Faculty Senate Hears Reports on Higher Ed Outlook, GW Budget

The group also passed resolutions recommending changes to policy on prohibited relationships with students, Faculty Code.

Dennis Gephardt, vice president at Moody’s Investors Service
Dennis Gephardt, vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, presented on financial outlooks for GW, higher education broadly at Faculty Senate on Friday. (William Atkins/GW Today)
December 10, 2018

Although the financial outlook for higher education broadly is “negative,” the George Washington University’s is a category better at “stable,” an official with Moody’s Investors Service told the Faculty Senate on Friday.

Higher education’s negative outlook is driven by factors including weak net tuition revenue growth and rising labor costs, said Dennis Gephardt, vice president at Moody’s Investors Service.

However, GW’s A1 rating from Moody’s remains stable, with strengths including sustained revenue growth prospects, favorable total wealth and improved operating performance. Challenges include debt, reliance on tuition revenue and financial resources tied to commercial real estate holdings, according to Moody’s.

GW has “a very strong rating,” Mr. Gephardt said.

Also Friday, Professor Joe Cordes, chair of the Faculty Senate’s Fiscal Planning and Budgeting Committee, presented the annual fiscal planning and university budget report.

“The net worth of the university has basically held steady, grown very slightly,” Dr. Cordes said.

Dr. Cordes reviewed overall finances in previous fiscal years, trends in operating performance, borrowing and debt—including a recent bond issue—and future issues and challenges.

Issues that may impact university finances include the need to balance strategic investments with building reserves and contingency funds, student enrollment rates and tuition revenue, health and fringe benefit spending and revenue from redevelopment agreements, including the 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue and Rice Hall project.

In other business, the senate on Friday passed a resolution recommending minor changes to the university’s Policy on Prohibited Relationships with Students, which GW previously adopted.

The senate also passed a resolution recommending that the Board of Trustees make several specific minor amendments to the Faculty Code. Professor Jeff Gutman, chair of the senate’s Committee on Professional Ethics and Academic Freedom, introduced the resolution. The committee is still working on a set of additional changes. The Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Affairs will be reviewing at its February meeting proposed changes to the code that the senate or others may make.

During his remarks, President Thomas LeBlanc provided updates on the progress of the university’s strategic initiatives, including work on plans for renovating Thurston Hall; fundraising efforts slated to meet expected targets; discussions between the university and Medical Faculty Associates on its relationship; and an upcoming update on findings from the institutional culture assessment.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said during his remarks that progress continues on the review of the university’s research ecosystem as part of the research strategic initiative. Working groups have identified both things that are going well and areas for improvement. Findings will eventually be submitted to university leadership for further action.

“I’m very pleased with how that is going,” Dr. Maltzman said.

University News


President LeBlanc Announces Details of Culture Assessment

October 01, 2018

Survey of faculty and staff to launch in mid-October.

Research Ecosystem Review Launches

September 14, 2018

A goal of the university’s research strategic initiative, working groups will review and make recommendations to strengthen GW’s research efforts.

GW to Implement New Comprehensive Title IX Policy

May 18, 2018
The Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence Policy and related policy on prohibited relationships were approved by the GW Board of Trustees.