Funding Excellence

The Innovation Task Force is analyzing and prioritizing proposals aimed at enhancing the university’s academic enterprise and increasing the Innovation Fund.

March 08, 2010

By Jamie L. Freedman

GW is poised to significantly increase its investment in learning and research, as the innovation initiative gathers momentum.

Creative ideas aimed at strengthening the quality and efficiency of the GW experience are pouring in from across the University, with the objective of adding financial resources to the Innovation Fund for reinvestment in academics.

“We’re continuing to receive a lot of great suggestions from throughout the GW community,” says Jeffrey Lenn, associate vice president for academic affairs and chairman of the Innovation Task Force Steering Committee. “More than 200 ideas have been submitted to the ITF’s electronic suggestion box, and our business processes and learning/ teaching committees are hard at work prioritizing and analyzing the proposals for implementation beginning in the next fiscal year.”

In the coming months, ITF committee members will issue their recommendations and hold a series of town hall-style meetings to solicit community-wide input on the selected proposals.

All savings and new revenues resulting from the initiative will be placed in the Innovation Fund—which is slated to grow to $60 million over the next five years. 

The fund will come from three sources: the yield from new endowment funds focusing on academics, indirect (administrative) costs of new sponsored research funds, and savings and new revenues resulting from increased process efficiencies, better space utilization, and new and expanded academic programs. Funds will be banked for reinvestment in prioritized academic activities and programs.

“The process is well underway,” Dr. Lenn says. “We’re looking at ways to centralize our procurement system to make purchasing more cost efficient, identifying opportunities to reduce energy use, and considering moving some programs and departments onto campus from rented space off-campus to realize cost savings. All savings and new revenues toward our $60 million goal will be banked in an Innovation Fund, separate from the University’s general operating budget, to enhance our academic and research enterprise.”

The Innovation Fund will fuel a wide range of programs aimed at increasing academic and research excellence throughout GW. “The initiative will enhance the funding available for hiring outstanding new faculty members, supporting faculty research, expanding academic programs and enhancing the student academic experience,” Dr. Lenn says.

“We recently announced, for example, that ITF funds will be used to double the number of undergraduate academic advisers at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and to implement an electronic degree audit program that will enable student to monitor their progress toward graduation. All of us who have been involved in this process are excited about the prospect of seeing new opportunities realized with these resources.”

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