school since it was shut down by D.C. Public Schools in 2008.

“We didn’t have any specific desire to move into the District, but when the opportunity came up, we knew it was a great location because it’s very close to GW,” Ivymount’s director of development, Molly Whalen, said.

Headquartered in Rockville, Md., Ivymount has worked closely with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development to complete projects on autism spectrum and developmental research. The city will also use the school as a training ground for future public school teachers.

The plan has been well-received by neighbors, who had expressed concern several years ago when one group floated turning the Stevens school into an apartment building. Community leaders feared it would house rowdy GW students.

Part of the renovation plan, which was brought to the D.C. government in September, mandates site developer Akridge to erect a statue of Thaddeus Stevens, an abolitionist congressman during the Civil War, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The current site also temporarily houses a D.C. fire engine and firetruck while their original home at the West End fire station undergoes its own large-scale renovations next month.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

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.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Student speaker David Surratt addressed his fellow graduates at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Student speaker David Surratt addressed his fellow graduates at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

About 300 students from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development gathered Saturday to celebrate their graduation from the program, which offers degrees in areas like international education, higher education administration and education policy.

The ceremony also marked 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned segregation in public schools.

Here are the top moments from the event:

1. Ready for the future

Introducing GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer, graduate Dalphine Antoinette Joppy thanked the school’s faculty for making her degree a worthwhile pursuit.

“Every paper, project, internship experience was relevant and rigorous,” said Joppy, who studied educational administration and policy. “I’ve been equipped with qualities necessary for success in life and in my field.”

She thanked the professors who guided her research and encouraged her to share her opinions about complex issues.

2. Don’t let pessimism “puncture your passion.”

Feuer urged graduates to always see the glass as half-full, even when the data tells a darker picture.

He highlighted statistics that show major income and inequality gaps in the U.S.: 60 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on segregation, only 14 percent of whites are in schools that can be considered multicultural.

“There is still much work to be done,” Feuer said. “No single one of us can solve all these problems, can dismantle inequity or deliver fully on the promises made at the birth of our Republic.”

This spring, Feuer led a team of researchers to analyze inequality in D.C. public schools and assess the effects of controversial school reforms. He reminded graduates Saturday to not give up in the face of lagging progress.

“Watching you this morning, I see a parade of the passionate, and you have rekindled my optimism yet again,” Feuer said. “You are the hope, the antidote to pessimism.”

Michael Feuer, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, presents a graduate's child with a scroll at the GSEHD celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Michael Feuer, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, presents a graduate’s child with a scroll at the GSEHD celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

3. Be an agent of change.

Cora Marrett, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, gave the keynote address. Encouraging graduates to live out the school’s mission statement, Marrett called on them to use their classroom experiences and research projects to become “agents of change.”

Marrett also pointed to signs of progress in the education system, such as the rise in the number of students graduating from high school since 1983.

“Perhaps no one can single-handedly change the makeup of the science and engineering workforce or close the gaps in opportunity, but consider how powerful the actions of the collectivity can be,” Marrett said.

4. Use your minute

David Surratt, the associate dean of students at the University of California, Berkeley, took to the podium as the student speaker of the event.

Surratt earned a doctorate in higher education administration Saturday. The son of a black father from Oklahoma and an immigrant mother from South Korea, Surratt was the first member of his family to go to college – let alone receive a Ph.D.

After reflecting on hist time in GSEHD, Surratt encouraged his fellow graduates to find joy in serving others as they pursue careers in education.

“Just a tiny little minute, but an eternity is in it,” Surratt said. “That minute contains our eternity and it symbolizes the moment in our lives when we have a ripple effect in society as each of us dedicates our passion to impact others.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for the next generation of educators to ignore their own backgrounds and come together to solve the nation’s education shortcomings. Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.

The nation’s top education leader urged teachers across the country to embrace the growth of alternative training programs like Teach for America and strive toward a common strategy of high-quality instruction.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday in the Marvin Center that graduate degree-holding educators must abandon an “us vs. them” mentality to focus on preparing a generation of students that can compete in a global workforce.

“We have one common enemy, and it is academic failure,” Duncan said. “Not everyone may agree, but I am for different routes into teaching, whether it be traditional schools of education like GW or alternative routes that bring great talent in from other walks of life.”

The secretary, speaking with Graduate School of Education and Human Development Dean Michael Feuer and other experts, has made similar appeals at GW in the past.

Duncan and the other members of the panel aimed to recruit students for teaching jobs as part of a nationwide Department of Education campaign, which will visit 21 college campuses to encourage high-achieving students to become educators after graduation.

Duncan said public education was the only way to shrink the nation’s income gap, calling the system an instrument of “social justice.”

“Right now, we are dealing with very significant, sad bit of data that we have allowed income inequality in this country to go way out of control,” he said. “Education is one of the areas that is suffering the most from this, and also the area where we have the best chance of trying to address it and maybe even reverse it.”

GW sent the fifth-most graduates to Teach For America out of any medium-sized school this year. More than 300 graduates have entered the program over the last two decades.

Education reformers have criticized the program for sending 20-somethings with five weeks of training into the classroom. But Duncan said hard work and effective teaching outweigh a teacher’s background.

He called on GW students to give back to communities by becoming teachers.

“If you want to strengthen families and communities, if you want to transform the lives of children, there is no place better to do that than in our nation’s classrooms,” Duncan said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The GW School of Nursing jumped into the top five online programs in the country, but the business and education schools slumped in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings Tuesday.

The School of Nursing ranked fourth, a 12-spot jump from last year, reaching the highest ranking the school has seen since forming in 2010. The school got high marks for faculty training and technology, seeing its lowest rank in admissions selectivity.

GW's online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

GW’s online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Kim Acquaviva applauded the ranking, and said it could have been bolstered by the college’s strengthening reputation.

“Because GW does have a strong name in terms of the School of Nursing online program, I think that could have been helpful,” Acquaviva said. “But if our program had been ranked 50th, I would probably feel as good about our program as I do being ranked fourth.”

She said the nursing program could continue to improve by adding technology staff to support online faculty. The University as a whole hires tech support staff, not specific colleges, she said.

The rankings come after Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, announced this fall he would form a strategic plan to centralize online learning at the University.

Building strong online programs has been key to GW’s revenue-boosting strategy, as its ability to increase tuition revenue is restricted by an on-campus cap on students.

Other schools struggled to improve their online programs though.

The GW School of Business online MBA program’s ranking dropped for the second year as well, falling nearly 20 spots to No. 64. That fall adds to a number of other drops in rankings the school has seen in the last few years, including its undergraduate and global MBA programs.

The school’s former dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired in August after overspending the school’s budget by about $13 million, some of which had been invested in online degree program. The school added four online graduate degree programs in 2012.

Provost Steven Lerman has said that he expected the online programs to eventually create more revenue, but that the initial investments in the program ran high.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development saw a nine-spot drop to No. 16 this year, with high scores for student engagement and faculty credentials.

Both the business and education program’s retention rates and graduation rates fell from the 2011-2012 academic year, as its ranking fell. Associate deans for the business school and Graduate School of Education and Human Development did not immediately return a request for comment.

GW also ranked No. 56 for its online bachelor’s programs, most of which are medical programs.

Schools may have moved up and down in the rankings due to changing methodology by U.S. News, which for the first time included peer-review data based on other schools’ evaluations, and more emphasis on one-year retention rates, graduation rates and required time to graduate.

“The methodologies behind this year’s rankings changed significantly to reflect additional data and statistical processes used to do the calculations,” U.S. News reporter Devon Haynie wrote in a blog post. “These changes are the primary factors behind why schools moved up and down in the rankings.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments (1)