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Steven Lerman

The University announced Monday that it will no longer require SAT or ACT scores, a move that comes after officials accepted 45 percent of this fall's freshman class. Photo Illustration by Katie Causey | Photo Editor

The University announced Monday that it will no longer require SAT or ACT scores, a move that comes after officials accepted 45 percent of this fall’s freshman class. Photo Illustration by Katie Causey | Photo Editor

Updated: July 27, 2015 at 10:18 p.m.

Prospective students will no longer need SAT or ACT scores to apply to GW, the University announced Monday.

The announcement comes amid a troubled admissions trend after 45 percent of applicants were accepted for this fall’s freshman class, the highest rate in more than a decade. The shift also makes GW one of the largest and the highest-ranked institutions to drop the testing requirement for applicants, allowing potential students to decide whether or not to include the scores.

The “test-optional” strategy was recommended by a University task force to help low-income students find success at GW, launched by University President Steven Knapp in 2014. Access to college, especially for minority and low-income students, has been a touchstone of Knapp’s administration, as schools nationwide increasingly focus on diversity and accessibility.

Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management and a member of the task force, said no longer requiring test scores will make GW more accessible to “underrepresented” groups of students like minority students, low-income students and first-generation students.

“We hope the test-optional policy sends a message to prospective students that if you are smart, hard-working and have challenged yourself in a demanding high school curriculum, there could be a place for you here,” Koehler said in the release.

Instead of relying on test scores, test-optional schools consider the future success of an applicant using their high school record and GPA. More than 125 schools are considered test-optional, including GW’s peer American University. Other peers like New York University allow students to submit results from Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests instead of the SAT or ACT, the Washington Post reported.

When Virginia Commonwealth University went test-optional this year, just 172 applicants did not send in their scores, the Washington Post reported. The school also saw about 450 to 500 additional applications after the change. A similar spike in applications would be a major boon for GW, because it relies on tuition for the majority of its operating revenue.

Officials have already expanded the freshman class to help make up for two years of missed budget projections. The University saw graduate and professional enrollment drop by about 1,200 students. Provost Steven Lerman said in April that officials expected to add about 150 to 200 students to this fall’s freshman class to boost revenue, explaining the higher acceptance rate.

Two years ago, GW admitted publicly for the first time that it put hundreds of students on the wait list each year if they could not afford to pay full tuition. The decisions impacted about 10 percent of GW’s 22,000 applicants each year, officials said then.

Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton said in the release on Monday that the change will let “outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds” see that GW could be the right fit for them.

“Although we have long employed a holistic application review process, we had concerns that students who could be successful at GW felt discouraged from applying if their scores were not as strong as their high school performance,” Felton said in the release.

Homeschooled students or students from schools that use narrative evaluations or evaluations that do not include grades are excluded from the new policy. College athletes, and applicants looking to join a seven-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program are also not included.

Following the announcement, students and alumni took to Twitter to share their reactions.

-Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, partakes in the activities at the Earth Day Fair in Kogan Plaza. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, partakes in the activities at the Earth Day Fair in Kogan Plaza. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Clara Lishan Ong.

GW’s top officials got some fresh air during Earth Day on Wednesday to speak while students and representatives from sustainability companies mingled under a big white tent in Kogan Plaza.

The Earth Day Fair invited student organization leaders, community leaders and companies to promote their causes. Prominent administrative figures and sustainability leaders on campus each offered more information about sustainability at GW.

“GW wants to teach sustainability and also walk the talk,” said Provost Steven Lerman. “200 faculty self-identify as working on sustainability-related projects.”

Here’s what you missed while you were tending to your compost bin:

1. Prioritizing sustainability

Lerman pointed out economics professor Ram Fishman, who is involved in projects to reduce energy and waste at residence halls.

Lerman added that civil and environmental engineering professor Rumana Riffat takes her students on field trips to wastewater treatment plants to “help them make the actual connection between the theory of waste treatment and its actual practice.”

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz rounded up the University’s current projects to stay sustainable.

“We have more than 30 buildings under renovation for the Eco-Building Program. We are composting dining hall food, building community gardens and growing edibles,” Katz said. “Sustainability is really a comprehensive effort.”

Katz also mentioned the Capital Partners Solar Project, which provides solar power to GW, American University and GW Hospital. The solar farm in North Carolina will power more than 50 percent of GW’s electricity.

Kathleen Merrigan, the executive director of sustainability, went up to the podium to talk about GW’s academic sustainability programs.

“GW has one of the most politically active student bodies, so you should use your studies and maximize what you know to shake up the world,” Merrigan said.

Students engaged with organizations focused on sustainability from the D.C. area, featured in the annual Earth Day Fair in Kogan Plaza. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Students engaged with organizations focused on sustainability from the D.C. area, featured in the annual Earth Day Fair in Kogan Plaza. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

2. Green Leaf courses

Lerman wants to bring sustainability back into the classroom, too.

“Apart from student organizations, we hope that students can also get involved academically,” Lerman said.

GW has about 400 undergraduate and graduate level courses that have to do with sustainability, he said. GW offers a minor in sustainability, which started in 2012.

3. Student contest winners announced

Meghan Chapple, the director of GW’s sustainability office, announced four winners to the Eco-Equity challenge, which launched in January to encourage students to partner with local community organizations and solve environmental issues.

“Sustainability also has a social equity aspect,” Chapple said. “Often, environmental issues have a higher burden on poor people. There are a plenty of environmental justice issues in the areas of food distribution, trash and toxic pollution for instance.”

One of the four winning projects this year is Project Lily Pad, which is partnering with Living Classrooms and D.C. Public Schools to design and build wetland islands to promote environmental education and preserve the Anacostia River along Kingman Island.

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An interim dean will take the helm of the School of Nursing next month, Provost Steven Lerman announced in an email to the school Monday.

Mary Jean Schumann, the school’s interim senior associate dean for academic affairs, will lead GW’s newest school starting Jan. 1 until the University picks its next leader. Dean Jean Johnson will step down at the end of this month, about a year and a half after she announced plans to take a sabbatical and fall back into a teaching and research role.

Schumann led the creation of a new nursing program for veterans and was the executive director of the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care from 2011 to 2013.

Lerman said in an interview Monday that the dean search was nearing completion, and that the school’s search committee would report to him and University President Steven Knapp soon. The committee has kept details about the search’s timeline under wraps since it formed last year.

Johnson announced she would step down at the end of the last academic year, but agreed to remain in her role until a replacement was found. Knapp announced in October that this semester would be her last as dean.

She plans to travel to South Africa, where she will look to improve working conditions for nurses.

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Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 6:54 p.m.

Staff member of nearly 40 years dies

Judy Arkes, an academic editor for GW and longtime staff member, died Thursday. She was 73 years old.

Provost Steven Lerman said members of the University community would greatly miss Arkes, who had worked at GW for 38 years.

“She is someone who I think made the institution better,” he said at Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting. “For those of you who knew her in your time here, she will be very much missed. Our sympathies go out to her family.”

An administrator found Arkes unconscious in her Rice Hall office on Thursday at about 11:15 a.m. Arkes was having trouble breathing and was transported to GW Hospital, according to a police report.

Lerman said Arkes accomplished a variety of tasks during her time in the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment, such as convincing the University to transfer to electronic workflows and online bulletins.

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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 reporters Sam Morse and Ally Kowalski.

More than 200 students and faculty gathered Thursday in the Marvin Center to remember the fear that gripped the nation 13 years ago, with speakers focusing on themes of unity and hope as campus commemorated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Provost Steven Lerman spoke about the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Thursday in the Great Hall. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

Provost Steven Lerman spoke about the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Thursday in the Marvin Center. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

Attendees of the vigil lit nine candles for each of the GW alumni who died in the attacks, and Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders led the gathering in a prayer. Provost Steven Lerman spoke about the legacy of the attacks and the lasting impact the events had on the University and the country.

The lacrosse stick of an alumnus who had graduated from GW that year and died in the attacks is now on display in a memorial at the 9/11 museum in New York City, which opened last spring.

Michael Massaroli, Jr., whose father worked on the 101st floor of the first tower and died that day, spoke about the time that has passed since he lost his 38-year-old father.

“It is up to those of us who remember to keep alive the memory of those who were lost,” Massaroli said.

He said the last 13 years have been “a blip historically, yet quite a long time for those who have lived it.”

Marking 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a lone US flag stands along side a row of red, white, and blue lights placed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  Samuel Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Marking the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a U.S. flag stands alongside a row of red, white and blue lights placed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Vice President Joe Biden visited campus Thursday to help Points of Light volunteers prepare care packages for veterans, active military, first responders and wounded warriors.

A small group of administrators, faculty and students met at Veterans Memorial Park in Kogan Plaza for a wreath-laying ceremony Thursday morning. University President Steven Knapp spoke at the ceremony that honored those who died before joining attendees in a minute-long moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., marking when the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

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The Corcoran will transfer $43 million to GW to cover building renovations and program costs. Hatchet file photo.

The Corcoran will transfer $43 million to GW to cover building renovations and program costs. Hatchet File Photo.

GW is set to receive $43 million in funds from the Corcoran College of Art + Design to cover building renovations and programming costs, the University announced Wednesday.

About $35 million of that pool will cover renovations to the Corcoran’s aging 17th Street building, while the remaining $8 million will fund the Corcoran School of Art + Design’s operations. The fine arts school officially moved under the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences last month.

The first phase of renovations, which will repair the building’s heating, cooling and mechanical systems is expected to cost $25 million – nearly a third of the total GW plans to spend renovating the building.

GW plans to sell the Fillmore building, the Corcoran’s Georgetown property, at the end of this academic year. Profits from that sale will also go toward the $80 million renovations and the school’s operational costs.

Provost Steven Lerman said in a press release that GW has begun fundraising to support Corcoran renovations and continued programming.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the university to not only preserve the historic legacy of the Corcoran but also enhance and build upon the innovative arts education we provide in the heart of our nation’s capital,” Lerman said in the release.

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GW plans to spend more than $25 million renovating the Corcoran's aging building on 17th Street. File Photo

GW plans to spend more than $25 million renovating the Corcoran’s aging building on 17th Street. Hatchet File Photo

As an advocacy group tries to block GW’s acquisition of the Corcoran, the University’s top academic leader is arguing that a delay in the merger would threaten enrollment and complicate efforts to provide financial aid.

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.”

Provost Steven Lerman filed a letter with D.C. Superior Court Monday. Hatchet File Photo

Provost Steven Lerman filed a letter with D.C. Superior Court on Monday. Hatchet File Photo

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.

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President Barack Obama addresses college presidents at a summit this spring. Hatchet File Photo

President Barack Obama addresses college leaders at a summit this spring. Hatchet File Photo

A federal college rating system could dictate financial aid allocations based on how well institutions improve affordability and how accessible they are to lower-income applicants – areas GW has pinpointed as priorities this year.

The White House’s idea would link indicators such as a college’s graduation rate over time or number of first generation college students to whether it can receive funding from Pell Grants or other federal loans, several experts said. The idea, introduced last August, has gained steam this summer as the Department of Education pushes for ways to enact the proposal.

The department is expected to release a template of the system by the end of the year, said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University who studies college rankings and financial aid.

If the government launches a ranking system, colleges that do not reach certain standards on indicators like graduation rates, cost of attendance or percentage of students receiving Pell Grants would lose their eligibility to receive federal funding for financial aid.

But without more details about what the system will look like, it’s hard to tell what sort of effect it would have on universities, Kelchen said.

“There are concerns about whether this is letting the camel’s nose under the tent too much,” Kelchen said. “It could open them up to more regulations in the future.”

If institutions are already focused on improving those metrics, though, the effect could be smaller, he said, adding that a federal system might not replace the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings, considered the gold standard of college rankings.

GW launched two task forces this year that were charged with tackling the issues in higher education that President Barack Obama has highlighted.

University President Steven Knapp created an access and success task force in January, after attending a summit at the White House focused on college affordability. Provost Steven Lerman also launched the University’s largest study into its graduation rate this winter. GW’s rate has hovered around 80 percent for the last five years.

Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, said more selective institutions, like GW, would not be strongly impacted by a federal ranking system because fewer students receive Pell Grants. About 14 percent of GW students received the grants this year.

Kelly said less selective institutions are much more likely to be concerned, since their students are typically from the area of their college and receive Pell Grants, and those students are less likely to use ranking materials.

“The majority of students attend colleges that are close to home, so the idea that all of a sudden students are going to shop around doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” he said.

Obama has faced fierce opposition to his administration’s idea. Some university presidents have opposed a national college ranking system, likely because they fear losing control over their institutions’ goals and priorities, Kelcher said. A bipartisan group of congressmen and a group of Republicans in the Senate have also attempted to block such a system.

Paul Hassen, director of communications and marketing at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said many groups have also opposed the system because there are too many questions the government has failed to address.

The government already scores colleges on a scorecard, which is available online, and Hassen said many wonder if an additional system is necessary.

“Do we need another system on top of this?” Hassen asked. “And who’s going to pay for this, who picks up the extra cost of supplying this information to the federal government?”

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Linda Livingstone will serve as dean of the GW School of Business starting in August. Photo courtesy of GW media relations.

Linda Livingstone will serve as dean of the GW School of Business starting in August. Photo courtesy of GW media relations.

Updated: May 27, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.

A dean who has steered Pepperdine University’s business school for a decade will take control of the business school at GW, the University announced Tuesday.

Linda Livingstone, dean of the Graziadio School of Business, will lead GW’s school about a year after her predecessor was suddenly fired for mismanaging a multi-million dollar budget. The long-serving dean has launched four new degrees and a series of online degree programs during her tenure.

A professor who attended Livingstone’s presentation to business school faculty in the spring said her vision for the school includes more collaboration with GW’s other colleges, enhancing its global positioning and focusing on public policy and entrepreneurship.

“Working with the faculty and staff to build on a strong foundation of programs and research to continue to enhance the quality and reputation of the school will be a privilege,” Livingstone said in a release.

Livingstone has overseen a quick rise in rankings, with the Pepperdine school now boasting a No. 76 MBA program. She is also known for championing women in business and will be the GW school’s first female dean since Susan Phillips stepped down in 2010 after 12 years in the school’s top post.

Provost Steven Lerman said in an interview Tuesday that Livingstone’s experience in creating new programs and courting donors set her apart from other candidates.

“When you have that opportunity with someone with such a great track record, and you have a school making the transition with an interim dean, it’s hopeful that a sitting dean – all else equal – can hit the ground running faster,” Lerman said.

When she arrives in Foggy Bottom, Livingstone will enter a dean orientation program that was piloted this year after Ben Vinson took over the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Livingstone expanded Pepperdine’s business programs across six campuses, an accomplishment that Lerman said she could use as a model at a school that is looking to increase online offerings.

Lerman has pointed to online programs as a way to bring enrollment across GW’s colleges back to historic levels. As the University expects about 2 percent fewer graduate students to enroll this year, he said the programs could attract more working professionals hoping to earn another degree.

Livingstone will lead seven departments that have spent a year waiting for a new leader. Former dean Doug Guthrie was fired last August after top leaders discovered that the school had overspent its budget by $13 million.

Guthrie had invested more than University leaders anticipated in online and executive education programs, which he said could have eventually increased revenues but required larger start-up costs. The plan put him at odds with top administrators, who said they fired him because they and Guthrie failed to compromise over the future of the school.

Guthrie was also the subject of several investigations in the University’s legal office. Scheherazade Rehman, last year’s Faculty Senate executive committee chair, claimed Guthrie had inappropriate sexual relationships with senior officials and was skimming money off the top of GW’s funds to start a campus in China.

One of Livingstone’s first tasks will be to solve the school’s budget woes, and she will meet faculty who are planning to ask for more control over department budgets, several professors on the search committee said.

University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman picked her from a short list this month after a 16-person search committee narrowed down the pool in April.

James Bailey, a professor of management and member of the school’s dean search committee, said Livingstone’s experience and commanding, yet calming, persona helped her win over many of the school’s faculty. He said she was the “right person for this moment in time for the school.”

“The last three years have been pretty tumultuous. It’s fightened a lot of people. It’s just taken a toll here,” Bailey said. “Somebody that’s had experience in leadership, that’s moved the place forward but hasn’t created as much stress, is why the sitting dean was especially important.”

When she visited campus in April, Livingstone pitched the idea of finding new niches for online programs, like courses that focus on small business, Bailey said. She also claimed she would be inclusive in decision-making. When Guthrie led the school, professors had complained that the former dean kept them out of major planning.

She beat out three other candidates, including a former Fortune 100 chief executive officer, the dean of the University of Albany – SUNY’s School of Business and a senior associate dean from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. She was the sole female dean candidate to visit campus.

This summer, Livingstone will also become the leader of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, GW’s accrediting organization.

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